Leave forests alone

  Dear HCN,

To suggest that logging in some way is a way towards forest health is like the medieval doctors who thought the best way to save a dying patient was to bleed them to rid them of "bad blood."

From an ecological perspective, there is no forest "health" problem. Disease, insects, and yes, even large fires are the normal course of events in forest ecosystems. The increase in these events is an indication that forest ecosystems are still functioning, and attempting to correct the imbalances created by 100 years of forestry. Logging truncates these activities, removes biomass, and creates other problems such as increased sedimentation, creation of roads, and other effects that lead to unhealthy forest ecosystems (HCN, 9/19/94).

Dead trees, the bane of foresters, are, ecologically speaking, more valuable to the forest ecosystem than live ones. They provide long-term nutrient sources for soils, snags that provide habitat for cavity-nesting birds, snags that fall into streams creating fish habitat, and even cover for some wildlife. I could go on and on, but the important point is that the best solution for the forest "health" problem is to keep foresters, loggers and firefighters out of the woods and leave the forests alone.

George Wuerthner

Eugene, Oregon

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