Not all forests are created equal

The type of harvest depends on many factors

A landowner’s choice of a harvest and regeneration method is based on a complex evaluation of landowner objectives, economic considerations, regulatory constraints, site characteristics such as terrain, tree species and soil types, and effects on fish, wildlife, aesthetics, and other natural resources.


Harvesting timber provides logs for sawmills, but it also enables forest managers to better take care of the forests. Timber is often harvested to create wildlife habitat or to remove diseased, burned, or insect infested trees. Proper forest management is essential to forest health and sustainability.  Each timber sale is carefully planned and conducted. Every harvest is different, because the procedures and equipment used must be determined specifically for each site.

Technology Brings Continuous Improvements 

Technology has changed every part of the forest industry.  Foresters use computer modeling and telecommunications advances to access and add forest management data. Loggers use cutting-edge harvesting equipment that provides faster processing, increased fuel efficiencies and improved safety.

How Are Trees Harvested? 

Harvest events may occur multiple times during the decades-long life cycle of a managed forest. Landowners have different objectives and often plan management activities over time.

Click the image to learn more about why some forests are clearcut or click here.

Click the image to watch a short Forest Fast Break video about clearcutting or click here.


Types of Harvests

seedtreeSeed tree harvests leave a small number of large, mature trees to provide seed for the next stand.



shelterShelterwood harvests leave more mature trees that act as a seed source and protect younger trees from wind or excessive sunlight.  This method works well with species that will grow in some shade.



groupselSelective harvest removes only some of the trees to reduce the density and competition within the stand and increase the growth of remaining trees.   


clearcutClearcut harvest removes all the trees and instantly increases sunlight, essential for most species to grow.  Clearcuts are used to clear unhealthy forests and renew them with well-suited species.



Rules for Harvesting Trees

The Idaho Forest Practices Act was passed by the 1974 Idaho Legislature to assure continuous growing and harvesting of forest trees and to maintain forest soil, air, water, vegetation, wildlife, and aquatic habitat.  The law established a dynamic process for developing and enforcing forest practice rules for state, county, and private lands to protect, maintain, and enhance Idaho’s natural resources. Harvested sites are audited and the rules are analyzed to determine their effectiveness.  An advisory board of forest landowners, operators, informed citizens, and environmental and fisheries experts use this information to recommend rule changes to the State Land Board.



Click here to learn more about the question, ‘Are there laws that protect our forests?’


Making the Most of the Whole Tree

When a tree is harvested from the forest, Idaho’s forestry professionals respect the resource they work with. In fact, once a log reaches a mill, there is virtually no waste. The majority of the log is used to make lumber-based products, including framing lumber, siding, decking, and stock from which pencils are made. Wood chips are used to make paper and a variety of engineered-wood products used in construction, such as particleboard and oriented strand board. Other wood-fiber by-products of the milling process are used to fuel electrical generators to run factories. And the bark of the tree is used in landscape mulch, soil conditioners, medicines, and cosmetics. Cellulose also is an important ingredient in non-edible products such as eyeglass frames, steering wheels, hairbrush handles, cellophane, and photographic film.  All ecosystems are a potential source of medicinal resources.