Sustainable Forestry or Progressive Forestry

Posted: August 21, 2013

Source – Logging

Loggers deserve recognition for practicing sustainable forestry in their logging methods. For many years, loggers have understood the value of responsible forest management. They know how to harvest timber in a way that leaves minimal impact on the forest that they love to work in. After all, they want to go back and harvest that forest again. It is about job security. The more timber that is available to harvest in years to come, the more logging jobs will be available for futuregenerations.

Just sustaining the current level of quality forests isn’t enough for these progressive loggers. Sustainable forestry is great, but loggers and foresters across the country are interested in more than that. They want to see the industry that they care about grow and thrive, not just stay the same. They practice progressive forestry.

So what exactly is progressive forestry?

Progressive forestry means a lot of things. It is a step beyond sustainable forestry practices. It is about not only making a minimal impact on the forest but improving that forest to yield higher quality timber and more of it.

The science of the forest

New developments in the science of the forest have allowed for new hybrid species of trees that can grow faster and provide good quality timber. These trees are planted in a plantation setting where trees are planted in rows. This allows for easier more controlled management and better yield per acre than in the typical natural forest environment. Even nonhybrid trees do well when planted this way.

What this boils down to is more woody material on less acreage which helps absorb more carbon. It is a win for the environment, a win for the logger, and a win for the mill owner. More trees can be harvested quicker and cheaper than in a natural forest setting.

Disease prevention

Harvesting timber using low-impact methods prevents scaring on trees that are left behind. The outer bark of a tree is its first line of defense against disease and decay. Doing minimal damage leaves a healthier more vigorous forest. A responsible harvest like this allows some sunlight to penetrate the canopy of the forest. Letting more sunlight through helps promote new growth. It also provides food and habitat for animals. This is good for the forest ecosystem as a whole.

Harvesting already diseased trees such as in the case of oak wilt can prevent the spread of the disease. Oak wilt is spread by root-to-root contact. If all the diseased trees are cut out of the forest along with any neighboring trees, it will prevent that disease from spreading to other parts of the forest. Some trenching may also be be necessary to cut the root connections. This is all part of forest stewardship. Be on the lookout for diseased trees and educate yourself on how to prevent their spread.

Managed Clearcutting

Some species of trees such as Douglas fir need full sunlight to grow and thrive. This is the only reason to do a managed clearcut. You need to maintain a good balance. Harvesting all the trees on the side of a mountain is not good management. Leaving the ground barren like this allows water to impregnate the soil which leads to runoff and even worse landslides.

The best practice is to harvest enough timber to allow sunlight to permeate the forest floor, yet leave enough trees to maintain the stability of the soil. This practice gives the forest a boost in vigor, that can lead to the ability to harvest that same piece of timber more often.

Better than we found it

All of these sustainable forestry practices, are progressive lending themselves to a better forest than would have been there naturally. It takes loggers and foresters with a deep sense of dedication to the forest they work in to manage the forests properly. In this case, Mother Nature doesn’t do it better.