Study: Forest management creating problems

Oct. 3, 2011 at 8:27 PM
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CORVALLIS, Ore., Oct. 3 (UPI) -- Forests that appear unchanged and healthy can still lose structure, services and biodiversity under current forest management practices, U.S. researchers say.

Traditional management for wood production, such as clear-cutting, site preparation and replanting, tend to produce young forests with uniform structures and low diversity, scientists at Oregon State University said.

Large, old trees with cavities essential to many wildlife species are often absent in reconstituted forest, a university release said Monday.

"If you just look at a forest, it may look about the same as it used to," K. Norman Johnson, OSU distinguished professor of forest ecosystems, said. "But we're losing them without really knowing it."

Also being lost are carbon sequestration, water yields, wildlife protection and biodiversity of species, scientists said.

"Because the young forests are dominated by the same tree species, how could there be a problem?" the scientists ask in the report. "The problem is, of course, that critical forest structures and entire stages in forest development can be effectively eliminated from regional landscapes."

This leads to a "landscape trap," researchers said, a complete shift to new ecological processes that bear little resemblance to those of the past, and from which many forests will have difficulties recovering.

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