In the years following the fourth thinning, the plantation will begin to look more like a mixed hardwood forest comprised of mature tree species such as sugar maple, white ash, red oak, American beech, and black cherry. Biodiversity will increase and the forest will provide habitat for many mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and insects.
In this mixed forest, conifers will remain and depending on the species and location may provide valuable wildlife features. It is common for conifers to extend above the canopy of the hardwood species. These super-canopy trees provide habitat for animals like black bears to climb up as refuge or use as a bedding site. Many large birds like bald eagles, ospreys, and red-tailed hawks also use these trees as nesting, roosting, or perch sites. The trees also provide aesthetic value for people to enjoy!
Once an area planted with trees is converted from a plantation to a mixed forest and forest operations continue, selection thinnings will still be used but now hardwood species will also be selected for removal instead of just coniferous species.