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Forest management essential to base land use

  • Published
  • By Brandon Bailey
The priorities of Air Force land use are sustainable mission support and stewardship.

As a result, its forest management is not primarily dictated by traditional commercial forestry practices that emphasize optimal yields of forest products. Instead, the AF strives for ecologically-sustainable management of its forests to maintain the continued supply of desired ecosystem services, including realistic training settings and mission support in general, as well as maintenance of native biological diversity.

This sustainable approach to management is conveyed in the Arnold Air Force Base Forest Management Program practices. We promote ecosystem integrity at landscape levels while continuing to provide wood products and other ecosystem services. Natural models of forest disturbance and stand development provide the scientific basis for defining ecosystem integrity and developing sound tree cultivation practices.

In support of the AAFB Integrated Natural Resources Management Plan, the Forest Management Program conducts annual forest products sales. The 2018 forest products sale includes various treatments over 239 acres of loblolly pine plantations beginning in May.

Of the 39,081 acres at Arnold, 29,764 acres are pine and hardwood forest. Pine forests at the base consist of planted loblolly pine plantations in a variety of age classes. Hardwood forests consist primarily of closed canopy oak-hickory forest types ranging from upland hardwoods on well-drained sites to mixed bottomland hardwoods on poorly-drained sites.

Arnold AFB manages all of its forests with a sustainable approach, but the primary focus for managing and harvesting forest products is within pine plantations.

Loblolly, shortleaf and white pine trees were planted at the base in the 1950s for a variety of reasons, including sound attenuation and converting low-quality hardwood sites into more productive, high-quality pine sites.

Arnold established a formal pine reforestation program in 1983 aimed at producing commercially valuable pine pulpwood and saw timber. Currently, the base manages approximately 5,000 acres of planted loblolly pine plantations on a 50-year rotation. Various treatments occur during this rotation including planting, thinning, harvesting and preparing the site to be replanted or allowing it to naturally regenerate.

For more information on the Arnold AFB Forest Management Program, contact the Arnold Natural Resources manager at 931-454-3230.