Key References in Silviculture


Scots pine being managed under a shelterwood system, Loch Vaa, Scotland. Photo: E. R. Wilson.


This page includes a list of key textbooks relating to the science and practice of silviculture. 

The practice of silviculture: applied forest ecology, 10th edition

Mark S. Ashton and Matthew J. Kelty

John Wiley and Sons, New York | ISBN: 978-1-119-27095-9 | March 2018 | 784 Pages

Website: Wiley

Publisher’s Description: The tenth edition of the classic work, The Practice of silviculture: applied forest ecology, includes the most current information and the results of research on the many issues that are relevant to forests and forestry. The text covers such timely topics as biofuels and intensive timber production, ecosystem and landscape scale management of public lands, ecosystem services, surface drinking water supplies, urban and community greenspace, forest carbon, fire and climate, and much more.

In recent years, silvicultural systems have become more sophisticated and complex in application, particularly with a focus on multi-aged silviculture. There have been paradigm shifts toward managing for more complex structures and age-classes for integrated and complementary values including wildlife, water and open space recreation. Extensively revised and updated, this new edition covers a wide range of topics and challenges relevant to the forester or resource professional today. This full-color text offers the most expansive book on silviculture and: 

  • Includes a revised and expanded text with clear language and explanations
  • Covers the many cutting-edge resource issues that are relevant to forests and forestry
  • Contains boxes within each chapter to provide greater detail on particular silvicultural treatments and examples of their use
  • Features a completely updated bibliography plus new photographs, tables and figures.

The Practice of silviculture: applied forest ecology, 10th edition is an invaluable resource for students and professionals in forestry and natural resource management.

Review in Irish Forestry

Forestry Practice, 11th Edition

B. G. Hibberd (Editor)

Forestry Commission Handbook 6 (11th Edition) | HMSO, London | ISBN: 0-11-710281-4 | 1991 | 239 Pages

Website: Forestry Research Publications OPEN ACCESS

Publisher’s Description: Forestry practice has become the standard textbook for forestry students and forest and woodland growers, owners, managers and planners in Great Britain. It was first published in 1933 and this is now the 11th edition. Much of the basic information provided in the previous edition only five years ago remains unchanged in this publication. However, there have been considerable changes and advances in forestry practice since 1986 and this edition encompasses these. In particular, the task of planning for second rotation plantations is becoming a major issue in British forestry and a new chapter is devoted to this subject, drawing on extensive experience in one of Britain’s major upland forests.

Forestry practice is often referred to as Bulletin 14 which has been the Forestry Commission’s series number for the title since 1933. A new family of technical publications has recently been introduced which places the ‘Bulletin’ series in a special category for supplying technical information to forest managers. The wider audience is now addressed by means of the popular ‘Handbook’ series which has a livelier form of presentation and which is freely illustrated.

Forestry practice now takes its place in the new Handbook series where it will stand alongside similar publications such as Urban forestry practice and Farm woodland practice. While every effort has been made to ensure that Forestry practice will meet fully the high standards of presentation expected of a Forestry Commission Handbook, sight has not been lost of the need to keep the cover price within the reach of students.

Keywords: Forestry, Great Britain, Management, Planning, Design, Operations. 

Note: Although Forestry Practice is now over 30 years old, this remains an important technical publication that contains information and terminology especially relevant to forestry practice in the UK and in Ireland. It is available on the second-hand book market or as a download from the link above. 


The silviculture of trees used in British forestry, 3rd edition

Peter S. Savill

CABI | ISBN: 9781786393920 | April 2019 | 384 Pages 

Website: CABI

The Silviculture of Trees Used in British Forestry

Publisher’s Description: British woodlands and forests are often located on sites and in regions that are marginal for agriculture; many are at high elevations and exposed, with short growing seasons. Wherever forests are located, site and climatic conditions must dictate species choice in forest management. This book provides a detailed guide to the biological suitability of different sites and soils for all important native trees and the most extensively used exotics. Apart from physical difficulties such as steepness and stoniness, forest soils also frequently have problems associated with them. They can be waterlogged or drought-prone, suffer from extremes of acidity or alkalinity, or have compacted layers.

