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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Sea Buckthorn Utilized for Forest Rehabilitation

The introduction, promotion and development of seabuckthorn in forest rehabilitation after clear-cut seems meaningful and will not only help in vegetative rehabilitation, but also in ecological sustenance and economic gains to local human and wildlife populations.  Seabuckthorn plantings in severely cut, hilly, and/or mountainous, erosion-prone areas could yield multiple benefits.  The plant is sturdy, cold hardy to -40 degrees Fahrenheit, aids in water retention, provides edible berries and browse, wildlife habitat, and fixes nitrogen in the soil. 
Currently mechanical or chemical thinning of less desirable hardwood species is expensive and detrimental to the environment.  A seabuckthorn planting, post harvest could shade inhibit the pioneering hardwoods such as Birch, Poplar, Maple, and Beech favoring the more shade tolerant softwood species or late successional species.   These shade tolerant species (ex: Fir, Spruce) readily establish with less demanding seedbed requirements than many other native species and will establish under a dense canopy of hardwoods and conifers. These late successional species assume dominance (and marketability) usually after the pioneering trees begin to die off. 
Interrupting the natural cycle with seabuckthorn could replace the pioneering species, retain and improve the soil chemistry, favor the late successional trees, and due to their 6-15 foot height, be over topped and the dominant species exposed to the sun years sooner than the natural death of pioneer trees would allow.  Seabuckthorn, once overtopped cannot tolerate shade and will expire.  There are also significant benefits to the interim berry harvests and wildlife habitat improvement.
Studies are needed and should any person, government, or corporation be interested in pursuing this experiment, I would like to hear from you.

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