Forest can take care of itself

Editor:

Your recent article supporting burning up our forests for biomass swallowed lock, stock and barrel, the Industrial Forestry Paradigm. As a fire ecologist, I continuously see the timber industry promoting misinformation about wildfire.

First, numerous studies have shown that thinning the forest is ineffective and inefficient at preventing fires in communities. The Camp Fire that burned Paradise burned through an area that was logged just 10 years before. Most of the homes that burned down were not touched by the flames, rather it was wind-blown embers that caused them to burn to the ground.

Furthermore, logging typically puts more fuel on the ground. A recent FS research paper documented that thinning put 2.7 times more fine fuels on the ground compared to untreated stands. This is what burns in a forest fire, not the boles of trees — which is why you have snags left after a fire. Thinning also opens a forest to wind and drying.

Worse yet, logging activities releases far more GHG emissions than a forest fire. In Oregon, for instance, logging is the biggest contributor to GHG emissions in the state.

Even burnt trees store carbon. Since you can’t predict where and when a fire will occur, thinning is inefficient, and unless it burns, the forest is storing carbon.

Burning up the forests to produce energy only means we get more GHG emissions now.

The way to protect communities is to reduce the flammability of homes. The forest can take care of itself.

George Wuerthner

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