The book provides information on species’ suitability for different purposes. It includes details of species’ origin and introduction (where applicable), as well as their climatic and soil requirements and other silvicultural characteristics. Information about provenance, yield and timber is also provided. Fully updated throughout, this 3rd edition puts more emphasis on species suitable for changing climatic conditions, with accounts of several species that may become more prominent in British forests: including several silver firs, hickories, eucalypts, spruces, poplars and wingnuts. The book concludes with simple keys for identifying the trees most likely to be encountered in British forests. It is an essential resource for students, researchers and forestry professionals.

Review in Quarterly Journal of Forestry

Multiaged silviculture: managing for complex forest stand structures

Kevin O’Hara

Oxford University Press, Oxford, England | ISBN: 9780198703068 | October 2014 | 213 pages

Website: OUP

 Publisher’s Description: Multiaged silviculture is an emerging global strategy for managing many forest lands around the world. It includes the broad area of silviculture of stands with two or more age classes. Over recent decades, many forest managers have emphasized plantation silviculture, which meets the wood production needs on large forest tracts. However, much of the global forest will be managed less intensively to maintain natural forest stand structures and processes. Developing multiaged stand management strategies, or silvicultural systems, for these complex forests represents a global challenge to integrate available science with sound management. This book presents the latest scientific and management information on multiaged silviculture. It advocates a range of strategies that include the more traditional complex stand structures as well as simpler variations such as two-aged stands. Regeneration and stand tending are presented as operations suitable for multiaged stands, even when they involve tree planting, thinning, or fertilization. The effects of multiaged silviculture on stand production are presented, as are implications for genetic diversity and stand health. Multiaged silviculture is also an emerging adaptive management strategy for a changing global climate and changing disturbance regimes. Because multiaged stands have multiple age classes, they have greater resistance to disturbance, and greater resilience to respond after disturbances occur. Global changes in natural resource policy are the driving force behind many changes in forest management, including the expanding use of multiaged systems. At a grassroots level, aesthetics and perceptions of naturalness are driving much of the interest in more multiaged stands.

Keywords: forest management, silviculture, stand management, stand structure, silvicultural systems, multiaged.

Review in International Forestry Review

A critique of silviculture: managing for complexity

Klaus J. Puettmann, K. David Coates and Christian C. Messier

Island Press | ISBN: 9781597261463 | November 2008 | 208 pages

Website: Island Press

Publisher’s Description: The discipline of silviculture is at a crossroads. Silviculturists are under increasing pressure to develop practices that sustain the full function and dynamics of forested ecosystems and maintain ecosystem diversity and resilience while still providing needed wood products. A Critique of silviculture offers a penetrating look at the current state of the field and provides suggestions for its future development.

The book includes an overview of the historical developments of silvicultural techniques and describes how these developments are best understood in their contemporary philosophical, social, and ecological contexts. It also explains how the traditional strengths of silviculture are becoming limitations as society demands a varied set of benefits from forests and as we learn more about the importance of diversity on ecosystem functions and processes.

The authors go on to explain how other fields, specifically ecology and complexity science, have developed in attempts to understand the diversity of nature and the variability and heterogeneity of ecosystems. The authors suggest that ideas and approaches from these fields could offer a road map to a new philosophical and practical approach that endorses managing forests as complex adaptive systems.

A Critique of silviculture bridges a gap between silviculture and ecology that has long hindered the adoption of new ideas. It breaks the mold of disciplinary thinking by directly linking new ideas and findings in ecology and complexity science to the field of silviculture. This is a critically important book that is essential reading for anyone involved with forest ecology, forestry, silviculture, or the management of forested ecosystems.

Review in Forestry Chronicle

Silvicultural systems

John D. Matthews

Oxford University Press, Oxford, England | ISBN: 9780198546702 | August 1991 | 296 pages

Website: OUP


Publisher’s Description: There is a rapid rate of forest clearance in many tropical countries. This problem is becoming more serious as the rising world population increases demand for fuelwood and timber. The reduced area of forest must be treated so as to produce the highest possible sustained yield of suitable timber compatible with protecting the environment and water supplies, conserving wild life, enhancing attractive scenery, and giving opportunities for recreation.

In Europe complete regimes for regenerating, tending, and harvesting forests called “silvicultural systems” have provided effective solutions to these problems. These are being used successfully in temperate, sub-tropical, and tropical forestry, often under conditions very different from those in which they originated. This book describes the theoretical basis and practical application of 20 silvicultural systems so that foresters and other land managers, ecologists, and landscape designers can select and use those best suited to their needs.

