Forests provide innumerable benefits for humans including fuel, medicinal plants, global climate regulation, food, habitat for animals, clean water, and many others. However, even though their continued existence is crucial for human life, forests continue to be sacrificed every year for unsustainable human consumption. The current demand for the resources that forests provide current exceed their natural regeneration rates. This is why applying sustainable forest management practices and timber harvesting activities are the only practical ways to ensure that forests can continue to benefit us in the future.
Sustainable harvesting and forest management includes ensuring that natural forests remain standing. Establishing plantations on land that has been deforested or degraded can help improve the condition of an ecosystem as well as meet consumer demand and reduce the burden placed on natural forests. Tree plantation requires a management plan that ensures the conservation, protection, and restoration of natural forests.
A clearcut which cuts down all the trees from a stand is generally preferable to a commercial clearcut which leaves smaller trees in the area. This is because the trees that are often left in a clearcut are the slow growing ones with an undesirable structure or of an unwanted species. This leaves a future forest with weak parents. By contrast, a clearcut can provide space for new tree plantation where new, younger, and healthier trees can grow.
Reduced-Impact Logging Techniques
Many people think logging involves using a bulldozer which leaves behind a completely barren land. However, for sustainable forestry, timber should be harvested without generating collateral damage to the other parts of a forest. Reduced-impact logging techniques ensure that a tree is felled without causing damage to nearby or adjacent trees. By observing these techniques, one can also avoid erosion, unnecessary waste, and higher carbon emission.
Crown thinning refers to a type of harvesting technique where the focus is on the remaining trees and not those that are about to be harvested. It is intended to provide more growing space for the trees that remain in the area by removing trees in the upper crown classes as well as any poorer quality stems and undesirable tree species. Crown thinning also encourages the remaining trees to grow faster and expand their individual crowns.