Forest thinning is a very deceptive practice which is primarily based on economics. It has nothing to do with the safety of people or property and everything to do with industry.
The ecosystem of a forest is a wonderful and intricate design that sustains life and balance. It includes much more than simply trees. The forest floor is home to numerous species, some very rare, of flowers, edible plants, fungi, mosses, lichens and nematodes. These species are protected by and noursihed by the growth of older trees. In turn the primarily unseen plant life protects and nourishes seedlings.
Wildlife is also terribly impacted by forest management practices. Habitats are disturbed or destroyed and for some creatures essential foods are eliminated with the removal of old growth or the thinning of younger growth.
The process involved in achieving the mananged forest is destructive in itself. It creates a break in the fragile balance of the ecosystem, allows sunlight into areas where essential shade plants once thrived, creates a great deal of top soil erosion, and numerous other detremental conditions. These include surface erosion, polluted rivers, lakes, diminished snow packs, loss of habitat and vital species.
Due to the practice of managed forests and the planting of same sized seedlings consecutively a forest becomes less able to defend or protect itself and more likely to burn completely should a fire begin. A natural burn in an untampered forest will not affect every tree due to the age of the trees, the spacing and the natural fuels that a fire will first burn before it burns a tree. Within these fuels on the ground are seeds that will only germinate by the heat of fire. another element that is overlooked in the thinning and replanting of forests. The USDA has been using many national forests as grazing land for cattle. This has prompted more intense burns and increased the erosion while deteriorating protective vegetation on the forest floor. In addition cattle in forests contribute to the destruction of top soil, the addition of disease, and contribute signifcantly to waterways being polluted.
Managed forest practices have not been shown to decrease fires, or increase safety to people. They have contributed to the destruction of a fragile ecosystem, diminished necessary old growth and essential vegatitive forest floor growth. They have threatened and in some cases destroyed necessary elements vital to sustainability. Soils are compromised as are the nutrients, nematodes and natural cycle of regenerating foods to plant and soil life. The manner in which thinning is done, the amount and type of equipment used, the extended presence of humans, disturbs and destroys a fragile balance that is fundamental to a healthy forest. These can not be replicated or replaced. Nor can they thrive in new and same aged thinned forests. The managed forests are a sad comparison to the beauty and intricacy of a natural forest. More than trees are lost in thinning, and the destructive methods used are devastating. Living in a forested area, one must understand the risk and accept it.
Our primary role should be one of stewardship that nurtures and protects these beautiful and disappearing natural treasures. Trees can be farmed for timber without impacting forests which are far more necessary and valuable than economics and profits.