Some of our roadside trees have outstandingly beautiful wood. Efforts investigating urban wood value recovery and some business models producing high-end products are taking advantage of this fact, a prime example being Connecticut’s own City Bench, Inc. So a question we have begun to examine at UConn is how we might utilize and recover value from trees designated for harvest at a Stormwise roadside forest management operation.
If we set out to select the best, most promising trees of various ages and species, at the optimum spacing for healthy growth, wind resilience and future management in our roadside forest strip, then conversely, we are in turn designating some trees for removal to provide the growing space for our desirable trees. Gardeners do this kind of thing all the time when they thin carrots and pull weeds. The difference is that while weeds get turned into compost, trees can be turned into all sorts of useful items depending on size, species and quality. However, if a silvicultural treatment implemented in a roadside forest strip is not connected to a larger harvest in an adjacent stand, economies of scale can impede utilization and value recovery by means of traditional harvesting methods.
A Stormwise treatment prescription applied, for example, to 400 feet of roadside, 100 feet deep impacts only 1 acre of land, so roadside management involving only the immediate roadside forest would not involve a lot of acreage. Traditional timber harvesting businesses with equipment typically designed to operate efficiently on 50 or 100 forested acres would not likely be interested such a small area or volume of wood. So suggesting Stormwise prescriptions for roadside woodlands where no adjacent timber harvesting is planned requires options for scale-appropriate strategies, equipment and methods for implementation, utilization and value recovery. To that end, micro-scale harvesting trials at UConn Forest testing small-scale equipment, value-added operations and small-volume marketing strategies are underway as part of the Stormwise initiative.