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Historical perspective on diameter-limit cutting in Northeastern forests

Abstract
The use of diameter-limit cutting and high-grading is currently a concern for long-term sustainability of forests in the Northeastern United States and surrounding areas. This paper reviews historical information about the kinds of harvesting used in this region from 1620 to 1950, to provide a context for current discussions. Throughout this period, most timber harvests removed all trees that were in demand and that could be transported. Thus, nearly all harvests consisted of some type of diameterlimit cut, but the minimum diameter and the desired species varied so much that the harvests ranged from light partial cuts to nearly complete clearcuts. A period of widespread clearcutting from 1850 to 1920 to support the industrialization of the region created opposition to this practice, which resulted in attempts to shift most harvesting to some form of partial cutting. Thus, selection cutting (which often in practice was simply diameter-limit cutting or high-grading) became the method promoted by forest managers and silvicultural researchers for most forests in the early twentieth century.
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2006-01-01
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