View across hardwood log stockpile to gum forest
Early forest thinning creates more climate change resistance. Photo: ©Tony Neilson

Cut down more trees

One of the best ways to save our forests is to cut down more trees! Sounds like a red rag to a preservationist bull, but the science and history confirm it works.

In a former life, I spent many years representing the public image of forestry companies under severe pressure from politicians and the environmental lobby.

At issue was the widespread perception that all forest logging was bad and that the trees (yes, even those in plantations and grown to be harvested) should be left to die of natural causes.

Indigenous people and professional foresters down the ages know only too well that controlled burning, thinning and selective logging can benefit  the overall health of forest eco systems.

Now, as global forests feel the heat from climate change, there is fresh support for the ‘log-to-save’ approach.

View inside an American oak forest
Natural forests like these American oaks capture up to 20% of US carbon emissions. Photo: ©Tony Neilson

Science Magazine reported in April that in places like the American West, rising temperatures and drought mean less water for trees, sometimes shrivelling swaths of woodland. (Exactly that has recently happened to thousands of hectares of mangrove forest in Australia’s Gulf Country.)

Scientists have found that thinning early in forest growth creates tougher trees that can endure climate change, the respected journal reports. Even better, these thinned forests can suck carbon out of the air just as fast as dense forests.

“When it comes to carbon sequestration and climate change adaptation, we can have our cake and eat it too,” says Andrew Larson, forest ecologist at the University of Montana in Missoula and author of the new study. “It’s a win-win.”

US forests capture up to 20% of the country’s carbon emissions annually. But if trees get too crowded, they compete for light and water—and stressed trees are more susceptible to drought and insect attacks. Removing some trees, says the study, can ease the competition, letting the remaining trees grow big and healthy.

Natural Images 2017©

©2018 TONY NEILSON All Rights Reserved. All images are protected by Australian copyright law and cannot be downloaded or reproduced without my permission. Please contact me.

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