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Forest Stewardship

Maintaining Healthy Working Forests

Healthy forests are more productive and resilient to wildfires and disease.

Forests benefit the climate, biodiversity and society and are at the core of Green Diamond’s business. Over five generations, we have honed the use of innovative forestry management techniques and technologies. Guided by the research of our natural resource professionals, we continue to assess and advance methods of sustainable forest management and production.

Customizing Our Harvesting Methods

We tailor our harvesting methods to suit the location and type of each forest we manage. Each year, we harvest less than 2% of our lands, which we quickly replant with native species. We plan our harvests carefully, using advanced technology and methods to minimize our disruption to the environment. Our employees receive extensive training and thorough checklists related to safety, the environment and other issues to ensure that all of Green Diamond’s forest management and protection practices are upheld.

Think Like a Forester

Every harvest requires careful preparation and planning. Factors we consider include:

  • Tree species and age
  • Special environmental conditions
  • Availability of access roads and landings, which we use to reduce our disruption to streams and wetlands
  • Trees and buffers near streams and wetlands, which we maintain to protect wildlife habitats and water quality

Across our divisions, on a good portion of our lands, we have found that even-aged management (the removal of most trees on the site) can be an effective means of ensuring prompt reforestation. When carefully applied in a suitable environment, this can enable rapid new forest growth. This is particularly true when growing species that require abundant sunlight, such as redwood and Douglas fir. We also use uneven-aged management (the periodic and selective removal of trees from a site) when it is most appropriate for the site’s productivity, health or conservation measures.

California Reforestation

Our reforestation program is simultaneously the final phase of our harvesting activities and the initial phase to ensure establishment of a healthy new forest. In the California redwood region, our comprehensive reforestation program starts with site preparation and production of high-quality planting stock grown in our Korbel Forest Nursery. The redwood trees we plant today are the result of over 40 years of investment in sound science and applied research. Using traditional genetic tree improvement methods, Green Diamond’s program was established with the selection of plant material from locally sourced redwood, referred to as “plus trees” for their phenotypic traits such as form class, height and growth rates. This material was used to establish field trials and re-selected to use the very best materials for commercial propagation.

At the same time, in the mid-1970’s, with the support of the University of California, Green Diamond pioneered the development of efficient propagation technologies to scale up production of the top selected trees in the Korbel Nursery. The nursery’s dedicated manager worked for almost 40 years taking care of and producing these valuable materials for operational plantings. The result is redwood trees that are better adapted to the environment and generate more volume per unit area than unselected trees. Millions of redwood trees have been planted using this technology, and the process continues with a new generation of superior trees to contribute to the sustainability and profitability of our business in the long term.

Our reforestation program is balanced for native forest species, including Douglas fir seedlings grown from the seed of superior mother trees that were grafted and planted in seed orchards. Those trees were selected based on their adaptability and high productivity, following similar testing procedures described above for redwoods. It is through these efforts that Green Diamond ensures the production and protection of native forests to meet our goals for both ecological and economical resilience for many generations to come.

Optimizing Our Approach with Technology

Green Diamond’s operations are vast, much of which our foresters survey from the ground. However, to gain a deeper understanding of our timberlands’ growth rate, volume and inventory, we invest in innovative LiDAR (light detection and ranging) technology. Using LiDAR, we can map our forest’s canopy and density on a large scale. The result is more informed forest management and harvesting plans and practices.

Another innovation our team in California has embraced is the use of heavy-lift drones to transport large equipment. The drones can fly equipment up to about 45 pounds up hills and down slopes to reduce strain on our employees.