Updated: Jan 18, 2019
As I was driving back to Ole Miss with my friends we passed miles of beautiful forest and some cut over land that looked a mess. We are wondering why are the owners cutting the trees, why not leave it as it is? What is going to happen to all the birds and animals who live there, where will they go and what will happen to them? I know you are a Tree Farmer, what are your thoughts?
I am glad you had a safe trip back to school, AND that y’all are thinking about other things than just your studies! Great questions. There are many reasons that landowners harvest their trees: to meet expenses like taxes, insurances, illness, education or it may be the planned time for proper management. Trees are a crop, like corn, cotton or green beans! We tree farmers are fortunate enough to grow our crops for years and years, some timber rotations are 80 to 100 years! We don’t plow the land each year, fertilize or irrigate, so growing trees is a kind use of the land.
Because trees are a crop they must be managed, just like tomatoes or roses. They need to be thinned to have room to grow, protected from insects and fire, and loved and appreciated. When you see a clear cut harvest you may know that there was a plan and the farmer is harvesting his crop to start again with a healthy young forest.
The animals adapt to a harvest and most actually benefit from the new herbaceous growth that quickly appears where previously there had been a dark understory with very little tender vegetation for the critters. The local birds easily fly to adjoining forest and reenter the clearing to bug and eat seeds. Neo-tropical birds actually need open areas within the forest for their foraging and nesting during migration.
So when you see one of those “awful clearcuts”, look at it with new eyes and wait to see the young, healthy, vigorous, carbon storing forest that is in your future.
Study hard, stay safe and plant trees!