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30.10.04

Dead Wood

Life-giving Dead Wood "At Risk"

Many forest species are in deep trouble because of the removal of the dead and dying trees they need, campaigners say.
WWF, the global environment group, says insects, plants, birds and mammals are all suffering because of an increasing tendency to remove decaying timber.

It says old and dead trees mean forests are often in much better shape and more able to resist pests and other perils.

... A WWF report, Deadwood - Living Forests, says a third of forest-dwelling species rely on dead or dying trees, logs, and branches for their survival.

-- via SciTech Daily Review


This is among the reasons to be leery of post-wildfire logging. It's true that areas that have recently burned are often especially fire-prone. Not all biomass in an area is actually available as fuel, due to moisture or size. But a fire passing through can make available to the next fire what it leaves behind, by killing and drying the snags. So it seems logical to want to remove them. But a just-burned ecosystem is at its most vulnerable (the α phase of the adaptive cycle), so intrusions can easily cause damage -- for example, by provoking erosion. The presence of dead wood can be critical for the recovery and maintenance of some species (after all, they've evolved for thousands of years with no high-tech logging to take away the snags).

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