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U.S. Forest Service
Caring for the land and serving people

United States Department of Agriculture

Forest Service Silviculture

Men and women wearing hard hats and field gear standing in a stand that was thinned. Reviewing a thinning.

Silviculture is the art and science of controlling the establishment, growth, composition, health, and quality of forests and woodlands to meet the diverse needs and values of landowners and society such as wildlife habitat, timber, water resources, restoration, and recreation on a sustainable basis. This is accomplished by applying different types of silvicultural treatments such as thinning, harvesting, planting, pruning, prescribed burning and site preparation. Intermediate treatments (thinning) are designed to enhance growth, quality, vigor, and composition of the stand after establishment or regeneration and prior to final harvest. Regeneration treatments (harvesting) are applied to mature stands in order to establish a new age class of trees. Regeneration methods are grouped into four categories: coppice, even-aged, two-aged, and uneven-aged.

All vegetation activities, including prescribed fire, wildlife habitat improvement, timber harvesting and cutting trees in campgrounds for human safety must have a silvicultural prescription. A silvicultural prescription is a document which has a planned series of treatments designed to change current stand structure and composition of a stand to one that meets management goals. The prescription normally considers ecological, economic, and societal objectives and constraints. In the Forest Service, silvicultural prescriptions are prepared or reviewed by a certified silviculturist prior to implementing the project or treatment.


National Silviculture Workshop

The National Silviculture Workshop (NSW) is a biannual meeting begun in 1989 as a forum for sharing silvicultural advances among field foresters in the National Forest System, research scientists in Research and Development, and in recent years, research scientists from universities, as well other federal and state agencies. Read more about the national silviculture workshop…

National Advanced Silviculture Program

The National Advanced Silviculture Program (NASP) consists of four national core courses taught over a 9-week period providing graduate-level instruction in silviculture and forest ecology to Forest Service employees seeking to be certified as silviculturists. NASP is open to employees from other Federal Agencies as well as those from State Agencies. Read more about NASP…