What are the methods of harvesting forests

Rotation time: how long does a tree need to be cut?

If you want your grandchildren to curse, plant a book, book, book!“Behind this proverb stands the simple realization that a beech tree planted today will only reach the so-called cutting maturity generations later. The forester speaks of the Rotation time, the average time from the establishment of a forest to its harvest.

Table: the age of rotation of the most important tree species

For forest laypeople it is easy to understand, but not immediately clear that a tree goes through certain stages in the course of its life. In particular, hardly anyone is aware of the relationship between maturity and the natural maximum age. Therefore Wald-Prinz.de has put together a table with the most important tree species.

Tree speciesRotational age
(in years)
Natural maximum age
(in years)
End tree height
(in meters)
Douglas fir
(Coastal douglas fir)
(Red spruce)
(Forest pine)
80-140 200-30036
(Silver fir)
(European larch)
(Black poplar)
(Sand birch)
(Black alder)
(Common hornbeam)
(Norway maple)
(Common ash)
(Sycamore maple)
Linden tree
(Summer lime tree)
Linden tree
(Winter linden)
(Mountain elm)
(European beech)
(English oak)

Find the right time to harvest

The determination of the optimal time of logging is not only of great importance for a forest owner from an economic point of view. Because now it is no longer a matter of removing the weaker trees in the course of periodic thinning measures to maintain the stand. Now it has to be decided when the best and most beautiful trees that have been tended and nurtured for decades are ready to be felled. It is about the "fruits of the labor" and, last but not least, the maximum possible income from the sale of the wood.

Keep an eye on impending depreciation: Not every tree gets better the older it is. Stem rot, discoloration in the wood such as the red heart of the beech, tends to increase with age. From an economic point of view, the point in time will be reached when the wood growth can no longer compensate for the qualitative devaluation of the trunk. Then the tree should be felled. Even if the wood growth slows down due to the age, nothing speaks against felling.

Determinants of age of rotation

Tree species: How fast a tree grows naturally depends primarily on the tree species. Two generations of Douglas fir grow in the same time as a beech tree is ready to be cut.

Location: A vigorous tree species is of no use if the location is unsuitable. Soil type / quality and water supply determine the nutrient supply of a tree. The right amount of light influences photosynthesis, location-specific temperature curves mean longer or shorter growth periods.

Operational objective: If a forest area is to be "converted" because the existing tree species (s) do not match the location, or because other ecological goals are in the foreground, the rotation time is reduced by these operational goals. If the [intlink id = “383 ″ type =“ post “] wood prices [/ intlink] are currently not correct, or if you simply don't have a better alternative to better invest the forest value, you can increase the turnover time.

Short rotation plantations

A forestry peculiarity is represented by short rotation plantations. If the production target only depends on the annual biomass yield, the rotation times are significantly shorter. In these short rotation plantations, mostly for energy wood production, only fast-growing tree species such as poplar or willow are used. These stocks are already driven off after 3 to 10 years.

Cycle time reached? No clear cutting necessary!

When the rotation time is reached, this does not necessarily have to be equated with clear-cutting. Clearing is associated with many negative side effects. Decreasing water storage capacity, degradation of the humus layer, elimination of shade providers for shade-loving tree species, etc. speak clearly against this harvesting method. A clearing of the forest can be done by specific cut forms (umbrella cut, femel cut, hole cut, hem cut). By loosening up the existing structure, light comes back onto the ground - the best prerequisite for inexpensive and ecologically sensible natural regeneration.