USA: Timber industry’s wildly misleading attempt to promote increased logging on public lands

Recent editorials by timber industry spokespersons are a wildly
misleading attempt to promote increased logging of western U.S.
forests under the guise of reducing wildland fires and mitigating
climate change. The timber industry fails to mention, however, that
logging is one of the major contributors to greenhouse gas emissions
(Schlesinger, “Biogeochemistry: an analysis of global change”,
Academic Press, 1997).

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A recent scientific study found that completely protecting our
national forests from all commercial logging would significantly
increase carbon sequestration and reduce greenhouse gases (forests
“breath in” CO2 and incorporate the carbon into new growth), while
increasing logging on our public lands would have the opposite effect
(Depro et al. 2008, Forest Ecology and Management, Vol. 255). The
logging industry also makes numerous scientifically-inaccurate
assumptions about fire.

For example, the industry would have us believe that little or no natural growth of forest will occur after wildland fire. In fact, some of the most vigorous and productive forest growth occurs after burns, including in high severity fire areas in which most or all of the trees were killed (Shatford and others 2007, Journal of Forestry, May 2007). Fire converts woody material on the forest floor from relatively unusable forms into highly useable nutrients, which aids forest productivity and carbon sequestration.

The rapid forest growth following wildland fire sequesters huge amounts of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2).Whatever carbon emissions occur from combustion during wildland fire and subsequent decay of fire-killed trees is more than balanced by forest growth across the landscape over time. To put the issue in perspective, current emissions from forest fires are only a tiny fraction of those from fossil fuel consumption, and carbon sequestration from forest growth far outweighs carbon emissions from fire.

Native species have evolved with fire over millennia in western
forests, and many depend upon post-fire habitat. Interestingly, some
of the highest levels of native biodiversity among animals and higher
plants are found in unlogged forested areas that have burned at high
severity (Noss and others 2006, Frontiers in Ecology and Environment,
Vol. 4). It’s important for people to know the facts about fire,
ecosystems, and climate. Unfortunately, the timber industry is less
interested in the truth than it is in misleading people to serve its
own economic goals.

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Comments (1)

dougJune 16th, 2009 at 1:31 am

man, you really know how to shoot yourself in the foot…..keep up the good work ! you don’t have a hope of ever posing a threat to sound, proven science. i always kinda feel bad for you little eco brats, so closed minded… so controled…..

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