Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Genevieve Fraser: In Defense of Select Forest Clear-Cutting for Wildlife Habitat

Over 90% of MA forest is mature
with few open areas for wildlife
In Defense of Select Forest Clear-Cutting for Wildlife Habitat
By Genevieve Fraser

Though the practice of forest clear-cutting may be less aesthetically desirable for the public, it creates preferred habitat for many species. Regenerating and young forest habitats created through forest management, including clear-cutting, provide food, shelter and breeding habitat and contain a greater diversity of wildlife species than any other forest age class. 

Over 90% of Massachusetts forest is now mature forest cover which shelters certain wildlife, but most are also wholly or partially dependent on early successional (young) forest habitat. If the thick canopy is not opened soon by environmentally-sound harvesting (logging), we may soon witness  further decline and eventual extinction of a number of species.  Early successional habitat is absolutely essential for birds such as grouse and woodcock. It is also essential for other species that although not officially listed as rare, are experiencing sharp population declines due, in part, to habitat loss- birds such as prairie warbler, brown thrasher and whip-poor-wills to name a few. 

Early successional forest habitat - Prescott Peninsula,
Quabbin Reservoir
It is for this reason I believe Amendment #106 to the Massachusetts House budget must be defeated.  It would ban clear-cutting in state forests including Department of Fisheries and Wildlife lands where vitally needed habitat is established and protected.  Today, less than 5% of the Massachusetts forest is early successional. Though small forest openings allow certain songbirds to perch and sing, they cannot mate and need additional acreage if they are to survive and thrive. Clear-cut areas are critically needed, despite public opposition.  Please contact your legislators to defeat budget amendment #106.

1 comment:

  1. It strikes me as amazing that people who know nothing about forestry and forest ecology want to take away prescriptions that could help our forests. It is one thing to, as an example, work with your doctor on treatment, it's another to tell your doctor that always doing nothing is your best alternative.

    Thank you for this post. I hope Massachusetts doesn't pass the clearcutting ban, but I'm not hopeful. (I live in California, where everyone knows how to do my business, forestry, better than I do.)