Post-Fire Logging Bad for Forest Regeneration December 3, 2013 by andystahl Oh, that’s in Spain. Move along, not relevant. Share this:EmailLinkedInTwitterFacebook
12 thoughts on “Post-Fire Logging Bad for Forest Regeneration”
Point well-taken Andy.
very nicely done study but at first glance it was a pretty severe salvage operation using ground equipment with associated problems. I tend to doubt that Donato will find this in his follow up study in Biscuit although i have not seen those data.
It is quite relevant to similar environments in the US especially since some have contended that salvage helps regen which surely was not the case in spain.
It is a pretty severe, low precip environment. Other than removal of some large logs, the amount of slash left and woody debris in this study looks like much of the recent salvage I have seen on USFS lands, some of which left a lot more wood behind than this study . The point about this study seems to be the longer term nutrient benefits of the woody debris as well as shade.
It does seem that burning the salvage slash in Biscuit had strong impacts on post fire vegetation and in many places perhaps should not be treated, which conflicts with fuels treatment objectives , But little salvage slash was burned after biscuit so a moot point in most places.
If it were up to me, I would adjust slash treatments and fuels reductions to fit the land. Decomposed granite soils would benefit from more slash on the ground, after a fire. Fire-prone areas would benefit from more fuels removed, reducing the impacts of inevitable re-burns. On the Biscuit, I saw tiny twigs on the ground, each of them holding back a surprising amount of soil. On my last salvage project, the checkerboarded lands should provide a stark contrast between public lands and private timberlands. The private land is well on its way to being a pine forest again, as it was in the past. The Forest Service land is choked with brush and bear clover, with very little pines punching through. They have had trouble with an herbicide plan, and funding, to have successful reforestation. Their window of opportunity has passed them by, but at least when there is a re-burn (and, yes, there has already been one!), the salvaged areas will better survive, despite the brush. Here in California, flying out the entire tree is costly but, it is an investment in the future of that land, knowing that future fires are coming.
Maybe reburn is not inevitable.
Maybe “brush” (diverse early seral vegetation) is good for awhile.
Maybe slow, low density conifer establishment is good.
2nd Law: Any maybe not. Who wants to manage their lives or the land on a bunch of hypothetical “maybes” anyway? We obviously have different definitions of “good” standing between us.
I think reburns are less common than some think but i need to see some data. They are surely less common at high elevations with infrequent fires.
And yes, those shrubs do a lot of good, some contend convincingly that the naturally regenerated lands at St Helens are far richer ecologically than the densely planted areas.
Here in California, re-burn IS inevitable! Historically, fires burn about every 10-20 years, according to fire scars on 300 year old trees. Using your “maybe” situation, maybe re-establishment of owl and goshawk habitat, as soon as possible, would be a good thing, instead of “hoping” it will return, despite both man-caused and natural ignitions? Preserving dead forests can only lead to higher intensity re-burns. We simply cannot go back to having pre-human forestlands, ignoring fuels build-ups and human-dominated reality.
No commentary on seedling spacing. The seedlings in the salvaged areas aren’t that far behind the politically-correct, SCB-approved seedlings. Never mind this is Med forest where competition is a big deal, never mind the spacing of the previous stand, which is pretty wide.
Never mind the obviously ridiculous expense of mowing a forest to leave it lay, with hand intensive, spendy lopping and brushing? Are you kidding me? This is where wonkery separates from practice, application from theory. Sure, you want to leave dead shade and water catchment, that can be done during the salvage operations.
If any of us are around in another 20 years, here’s to reading a follow-up…..
Donato has done a follow up on his original study but not out yet as publication.
Actually this was a very well done, small study, it was only about a hectare and addressed questions a lot of us had, After Biscuit I honestly could not say much specifically about negative impacts of salvage given the practices they used, There has been little science done on this highly controversial issue so one project like this in the world seems useful. It is not wonkery, it is science, it looks at specific factors that can account for differences in seedlings, which is not something I have seen any place else.
And given the results here, if they read the thing which seem dubious, there is plenty in here to support pro salvage since so much slash is often left behind, at least on federal lands, and Biscuit had a lot more than this study showed.
Donato’d data showed that clearly.
One does wonder how thing will look in 20 years but we might get decent results with a 5 year follow up study in spain,
But nobody has convinced me that these small differences in seedling vigor will matter in the long run, it just looks at basic ecological processes and explains the value of woody debris in this location.
Someone might nudge the pro salvage crowd to actually read this and not yawp until they do, but i expect few people from any end of the spectrum to actually read things closely cept for 2 paragraphs on facebook.
Doing pretty well here in Hanoi, where thank god, I just found a library with several hundred english books, I want to just roll around on them, I left all my other books in Kenya and it was getting desperate here.
I did read it. Looked at the references, too, recognized a lot of names, so I’m not surprised Andy brought it to our attention.
And Greg, just for fun, let me know if there’s a copy of The Ugly American in that library.
nope but i read it too a long long time ago.
I have not read the more recent references in this pub. I hope that they reported actual data and not opinion which is passed off later as data, The Karr Bioscience 2004 pub is rife with errors, I looked up all the citations on that. Talk about spin…..
But who know, maybe the later ones report actual experimental results.