Overcoming Obstacles to Variable Retention in Forest Management Science to Forum Proceedings


  • Kathie Swift
  • Phil Burton et al.




variable retention in forest mangement


In the early 1980s, coastal British Columbia was the focus of a global debate around forest management practices. The use of variable retention became a jurisdictional response to the criticism of past forest management, causing a shift away from the traditional clearcutting systems. With the outbreak of the mountain pine beetle in the Interior, the use of retention systems has now increased significantly across the province. What have the lessons from the Coast taught us as retention moves into the Interior? What does the latest science have to say about what we know and don’t know about this approach, and how it works when managing for the various values on the landscape?

Where is variable retention an option? Are there barriers (silvicultural, technical, and institutional) to the wider implementation of variable retention? Forrex, in partnership with the Forest Investment Account–Forest Science Program, the Sustainable Forest Management Network, and the Northern Boreal Research Partnership, presented this Science to Management Forum as a vehicle to explore and discuss how to overcome obstacles to variable retention in British Columbia’s forests. For the interest of readers and participants of this Science Forum, the information generated in the Café Process—which asked participants to articulate their vision of what successful implementation of retention would look like—will be summarized and made available in the near future.