Hello, hoping someone could point me to some resources (scientific) on forest ecology dealing with the pros of leaving dead material where it is in the forest. My thoughts, because there is a lot of pine beetle issues in my area, that dead trees cut down will no longer provide habitat for birds like woodpeckers that are one of the main predators of pine beetles. If forest floors are being "cleaned" of materials, the forest floor are then not building more organic material for water retention and are prone to disease/fire/insect damage.
Thoughts? I kinda thought about this when watching Sepp's videos and he talked about pest problems being a clue into forest management mistakes.
Forests are very dynamic and what I see as the biggest issue today in modern forestry is the overuse of wood chippers. The blame lies on many factors including greed and perception, but I think the foresters and loggers of today just do not see enough into the future to see where they are making a monumental mistake.
I recognize that today's feller-bunchers, forwarders and chippers can do an amazing job in the woods and make a thinning look absolutely park-like, but that aesthetics is like putting lipstick on a pig. Yes it looks good, but underneath it is still a pig. Part of it is greed. When you remove the slash and tops it is about 40% of the forest, and that adds up to some serious cordage/tons of wood. While biomass does not pay all that well; maybe $3 per cord, because there is so much of it, it does add up. Loggers like that, and landowners like how clean the woods look, but that is 40% of the woods waste removed. The real question is, what does that slash and tops do if it is left?
That is a VERY GOOD thing! This not only adds microbes to the soil, it adds soil itself, and again 40% is a lot! I am a logger, but I use a simple cable skidder and chainsaw so my slash and tops are left behind. These provide habitat for birds, for deer, and allow the ecosystem to thrive. Since on a selective cut I am only taking trees that nature would cull anyway, it is a very low amount of removal percentage wise. But for a few years I admit this slash and tops looks bad. But my question is...if it does so much for the forest, so what? Have a little patience landowners. Parks are for certain locations for the public to enjoy, a working forest is far different. The diversity of wildlife is just so much greater than a park, and we have to account for that as landowners of a working forest.
Sadly in the very near future I see what I do as being endangered. When I stared logging at 15 back in 1989, there was thousandths of "me"; landowners who logged their own woodlots. Now I am a dying breed. The average logger in Maine is 55 years old, (I am 42) and mechanization where they take the entire tree, limbs, tops and all is the standard method of logging. Because of the cost, most landowners contract it out to people who really do not care.
Last week when a paper company forester came to my farm and discussed logging it, he kept touting up the virtues of chipping the tops and limbs, and was like "stop, that ends up being soil, and I can only farm on soil." He then admitted that wood rots, but it really is not his fault. For most landowners a park-like appearance is what makes or breaks a logging operation. I predict in 20 years time we are going to look back at the current way we log and be appalled at ourselves for not seeing the obvious. Taking everything is not in the best interest of the forest.