Canadian Forest Service Publications

Initial effects of intensity and severity of balsam fir tip harvesting on harvesting intensity at the stand level, tip production, and tip/foliage removal at the tree level, and harvesters' production and productivity. 2014. Gasser, D.; Swift, D.E. Journal of Sustainable Forestry 33:99-126.

Year: 2014

Issued by: Atlantic Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 35524

Language: English

Availability: PDF (request by e-mail)

Available from the Journal's Web site.
DOI: 10.1080/10549811.2013.833805

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Mark record


Balsam fir (Abies balsamea [L.] Mill.), which is widely used for floral greenery, is an important source of nontimber forest products (NTFP) from the northern forests of North America. Nonetheless, additional information is needed to refine and revise commercial tip-harvesting management guidelines to promote sustainable forest management. Therefore, a study was initiated to: (a) examine the socioeconomic impacts of and anticipate the potential biological responses to four contrasting harvesting practices; (b) discuss the implications of the results for the relevance and applicability of some specifications of management guidelines; and (c) assess the compatibility of tip harvesting while pursuing an objective of timber production.

Plain Language Summary

The removal of balsam fir branches (tipping) for the manufacture of Christmas wreaths and other holiday greenery products is a major nontimber industry in eastern North America. Our study in the Gaspé Bay Peninsula, Quebec revealed that the four harvesting practices examined defined a gradient of harvesting intensity at the stand level, tip production at the tree level, harvesters’ productivity, and branch removal at the tree level. The harvesting treatments consisted of various combinations of severity and intensity based on length of branch harvested to form the following: a) less severe–less intense, b) less severe–more intense, c) more severe–less intense, and d) more severe–more intense. Depending on the objective of a tipper (one who removes tips) or a landowner, choices can be made regarding the duration of harvesting balsam fir branches and the amount of revenue obtained. Results from this study will also assist in the revision of harvesting guidelines for the removal of balsam fir branches where required to promote sustainable management of the resource and associated nontimber industry.