Working Woods Forestry Treatments

Working Woods at the Holden Arboretum demonstrates multiple management techniques, including:

Single Tree Pictorial Explanation
Single-tree Selection Explanation. Click to enlarge

Income and Regeneration: A Single-tree Selection Cut

In the southern half of working woods, in the area where the old sugarbush is, there is a mature, somewhat overstocked and somewhat declining Beech-Sugar Maple forest. There are enough trees here that some can be harvested and rejuvenate the forest, providing light for younger, healthier trees. The Single-tree Selection Cut demonstrates how landowners can derive income from timber while maintaining a healthy woodland.

With the help of a professional consulting forester, timber is marked, cut, removed and sold so that we can tell the story of single-tree selection harvest from start to finish. For more on how a single-tree selection harvest is different than other techniques that might be more economically—rather than ecologically—focused click on the poster to the  below. Every step of the process considers the health of the forest: unhealthy, over-mature trees are selected for harvest first and horses and light-impact machinery are used to carefully extract logs with minimal damage to remaining trees.

For this treatment, about ~12 acres are being cut, which means around 9-10 trees per acre harvested. At Working Woods, about 115 single trees have being selected for cut.


timbering in deciduous woodland

Timbering in deciduous woodlands.

Thinning and Revitalization: An Improvement Cut

Girdled and felled trees
Girdled and felled trees

The northern portion of Working Woods is dominated by young, unhealthy woods of low biodiversity and dense, even-aged red maple/tulip poplar trees. In this area, an Improvement Cut is applied. Thinning makes more space/resources for the healthiest trees, letting them grow faster and healthier. No trees are being extracted from the improvement cut: trees will be felled or girdled, so that they contribute to the organic matter of the forest floor or provide habitat for wildlife.

Timber Stand Improvement

Invasive plants and grapevines are controlled to promote native biodiversity and regeneration.

TSI Treatment


Agroforestry is a system of cultivation which integrates existing ecological conditions with production goals for human use. While timber management treatments exist at the center of the site, the edges of Working Woods present an opportunity to use agroforestry to demonstrate non-timber forest product (NTFP) cultivation.

The ecosystems of Working Woods provide opportunities for demonstrating everything from mushroom growing on logs, to maple syrup, to medicinal plant cultivation.

These agriculture-forestry integrations are growing in popularity amongst hobbyists and homesteaders and present an inspiring and engaging experience that contrasts conventional agriculture. Agroforestry practices also provide viable alternatives to tree harvesting for income to landowners. Agroforestry in Working Woods will be phased, growing as the Working Woods project grows and changes.

Working Woods Agroforestry Map