Management Teak Forests

The earliest attempts to manage the natural forests of teak in India and Myanmar were through the selection system: a given tract of forest was worked in a predetermined felling cycle by cutting trees that had reached a certain minimum girth, with a proviso that where teak regeneration was absent, seed bearers were to be left standing. The number of trees to be removed in any year or over a given period was fixed (Troup, 1921).

A modified version of the selection system is still followed in some places. To induce or establish regeneration of teak, "improvement fellings" to remove inferior wood, damaged stems and climbers are carried out under a definite felling cycle. Under selection felling, the rotation is generally 120 years with a felling cycle of about 30 years. FAO (1999a) has estimated a harvesting intensity of 12 to 17 m3 per hectare per year for Myanmar's forests, using a 30-year felling cycle.

Coppicing of teak has been used to manage natural teak forests under different systems suited to local situations in India, Myanmar and Thailand. In particular, coppice systems have been applied to teak forests where trees do not grow to a large size because of excessively dry or other poor site conditions. An example is the "coppice with standards system", in which 25 to 50 trees per hectare are selected as standards, on the basis of their larger diameter, and are retained as seed-bearers. The remainder are clear-felled to produce coppice shoots. The rotation varies between 30 and 60 years; in rare instances it is 80 years (Kadambi, 1972). In a modified system, "coppice with reserves", practiced in Madhya Pradesh, India, advanced-growth and pole-sized trees are retained as reserves which will provide large-size timber in the next rotation. The rotation period varies between 30 and 40 years.

Modern forestry management techniques have been greatly reducing the rotation period and increasing the amount of wood harvested.