This lesson introduces the idea that a tract of forestland may actually consist of many sub-forests, each needing individual treatment.
Because many forests have a variety of timber types, age classes, and soil types, it is practical to subdivide the forest into smaller units according to their management needs. These units are commonly called stands; a stand is usually identified by the species composition and general tree size, e.g., pine saplings, hardwood pulpwood, etc. In the case of hardwood stands, the type of site (bottomland, upland, swamp, cove, etc.) may preface the stand designation to further define it.
Distribute copies of the graphic "can you STAND it?" and ask the students to complete the exercise.
When they are finished, discuss the results. What could explain the large body of young trees across the center of the map? (Area may have been clearcut and regenerated naturally; perhaps a wildfire burned the area.)
What conclusions might you draw about the block of young pines in the upper left corner? (Trees are regularly spaced and growing in rows, suggesting that they are planted. The fact that the block has straight-line edges supports the idea that humans have manipulated the area.)
Ask the students to look closely at the makeup of the pine stand in the lower right of the picture. Lead them to note that there are a few scattered large pines with groups of younger trees around them. (Perhaps someone cut most of the timber, leaving a few large seed trees to regenerate the area.)
What might happen if all the trees along the river were cut? (Erosion could occur, allowing sediment to go into the river; removing shade could raise water temperature to the point where aquatic life would be affected.)
Forest managers use aerial photographs, topographic maps, and field examination to develop forest type maps similar to the one in the student exercise. These maps provide a quick visual reference to the forest and often include codes or notations which describe stand conditions, management needs, etc. Development of type maps is one of the first steps in overall forest management planning.
In a real situation, stands would be delineated using a combination of scientific and practical criteria. Small stands may be incorporated into larger ones of a different type for convenience of management, or large homogenous stands may be divided to better distribute workloads, costs, and incomes. Such artificial division or combination may also be done to provide environmental or wildlife habitat benefits.