We sat down with Toni Engstrom from The Great Lakes Timber Professionals Associations (GLTPA) to discuss some of the common misconceptions people may have about caring for the forests. Here’s what she had to say:
Myth #1: Loggers are cutting down more trees than they are growing back.
Truth: More trees are grown than are harvested on an annual basis. Currently the growth-to-harvest ratio is about 2:1 for softwoods and 2.5:1 for hardwoods. Trees in the Great Lakes Region (and in most areas around the country) don’t grow to be thousands of years old like the California Redwoods; they have a much shorter life expectancy. Plenty of research has been done on individual tree species and each forest type to determine sustainable management techniques allowing harvesting to mimic natural processes. This process allows us to “steer” Mother Nature – and at the same provide optimum harvest value for a particular tree species without undue harm to ecological resources. Also, keep in mind the size of the tree doesn’t always equate to the age of the tree.
If we don’t cut any trees and let Mother Nature take its course, we’re actually doing more harm than good. It’s in the best interest of loggers and foresters to manage forests with the future in mind; if they don’t they put themselves out of business.
Myth #2: It’s environmentally-friendly to use less paper.
Truth: Think about a going into a restroom and seeing a hand-dryer claiming to be more environmentally friendly than a paper towel. Is that energy source more renewable than trees? Think about the energy used to power your computer and email – is that energy – more renewable than bio-mass?
Myth #3: Logging harms the forest and the surrounding environment:
Trees don’t grow back
Forestry is bad for wildlife
Logging harms water and air quality
People can’t use land once it’s been logged
Chipping and/or grinding tree tops for biomass is bad because the soil loses nutrients that would be left from the treetops otherwise
Truth: Trees are a renewable resource. This means they can regenerate on their own or be replanted, within a relatively short period of time. Planting trees is a management technique used when appropriate, but note that harvesting – either through a select cut or a clear cut – is encouraging a certain forest type to regenerate on its own. Learn more about forest management techniques.
Logging, a type of forest management, creates habitat and vegetation for wildlife. It helps maintain biological diversity through maintaining different forest cover types.
Plus, forestry activities are directly tied to many of the recreational opportunities that all of us enjoy. For example, healthy forest management creates and maintains healthy habitat for a variety of wildlife for hunters and fishermen. Access to hiking, biking, skiing, ATV/UTV, and snowmobile trails is directly related to forest management, too. Most trails are created by skidder trails and maintained through ongoing forest management (i.e.: select cuts)
Myth#4: It’s a logger’s job to cut down every tree they see.
Truth: Today loggers are professional businessmen and women. Many of today’s loggers operate high-tech, multi-million dollar equipment that has been specifically designed to efficiently harvest trees with minimum environmental impact. Their machines are their office; their business is – in many cases – a family business. It’s in the best interest of loggers to manage forests with the future in mind. 1) They live and recreate in the areas they are logging, and 2) proper management ensures that forests will be a continued source of work for them.
The Great Lakes Timber Professionals Association (GLTPA) is a non-profit organization committed to protecting a multiple-use forest for future generations through advocacy, professionalism, service to members, education and training. For over 70 years, GLTPA has represented members in Wisconsin and Michigan including loggers, truckers, sawmills, paper manufacturers, private and commercial forest landowners, forestry professionals and outdoor recreational enthusiasts. For more information, visit www.gltpa.org .