Clearcuts & sustainability
larryc at teleport.com
Sun Oct 18 10:03:25 EST 1998
In article <nS9V1.1634$Gq.1807 at news6.ispnews.com>, rscott at wnstar.com
> Can someone give me a brief rundown on the environmentalists' claim
> that clearcutting is an unsustainable practice? I would like to know
> the reasoning and the factual basis for this assertion.
Given reasonable care for the soil, there is no reason that clearcutting
cannot be sustained for centuries.
You people up there in the NW corner of the state probably don't realize
how similar Oregon is to the north coast of the Mediterranean. Much of
southern Oregon is very similar to the Balkans and northern Greece,
except it is in the condition now that Greece was in 4000 years ago.
Centuries of thoughtless tree cutting and sheep farming virtually denuded
Greece of much of its topsoil.
There's a good chance that the plague of coyotes is doing more to
preserve PNW forests than any environmentalist movement. The coyotes
moving in have forced most sheep farmers out of business in Oregon.
There is no longer a slaughterhouse in Oregon that handles sheep, for
instance, which is why it is so hard to find lamb in the supermarket meat
Clearcutting actually promotes douglas fir seedling survival. D. fir
will not regenerate under a canopy. The question is not if clearcutting
is sustainable, but how much clearcutting is sustainable. Obviously, if
you level the forests in the entire region the ecosystem will not
survive. OTOH, it is pretty well established that the PNW can produce a
lot of wood with only temporary and local impact on the environment. The
operation normally provides habitat for some species and displaces
As long as the *amount* of clearcutting remains moderate and cutover
areas are given several decades to regenerate before adjacent areas are
cut, there is no long term harm. This is reflected in the Oregon Forest
Practices Act, as the maximum size allowed for a clearcut is now 40
acres. However, abuses in the past have sharply reduced the inventory of
undisturbed forests, so it's getting hard to find timber.
Most of the opposition to clearcutting by urban enviros is because they
don't like how it looks. There isn't much scientific reason to ban the
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