What is Commercial Logging?
The next time you sit down in a wooden chair or see a house being constructed using wooden boards, take a minute to think about where that wood comes from. The timber used in these projects is harvested through a process known as commercial logging. From wooden boards and beams to paper pulp, trees play a part in making countless everyday products.
The two methods typically used by loggers when cutting down trees include selective logging and clear-cutting.
With selective logging, only the most desirable trees are harvested. For instance, they may only harvest trees with valuable wood like mahogany, leaving the other trees behind
Clear-cutting, on the other hand, all the trees are harvested regardless of what type they are. This process completely clears the land, which is how it got its name.
Which Method of Harvesting is Better: Clear-Cutting or Selective Logging?
If you are like most people, you probably would say that selective logging is the best option. As it turns out, however, that isn’t always the case. With selective logging, healthy trees that are left behind are often damaged during the harvesting process. Cutting down trees requires heavy equipment. When the equipment moves past healthy trees, it can damage them. The percentage of trees that are seriously damaged is quite staggering. In fact, harvesting just one tree with selective logging can wind up killing 40% of the surrounding trees.
Which method of logging is the worst?
There are differing opinions. The main argument against clear-cutting is that it can lead to problems like soil erosion and nutrient depletion, leaving the land unable to support plant life in the future.
There are situations, however, where clear-cutting is a better option than selective logging. When a logging company uses selective logging, they only harvest the largest trees, which are the primary source of seeds for new trees. When they are removed, the seeds are lost. The trees that are left behind keep small seedlings from getting the sunlight that they need, which can keep them from growing into larger trees. With clear-cutting, on the other hand, the seeds that are already in the soil get a consistent amount of sunlight since there are no remaining trees to shade them. Because the seedlings grow alongside one another at the same pace, they all are able to get enough light, allowing them to eventually develop into fully grown trees.
Are there any logging methods that don’t do quite as much damage to the surrounding ecosystem?
As it turns out, there is one logging method, which is known as strip logging, that is less harmful than the other methods that are available. The goal of this type of logging is to replicate the natural regrowth process of rainforests.
A Closer Look at Strip Logging
Strip logging uses a special process to remove narrow strips of trees from the slopes that run alongside rivers. A section of trees directly next to the river is left intact. Further up the slope, however, the loggers build a road that runs parallel to the river. Next to the road, they remove a narrow strip of trees. A few years later, another strip of trees is removed further up the slope. As the nutrients erode from the freshly cut strip, they wash down the slope, helping the strip below to recover more quickly. This logging process allows each strip to regrow as additional strips are harvested further up the slope.
Erosion is minimized thanks to the fact that there are trees below the strip and nutrients entering the soil from above.
Reasons for Logging
From an economic standpoint, there are numerous reasons for logging. Land is often cleared for activities like ranching, extracting gas or oil, mining, urban development, or farming. Wood is also required for a number of building applications ranging from constructing homes and businesses to designing and building furniture. Paper, packing materials, product packaging, and other paper products also are derived from trees. The wood that is harvested can also be used to generate heat.
Steps You Can Take as a Consumer to Reduce Rainforest Logging
* Write, draw, or print on each side of a sheet of paper.
* Don’t throw away paper products – recycle them.
* Purchase recycled paper products. This includes printer paper, toilet paper, and paper towels.
* Read your local newspaper on the Internet instead of subscribing to the printed version.
* Keep using the same pencil until it is too short to be used anymore.
* Only buy furniture that is made out of certified wood. Certification ensures that the trees were legally harvested.
* Let companies that you buy products from know that you prefer eco-friendly packing materials like recycled paper.
* Reach out to companies that participate in logging activities that are harmful to the environment to let them know that you disapprove of their actions.
The Results of Irresponsible Logging
A Reduction in Biodiversity
Trees provide homes for a wide range of animals and insects. Removing trees from an area not only destroys the natural habitat of local creatures but also disrupts their food supply. Taking away trees also removes the source of seeds, keeping new trees from growing.
The Disappearance of Certain Animal Species
Some types of animals are entirely dependent on trees for their survival.
Once the trees are gone, the likelihood of extinction for these species dramatically increases.
When trees are removed from a rain forest, the land becomes barren since the soil is no longer receiving nutrients. Because the roots of the trees are no longer there to absorb water, the topsoil can easily be washed away.
Each year, rain forests get anywhere from about 1,500 to 3,000 mm of water through rain. If there are no trees to absorb this water, the chances of flooding dramatically increase. Mudslides are also far more likely to occur. This can be damaging to both the environment and the local economy. Heavy rains can destroy seedlings and small trees and can also do a tremendous amount of damage to structures in the area.
Flooding, large landslides, and other associated problems can even wind up killing people.
Blocked Streams and Rivers
As soil is washed away by rainwater, it is often carried into nearby streams or rivers. This sediment leaves the water cloudy which can interfere with the breeding habits of certain types of fish. For instance, salmon are only able to make nests or lay eggs in areas where the water is clear and where there are small pebbles.
Fragmented Forests Can Negatively Impact Local Wildlife
Cutting down trees can leave empty spaces between patches of trees. This can disrupt the lives of local wildlife, including interfering with their migration patterns, limiting their ability to find food, and ruining their habitat. Forest fragmentation can be devastating for animals, sometimes even leading to their extinction.
The Loss of Trees Contributes to Climate Change
Carbon is stored in trees. When forests are burned or cut down, carbon dioxide is released into the air. This greenhouse gas contributes to global warming due to its tendency to absorb heat.
This can have a detrimental impact on the environment, which can also cause economic harm.
As the temperature of the planet climbs, glaciers begin to melt, leading to a rise in sea levels. This alters the standard weather patterns all across the globe. As a result, hurricanes, floods, droughts, and other devastating weather events are much harsher than they were in the past.
Carbon is stored in trees. When forests are burned or cut down, carbon dioxide is released into the air. This greenhouse gas contributes to global warming due to its tendency to absorb heat. This can have a detrimental impact on the environment, which can also cause economic harm.
As the temperature of the planet climbs, glaciers begin to melt, leading to a rise in sea levels. This alters the standard weather patterns all across the globe.
As a result, hurricanes, floods, droughts, and other devastating weather events are much harsher than they were in the past.