Continuous Cover Forestry

Continuous Cover Forestry (CCF) involves a completely different approach towards woodland management to that which has been standard in Britain for the last century. Under this management regime, felling and regeneration of trees takes place continually or irregularly throughout the whole of the woodland area. There is no clear-felling of trees when they reach some pre-determined age. CCF is more a matter of managing an ecosystem compared to clear-felling which is more akin to growing and harvesting a field of agricultural crops.

CCF is a more natural system where forest conditions are retained at all times. There is no sudden or drastic change in the landscape, plants or animals which thrive under permanent woodland conditions, and the production of timber is more even and on a regular basis. It concentrates on producing a steady supply of large diameter stems or tree trunks rather than a larger number of smaller ones.

But CCF has its disadvantages too. It is not a general panacea suitable to all woods and all conditions in the UK. Clear-felling is still the only option in many areas such as those exposed to the wind. It is not ideal for rich heavy lowland soils either. It needs closer monitoring of the woodland, good natural regeneration which does not always happen in UK conditions - and a far greater ongoing expertise. The emphasis is more on quality than quantity of timber.

In Britain, the Continuous Cover Forestry Group was formed in 1991. CCF is practised more commonly in Continental Europe.

In Wales, the Forestry Commission has announced a notional target of converting half of the State woodlands there to Continuous Cover Forestry over time.

More:

  • D.R. Helliwell, 1999. "Continuous Cover Forestry".
  • FC Information Note No. 29. - "What is CCF" by W.L. Mason, 1999.
  • FC Information Note No. 40. "Transforming even-aged conifer stands to continuous cover management by Gary Kerr, 2004.