When considering a forest, its canopy is one of the major concerns in classifying it. A canopy is defined as the coverage of trees or vegetation caused by their crowns, combining their twigs, leaves, and epiphytes. These trees often provide a certain cool shade, which is quite enjoyable on a hot day, enjoyed by humans and animals that live in the forest. They block direct sunlight from reaching the ground, enabling those plants that thrive in low sunlight. In the process, they also benefit by absorbing all the sunlight they use to photosynthesize their food, enabling them to grow taller and have larger crowns.
Canopy density is the measure of the proportion of the ground covered by the crowns of these trees. Any area that is blocked from direct sunlight is considered part of the canopy density. High canopy density areas discourage the growth of grass on that ground due to low light penetration. As much as such canopies prevent rain from hitting the ground directly during a rainy season, this could still leave that soil below at risk of erosion. Having forests with such high canopy densities with no vegetation cover at the bottom could be risky even for those living around such areas, a factor mostly experienced in man-made forests.
In these types of areas, once a forest is measured and found to have a high density, thinning can be controlled. This is occasionally trimming some branches and leaves to meet a certain standard requirement. Such actions allow for the growth of grass at the bottom and penetration of sunlight to the bottom, which could help in the drying of fuels. These fuels are used for winter burning, which is only possible under low canopy density areas.
Another method people use to control this density is by harvesting those trees. The timber could be used as fuel or raw material to produce different commodities for everyday use. While harvesting, it is important to remember that we should not deforest the area and plant a tree where we’ve cut down one. The controlling of canopies should not be used as an excuse for deforestation.
This concept can also be applied to your farm when measuring the canopy density of your vineyard. It is done to determine which control methods would be best to apply on your vineyard, either leaf pulling, running, pruning, and hedging. Each method is best applied when the canopy is of a certain percentage.