Monday, February 20, 2017

The Tao of Forest Management

Deans of Forestry at Oregon State Univeristy Thomas Maness, Cheryl Ramberg-Ford and Allyn C. Ford pose in their recent article, that when it comes to proper management of our public forests, some would like to take a page from the ancient Chinese philosopher Lao-Tzu. He posed the concept of non-action as an approach to life. In our forests, if we do nothing and let nature take its course, this line of reasoning goes, these landscapes will return to a more “natural state” on their own.

The trouble is, the natural state of forests includes fire - a lot of fire. They will never return to a state that existed in the past, because the conditions that created them no longer exist. What actions should we take, they ask, to manage our forest for the multiple benefits we expect?  We need to recognize that fire has a role to play and that we can reduce the risk of catastrophic loss. 

Oregon State University research has shown that public forests will benefit from two proactive management techniques with a positive environmental impact: thinning and prescribed burning.  

The Cohesive Strategy promotes both of these methods to restore forested landscapes and increase forest health. There simply is not enough funding however, nor will there ever be, to mechanically treat the amount of landscape in need of treatment. Prescribed burning, as well as managed fires (from unplanned ignitions) will continue to become a more necessary tool in the land manager's toolbox.  

Oregon State is conducting additional research now that will help locate the best landscapes for using prescribed fire and where thinning is preferred, such as near communities. Stay tuned...

Read their full article here.  

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