Friday, August 1, 2014
To Save a Forest Harvest a Tree
I visited the stump of a large maple tree today. Yesterday I and others in our neighborhood watched as men came with chain saws and pulleys and climbing spikes and cut the tree down, limb by limb. They were careful to spare the houses on either side. The tree had rot in its trunk. It was in danger of falling. My husband and I made much of our living managing timber harvest and the manufacture of wood products. I was sad to see the maple go and sadder for those who enjoyed its shade. The maple's job was ornamental, part of a prized landscape. The trees of our careers had different jobs. They were part of working forests - grown for the value in their fiber. While growing fiber, the trees in a working forest provide other benefits. The forests offer shelter for species of all kind. Their bogs and marshes filter water. Their shade keeps streams cool for fish. A working forest consumes carbon dioxide through photosynthesis. Working forests support a vast economy of jobs and raw material for many products. Did you know that rayon is made from cellulose? 56% of America's forest land is privately owned. 62% of that private ownership is in small, family farms. Most privately owned forests are managed carefully and with far more investment and intensity than public lands. Seedlings are planted after each harvest to assure that the forest will remain. Setbacks and set-asides are managed to protect rivers, streams, endangered and threatened species and public views. Here is a link to a US Forest Service publication that tells the story of private forests. A tree cannot live forever. Like the maple on our street, it will rot and fall. But a forest can live forever - as long as there is market value for the wood. Without a market for wood products, the landowner might be tempted by a higher value use for the land. Perhaps a housing development or a new highway. If you want to save a forest, harvest a tree.