Silvicultural systems can trace its heritage to the book of the same title by R. S. Troup, first published in 1928. Since that time many of the classical silvicultural systems have been subjected to review and re-appraisal, ensuring that this textbook remains relevant to forest and natural resources managers, forest conservationists and silviculturists today. 

Plantation silviculture in Europe

Peter Savill, Julian Evans, Daniel Auclair and Jan Falck

Oxford University Press, Oxford, England | ISBN: 9780198549086 | September 1997 | 308 pages

Website: OUP

Cover for Plantation Silviculture in Europe

Publisher’s Description: As pressures to preserve natural forest resources have increased, plantation forestry and its study have gained in importance. Plantation Silviculture in Europe is an up-to-date, timely, and comprehensive exploration of the principles that underlie the planting and maintaining of forest resources. Based on the excellent reception of Savill and Evans’ Plantation Silviculture in Temperate Regions (OUP, 1986), which was largely UK-based, the inclusion of two European authors ensures that the scope of this new book extends across the entire continent. Plantation Silviculture in Europe provides a thorough overview of the central aspects of conventional plantation forestry, covering site preparation, choice of species, establishment and maintenance, nutrition, spacing, thinning and pruning, and protection. In addition, it acknowledges the changing emphasis and increasing diversity of contemporary forestry, and includes chapters on community woodlands, urban forests, plantings for amenity and sport, and energy crops. Throughout, an attempt is made to set practices in the context of the ecological and biological forest processes which underpin them. Plantation Silviculture also incorporates discussion of the many environmental, social and policy issues that surround forestry today. Concise and clearly written, this will be essential reading for graduate and undergraduate forestry students and forestry professionals alike. Likely to become the standard text throughout Europe, it also contains much material of relevance to foresters in North America, East Asia, and Australasia. 

Forest Stand Dynamics

Chadwick D. Oliver and Bruce C. Larson

John Wiley and Sons, New York* | ISBN: 978-0-471-13833-4 | 1996, update edition | 520 pages

Website: Yale EliScholar OPEN ACCESS

Cover for Forests as complex social and ecological systems

Publisher’s Description: This book describes the various growth patterns of forests from a mechanistic point of view. Its purpose is to help silviculturists, forest managers, and ecologists understand and anticipate how forests grow and respond to intentional manipulations and natural disturbances. Demands on the forest have been increasing for timber production, wildlife habitat, water protection, recreation, and protection from fires, insects, and diseases. These demands have created an emphasis on prescribing site-specific treatments for individual stands of trees, rather than treating broad areas uniformly.

Keywords: forestry, stand dynamics, forest, forests, trees, measurement.

*Copyright now held by C. D. Oliver and B. C. Larson. This book is available as an open access download from the Yale University online repository. See link above. 

Forests as complex social and ecological systems

A Festschrift for Chadwick D. Oliver

Patrick J. Baker, David R. Larsen, Alark Saxena (Editors)
Springer, Cham, Switzerland | ISBN (Hardcover): 978-3-030-88554-0 | ISBN (eBook): 978-3-030-88555-7 | 2022 | 334 pages

Website: Springer Cham

Cover for Forests as complex social and ecological systems

Publisher’s Description: Professor Chadwick Dearing Oliver has made major intellectual contributions to forest science and natural resources management. Over the course of his career he has actively sought to bring research and practice together through synthesis, outreach, and capacity-building. A common thread throughout his career has been complexity and how we as a society understand and manage complex systems. His work on forest stand dynamics, landscape management, and sustainability have all focused on the emergent properties of complex ecological and/or social systems. This volume celebrates a remarkable career through a diverse group of former students and colleagues who work on a wide range of subject areas related to the management of complex natural resource systems.

Over the past decade there has been considerable discussion about forests as complex adaptive systems. Advances in remote sensing, social methods, and data collection and processing have enabled more detailed characterisations of complex natural systems across spatial and temporal scales than ever before. Making sense of these data, however, requires conceptual frameworks that are robust to the complexity of the systems and their inherent dynamics, particularly in the context of global change.

This volume presents a collection of cutting-edge research on natural ecosystems and their dynamics through the lens of complex adaptive systems. Each chapter offers new insights into how these systems can be made more resilient to ensure that they provide a diversity of ecological and social values well into the future. Together they provide a robust way of thinking about the many challenges that natural ecosystems face and how we as society may best address them.

Review in Scottish Forestry