food for thought (from alt.forestry)

dwheeler at dwheeler at
Wed Mar 18 13:33:38 EST 1998

In article <Pine.SOL.3.96.980316215444.16527D-100000 at>,
  "B. J. Nodello" <v7re at> wrote:
> I guess this is more of a question than a comment.  I realize that a lot
> of environmentalists state that cutting is not the same as a tree dying
> (sorry Theo, but I believe that they die just as ourselves :)) because
> they are removed and not left to decompose and become soil.  Here is my
> question...In the harvesting opperations that I have seen (Manitoba, New
> Brunswick, and Nova Scotia) all the slash was left at the cut.  In
> Manitoba the slash was actually spread over the roads when the operation
> was complete.  Now is the majority of the nutrients in a tree stored in
> the wood or in the foliage?
> Brett
>               ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
>               ~                  Brett J. Nodello                ~
>               ~                    v7re at                   ~
>               ~  ~
>               ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I can't address the question of nutrients in the wood or foliage. However, the
question of larger woody debris (especially over 3" diameter) is something
more than just biomass for chips. In temperate coniferous forests, this
biomass becomes habitat for many animals, a long-term source of water for the
next generation of trees, and increases biodiversity by providing a place for
some truffles to fruit.

In David Aurora's Mushrooms Demystified, he notes the habitat of Hydnotrya
truffles by calling them "Wood Truffles." This is more than just a description
of where the truffles like to create sporocarps. It also likely involves the
accumulation of larger downed woody debris on the forest floor leading to a
climax forest system. Chris Maser in The Redefined Forest notes that a 400-
year-old Douglas fir may take another 400 years to degrade. While degrading,
it is habitat for innumerable animals, a water reservoir tapped into by
mycorrhizal fungi (such as Hydnotrya) in times of stress/drought, and not
likely to be destroyed in forest fires. Thus larger woody debris is important
for tree health in the long run.

This doesn't mean loggers can't take trees. Only that removal of _all_ woody
debris may be as bad as removing _no_ woody debris. Large woody debris is not
known to be an important adjunct to forest health and animal habitat. The real
question then is how much can be removed without impacting either habitat or
forest health.

That's one reason why I like selective harvesting over clearcutting.

Another reason is that most mycorrhizal fungi hate direct sunlight. Dr.
William Dennison of Oregon State University has noted that direct sunlight can
kill these essential fungi.

Daniel B. Wheeler

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