Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Post-Fire Logging is Beneficial

Post-fire logging study landscape in Washington. Source: Richy Harrod, USFS

Similar post-fire site nearby showing fuel buildup.  Source: Richy Harrod, USFS. 
A new study reveals that harvesting fire-killed trees is an effective way to reduce woody fuels for up to four decades following wildfire in dry coniferous forests.

“Large wildfires can leave behind thousands of acres of fire-killed trees that eventually become fuel for future fires. In the past, post-fire logging has been conducted primarily to recover economic value from those fire-killed trees,” said David W. Peterson, a Wenatchee-based research ecologist with the Pacific Northwest Research Station who led the study. 

The study shows that post-fire logging also provides a tangible long-term fuel reduction benefit, giving forest managers another tool for managing woody fuels in dry forest landscapes. 

“In comparing logged and unlogged stands, we found that logged stands had higher fuels than unlogged stands, on average, during the first five years after fire and logging, but then had lower fuels from seven to forty years after fire, with the greatest differences being found for large-diameter woody fuels,” Peterson said. “This study provides a sound scientific basis for forest managers to consider fuels management goals along with recovery of economic value and wildlife habitat concerns when deciding when and where to propose post-fire logging.”   Read the full release here


  1. How does this research compare to that done on the Biscuit Fire where it was found that post-fire logging did more harm than good? The Biscuit Fire research is peer reviewed and supported. I realize the findings are different but why is that?


  2. One major difference here is the time scale of fire risk reduction.

    From a fuel reduction perspective, both studies actually agree that fuels and fire risk increase in the first few years post-salvage logging. But after that, this new study indicates that salvage logging can reduce fire risk in the long term (decades after a fire).