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CCF selection system


This system focuses on favouring individual quality trees through selective harvesting hence the name selection. It aims to fully integrate production, conservation and social values within each forest.

Unlike clearfell and shelterwood systems where all trees in the stand are managed towards a uniform target size to be harvested over a relatively short period of time, selection silviculture aims to create an irregular structure. The objective is to deliver a “conveyor belt” of timber where high quality sawlog matures at different times.

Natural forest succession phases

Harvesting therefore not only generates a sustained yield income, but also can rejuvenate the forest and makes room for new generations of trees to grow into the canopy. These usually come from in-forest seed germination (natural regeneration) but can also come from tree planting (enrichment planting).

The system ultimately aims to create a regular, steady income for the owner while minimising costs and strengthening the forest key natural features. Under selection management the timber is, in essence, viewed as the biological interest generated by the growing forest capital. 

One of the main advocates of this approach is Pro Silva Europe (external link), an umbrella organisation present in most European countries, including Ireland, and made up by forestry practitioners, ecologists and forest owners.

Key features

Key features of selection silviculture are:

  • It is modelled on natural forest succession phases (see diagram below)
  • Focus on individual quality trees through selective harvesting
  • Harvesting patterns mimicking natural disturbance
  • Aims for multispecies / irregular structure as key to provide resilience and sustained yield through a production ‘conveyer belt’

Advantages and disadvantages


  • High level of structural diversity
  • Increased ecosystem resilience
  • Very high quality timber production potential
  • Potential integration with other products / services at forest level


  • Requires regular inventory / monitoring
  • Requires skilled and trained practitioners
  • Requires long-term planning
  • No large timber sale / payment at any one time