Date of Award
Master of Science
Wayne K Clatterbuck
Sheng-I Yang, Charles Kwit
Patch cutting is a harvest method with very little precedent in the Central Hardwoods Region of the United States. It is defined as a small scale clearcut of 2 to 5-acres, and it is generally prescribed in order to lessen the aesthetic impact of harvesting in highly visible areas. This study examines a change in harvesting from clearcutting to patch cutting that occurred at Natchez Trace State Forest, located in west Tennessee, in the 1990s. The objective of the study was to determine the regenerative effects of the patch cuts 25-30 years later. Various patch-cut harvest units that were harvested from 1991-1995 were sampled to determine the species composition of the regenerated areas. The same sampling procedure was followed to obtain information in areas that were clearcut in the 1980s prior to the change in harvest size. The patch-cut areas were hypothesized to have a higher prevalence of shade-tolerant species and less oak species (Quercus) than the clearcut areas. Data were compiled from both types of regenerated stands and compared. The areas that were previously patch cut are dominated by tulip poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera) and have little to no oak species present. Poplar is dominant throughout the sampled patches, even along the edge. The areas that were previously clearcut had a much more diverse species composition, with total oak species being the most prevalent in those areas by both trees per acre and basal area per acre. These results show that patch cutting is not an effective regeneration method for a multi-use public area such as Natchez Trace State Forest. Larger clearcuts done on a rotation to ensure forest stands at each stage of succession is better suited for these areas.
Biggerstaff, Joshua K., "Regenerative Effects of Patch Cut Harvests at Natchez Trace State Forest. " Master's Thesis, University of Tennessee, 2021.