Some may think cutting trees as an opposite pole to stewardship, and with the old ways of desecrating the woods through clearcutting, those folks have a valid point.
Today’s stewardship foresters have different mind-sets; I’d say more progressive ecological goals. Along with monetary concerns, they may think about how logging will affect wildlife, soils, water. When forests become too thick and more prone to fire effects, forest planning can be a good thing.
The main goal for stewardshp forestry is a result that leaves the same or wider biological diversity than before the saws began their work. Variety is truly the spice of life in a diverse forest.
Small diameter trees that are all competing for sunlight and have become stunted, lose their potential to become giant trees, and large trees are homes for larger animals. Trees over 20″ in diameter can become old growth trees, important for more than 100 species of wildlife.
So, we’re talking about forest thinning not clearcuting, and instead of having a uniform spacing of remaining trees, we leave patches where no trees are cut, because wildlife goes into these security pockets to hide and escape when threatened. Some species are “ecotoners.” In other words, they feed in the open meadow and nest in the deep woods.
Leaving a variety of tree species is an important consideration. Oaks, as we have learned in my previous Blogs, are premiere wildlife trees due to their acorn crops. Conifer trees such as pines and firs offer great nesting possibilities, arborial connectivity, shading, and visual beauty. Retaining trees by water is important for cooling stream temperatures, providing a wildlife corridor, and keeping water for longer in the year if your creek is only seasonal.
Winter logging when the soil is frozen, will lessen or prevent erosion and keep the soil in good shape for the spring growing time. Keeping some logs on site will provide homes for amphibians and reptiles, and if the logs are large enough, glorious megafauna, like bears, may spend their winter there.
Consider leaving a treed buffer around sensitive habitats including wetlands, talus slopes, waterways, seeps, and springs.
After logging, be aware of exotic weeds that may find a new sunny patch from which to grow and thrive. Monitoring your thinned site after your forestry activity, will inform you whether you want to re-plant trees in certain spots, and provide lessons to be used the next time you wish to practice stewardship forestry. ~