Management Guides Target Red Oak and White Pine Regeneration in New England

Research Issue

Medium low-density (60 square feet per acre) thinning with a vigorous mix of understory pine, red and white oak, and other hardwoods, 4 years post-treatment, Massabesic Experimental Forest, Lyman, ME.

Northern red oak (Quercus rubra) and eastern white pine (Pinus strobus) are among the most highly valued tree species in New England, both for timber production and amenities for wildlife. Past landscape disturbances that allowed these species to flourish, such as wildfires or abandoned farm fields, have diminished, leading to a subsequent decline in both species’ ability to regenerate.

Our Research

The historical events that resulted in the abundance of red oak and white pine can no longer be replicated because of how developed the northeastern United States has become and the patchwork of mixed land ownership. However, a collaboration of researchers from the Northern Research Station, other Federal and State agencies, and academic institutions has produced two management guides (one for each tree species) containing silvicultural methods that can mimic those disturbances and replicate their results.

The guides synthesize research specific to the New England region, as well as applicable science from neighboring areas. It also features new research demonstrating how thinning forests to lower densities (“low-density thinning”), particularly within white pine forests, can improve regeneration success.

Expected Outcomes

“Ecology and Management of Northern Red Oak in New England” was published in 2017, while “White Pine Silviculture for Timber and Wildlife Habitat in New England” followed in 2020.

Management strategies contained within the publications include timing regeneration efforts with good seed crops, maintaining nearby high-producing seed trees, and minimizing wildlife impacts, such as disturbing surface soils to better bury pine seeds and acorns.

Researchers have provided demonstration tours, workshops, and virtual trainings through the Northeast Silviculture Institute to further promote their findings.

Research Results

Leak, William B.; Yamasaki, Mariko; Bennett, Karen P.; Desmarais, Ken; Pohl, Peter; Costello, Christine; Munck, Isabel. 2020. White Pine Silviculture for Timber and Wildlife Habitat in New England. University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension, Durham, NH. 34 p.

Leak, William B.; Yamasaki, Mariko; Ward, Jeff S.; Desmarais, Ken; Bennett, Karen P. 2017. Ecology and Management of Northern Red Oak in New England. University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension, Durham, NH. 54 p.

Leak, William B.; Yamasaki, Mariko. 2013. Effects of low-density thinning in a declining white pine stand in Maine. Res. Note NRS-170. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Research Station. 6 p. https://doi.org/10.2737/NRS-RN-170.

Research Participants

Principal Investigator

  • William Leak, USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station, Research Forester
  • Mariko Yamasaki, USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station, Research Wildlife Biologist

Research Partners

  • Last modified: December 9, 2020