A limited rapid assessment of forest regeneration in 24 cypress and Tupelo bottomland swamps following clearcutting and shovel logging in the coastal plain of North Carolina.
A rapid regeneration survey within twenty-four deepwater swamps between stand ages 2 and 14 years in the North Carolina coastal plain was conducted by using a narrow rectangular inventory technique ("strip cruise"). Inventoried tracts predominantly contained cypress (Taxodium distichum) and tupelo (Nyssa species) before being harvested via clearcutting methods. Single transects on each tract began at coordinates located in the interior of the harvest areas in locations representing general tract conditions. Each transect was perpendicular to the flow of the major stream drainage associated with the harvest area. Counts and measures of dead and live stumps and seed-sourced regeneration were recorded. About 52 percent of desirable timber species stumps tallied had coppice growth. However, coppice alone was not sufficient on any tract to exceed 1112 trees ha-1. Seventy-one percent of tracts had stocking levels (coppice and seed source) at least 1112 trees ha-1 of desirable timber species or black willow (Salix nigra). Across 24 tracts, 42 percent regenerated cypress and/or tupelo to levels exceeding 1112, trees ha-1. This assessment revealed that forest regeneration success was limited on sites with altered hydrology, rampant invasive species, and/or lack of seed source. In some cases, active forest management may improve the regeneration cohort. Overall, shovel logging methods that were used on evaluated sites appear to be compatible with adequate regeneration of desirable timber species if the proper conditions exist. Additionally, we assessed species' composition within a harvested stand measured at age eight years (a previous study) and age 68 years (measured for this study), for a comparison perspective. Results revealed a species composition change from willow at age eight years to a mixed stand of desirable timber species at age 68 years. This finding supports other studies that have recorded the successional pattern of pioneering willow shifting to desirable timber species as willow stagnates and diminishes in abundance due to natural mortality.