Readers respond: Change forest management


In light of human-induced climate change, loss of forest cover world-wide, and habitat degradation, the decades old model of industrial forestry must go. Timberland Investment Management Organizations and Real Estate Investment Trusts for too long have taken over the ownership of many forests with one goal in mind–maximize short term profits. Their model of extractive logging on public and private lands—clear cuts, logging roads, monocultural plantations, extensive herbicide spraying, soil disruption, and debris piles—is driving climate change, amplifying the severity of heat waves and drought, causing more severe fires, and unraveling the ecological balance of plant, soil, and animal habitat.

Ecological forest practices will move us away from even-aged timber management and short-term rotation. Ecological forestry will value heterogeneous forest stands of varied layers and ages and preserve aged stands for carbon sequestration. Our forests store billions of tons of carbon dioxide that would otherwise end up in the atmosphere, and they also help regulate local temperature and precipitation patterns–functions that are as important as their carbon-storing potential. An ecological model will protect water quality and soil stability, and it will provide habitat for fish and wildlife. Unlogged forests of varying strands, especially older trees, provide high canopy cover, wind breaks, and a cooler and shadier microclimate. Naturally occurring fires are less severe in such a landscape, and natural fires provide snag habitat for many species.

Climate change mitigation and biodiversity protection must become an essential part of forest management.

Greg Jacob, Hillsboro

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