You’ve bought the perfect piece of land. Acres of fertile fields just crying out for a vegetable garden, a handcrafted house, and a big chicken run. Your goal of a productive homestead is within your sights.
But there’s a catch. A scrappy forest covers your land. You need to clear it before your dream can become a reality.
Forest logging may conjure up images of a lone woodsman cutting down tall trees with his trusty ax. Or maybe you’re thinking of large machinery tearing through woodlands, animals jumping left and right.
But let’s leave those images where they belong. In storybooks and movies.
In the 21st century New York State, logging has come a long way. Low-impact logging practices are the norm, not the exception. You can sustainably clear your land, improve the health of the area, and even make good money from timber sales.
Looking to tidy up your woodlot in Western NY? Read on to learn the secrets of sustainable wood logging.
Felling Woodland Has Environmental Benefits
We all know that trees provide us with the oxygen that we breathe. But did you know that they also act as filters, removing microscopic pollutants from the air?
And with roots extending under a mossy floor, forests are like a huge sponge. On a rainy day, the fertile carpet soaks up all that water. This replenishes the precious water table and stops flooding.
Managed forestry provides an astonishing array of environmental benefits.
The Gift That Never Stops Giving
Well managed timber logging is a renewable resource. It gives us wood–a versatile, biodegradable material that can be used in everything from factories to farms.
As noted by Michigan State University:
“Harvesting, processing, and manufacturing products from wood carry the lowest environmental cost of any raw material. So substituting a wood product with some other material in order to save a tree can actually be ecologically unfriendly.”
This centuries-old resource is still one of the most sustainable materials used in the USA today.
Refreshed Forest Ecosystems
Wood logging makes the forest more open and stops competition. This allows young plants to thrive in the unfiltered sunlight. Photosynthesis occurs unhindered, encouraging new growth.
An opened-up forest allows for better airflow. Without it, damp conditions build up. Diseases and infestations spread unchecked. Trees are more susceptible to damage from strong winds and cold snaps.
In fact, “a well-managed, selectively-harvested forest can keep more than 90% of its carbon stores and most of its biodiversity,” a The Nature Conservancy report claims.
For more on the ecological benefits of forest logging, read this handy Future Forest Consulting overview.
Low-Impact Logging Keeps Communities Safe
For local governments across the country, a sustainable wood logging strategy is integral to good community governance.
It helps public safety and makes for a healthy community. Contractors remove old trees and leaf litter in the practice of selective harvesting. And this contributes to the wellbeing of people.
Old Trees Fall Down
Years of exposure to storms and lengthy periods of drought damage aged trees. If these trees aren’t felled in time, they may fall on driveways and roads. Or even worse, on powerlines or roofs of houses.
People can get injured if they end up in the path of a falling tree. Repairs can cost thousands of dollars. New York State encourages low-impact logging so that state residents can avoid financial stress and stay safe.
By felling old trees you make more room for healthy trees to thrive. And that way, communities can still enjoy the natural cooling effect forests provide.
Reduced Forest Fire Risk
The process of wood logging also removes leaf litter and fallen branches from the forest floor. This reduces the fuel load and denies the forest fire its food.
The removal of introduced species of trees, shrubs, groundcover plants, and grasses allows native species to thrive. In areas where forest fires are common, fire-resistant plants become abundant once again. This can lead to woodlands that are less vulnerable to fire.
Some trees rely on fire to continue their life cycle. The jack pine, a common sight in New York State, needs fire to help spread its seeds.
Trees as Therapy
The stresses of modern society have given rise to renewed interest in the psychological benefits of a forest. In Japan, “forest bathing” is a popular de-stressing technique. In Scandinavian countries, forest schools give city kids the chance to run wild.
With low-impact logging, sustainably harvested timber leaves the healthy trees standing for all of us to enjoy.
Clearing a Forest Is a Managed Process
According to a 2015 USDA report, the Northern USA is home to 32% of the country’s national timberland. Owners need to carefully manage these woods to maintain them as a natural resource.
That’s where the practice of silviculture comes in.
“Silviculture is the art and science of controlling the establishment, growth, composition, health, and quality of forests and woodlands to meet the diverse needs and values of landowners and society.”
The discipline focuses on timber management, wildlife habitat, water health, sustainability practices, human recreation, and plant restoration.
It encompasses the entire lifecycle of woodland, from intermediate treatments like thinning for improved tree health and quality to regenerative tasks like harvesting of mature stands.
Foresters have also tapped into the expertise of the booming ag-tech sector. Low-impact logging is enhanced by using specialist logging equipment like off-road, hi-track log shovels, hot saws, and machines with versatile joy-stick controls. Today, even underwater logging is possible!
In New York State, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) regulates logging. “Preserving and protecting our forests benefits local communities and industries, and the state as a whole,” they explain on their website.
When looking for a forest logging consultant, make sure they uphold the voluntary Best Management Practices promoted by the DEC.
These guidelines are designed to:
- Reduce erosion and improve surface water retention
- Limit disruption to the natural flows of water
- Lessen temperature fluctuations where land meets water
- Ensure soil nutrients are evenly distributed
Try to work with a company that follows these BMPs. They are “keeping forests healthy and maintaining public support for timber harvesters,” says the DEC.
Forest Logging Can Make You Money
Wood is a natural, renewable resource in high demand in many industries across the USA. You can find locally-grown wood in everything from pulp, paper, and packaging to broom handles and buildings.
A whopping 96% of the in-country consumption of industrial wood is sourced from local felling operations. And “the majority of the forests in the US are privately-owned, with an estimated 58% of forest acreage owned privately by corporations or individuals,” states economic development firm Camoin 310.
So industries across the country need local landowners to provide them with their timber needs.
Local companies like Future Forest Consulting know the Western NY timber sales market inside and out. They offer a holistic service, facilitating the bidding process with up to 100 local logging companies to get the best return on your investment.
The money you make from timber sales following a land clearing can be put back into your business or homestead. It will have a direct influence on improving your quality of life.
Herbicides Have Their Place in Forest Logging
You’ve cleared the land. You’ve processed and sold the logs. But there are a few stubborn trees left that you want to remove.
Using herbicide for tree removal isn’t easy. It’s a job better left to the professionals. A knowledgeable forestry company can consult with you on the best herbicide solution for your type of trees.
For the foliar spray and bark methods, mix the herbicide with water and apply it to the outside of a tree. You can apply it by hand or with a backpack spray unit. More labor-intensive methods include stem injection or cutting stumps. Once the herbicide enters the sapwood tissues, it quickly destroys the tree.
Soil herbicide application is not a very popular method. It should only be undertaken by an expert. It can pollute water sources if it rains when an application is being carried out. Applied with care, the herbicide will only target the trees you want it to and leave the surrounding plants untouched.
In the right conditions, and when handled by a professional, herbicides can be a useful tool in your timber logging toolbox.
Providing for Future Generations
Armed with this knowledge, a landowner can be confident that choosing low-impact forest logging is the only way forward. It will lead to land that will not only be productive now but will also yield financial and ecological gains far into the future.
Want to discuss the next steps for your forested land with a seasoned forestry management professional? Contact Future Forest Consulting today.