In order to maintain forest health, improve timber values and achieve other objectives for the County Forests, approximately 500 to 600 hectares are thinned annually. Each forest compartment identified in the operating plan is assessed by Forestry staff and if desirable a prescription is prepared identifying which trees should be removed.
Qualified tree markers identify trees to be removed with paint as per the prescription and each tree is assessed and tallied. Generally only some of the trees in a forest are removed, usually those of poor quality or which are hampering the growth of better trees. This is done in order to improve growth of the remaining trees and allow more light to reach the ground to stimulate forest regeneration.
Coniferous plantations are ready for the first thinning between the ages of 30 to 40 years; and are subsequently thinned approximately every 10 years. Through natural succession, most coniferous plantations will convert to hardwood forests over time.
Hardwood stands containing merchantable products are usually thinned and selectively harvested at 15 to 20 year intervals.
The timber identified for removal is sold to the highest bidder, resulting in revenues which are reinvested in forestry operations and the acquisition of additional forest lands. Further, much of the timber is processed locally which contributes to the local economy.