Impact of Intensive Forest Management Practices on Wood Quality from Conifers: Literature Review and Reflection on Future Challenges

Julie Barrette, Alexis Achim, David Auty

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Purpose of Review: Intensive forest management practices are being implemented worldwide to meet future global demand for wood and wood products while facilitating the protection of natural forest ecosystems. A potential decline in wood properties associated with rapid tree growth makes it essential to quantify the potential impact of intensive management on the process of wood formation and, in turn, on its suitability for various end-uses. Recent Findings: Wood produced over short rotations is generally of lower quality because wood properties tend to improve with cambial age (i.e. the number of annual growth rings from the pith). The intensification of silvicultural practices can thus have measurable consequences for the forest products value chain. The use of new planting material from tree improvement programs could offset such effects, but questions arise as to the effects of a changing climate on wood produced from these plantations and the best silvicultural approaches to manage them. Summary: Based on these recent findings, we provide reflections on the need for a modelling framework that uses the effects of cambial age, ring width and position along the stem to summarise the effects of tree growth scenarios on wood properties. We then present challenges related to our limited understanding of the effects of several drivers of wood properties, such as climate variation, genetic material, and forest disturbances, among others, and highlight the need for further data collection efforts to better anticipate the quality attributes of the future wood fibre resource. We conclude by providing examples of promising new tools and technologies that will help move wood quality research forward by allowing (1) fast, efficient characterisation of wood properties, and (2) up-scaling predictions at the landscape level to inform forest management decisions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)101-130
Number of pages30
JournalCurrent Forestry Reports
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2023


  • Conifers
  • Future challenges
  • Intensive forest management
  • Plantation
  • Silvicultural treatments
  • Wood quality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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