Keeping Forest Communities Healthy

By Dave Hanks

The maintaining of forest community health involves good foresting practices. These fit around the harvesting and reforesting of the resource. While clear-cutting is the most efficient harvesting method, it can either be beneficial or detrimental depending on the size of the cut. If the cutout area is 25 acres or less, it can produce edges that bring forth herbs and grasses for animals to forage upon. The leaving of a few trees to produce seed for rejuvenation is preferable.

Selective cutting, though less efficient, is better for forest health. Variety in both species and individual ages is needed. It’s good to have “baby trees”, “teenage trees”, mature trees, “grandma trees” and at least two snags (dead trees) per acre. Thus all facets of woodland life are facilitated.

Dead trees are important for woodpeckers to evacuate nest cavities for themselves and ultimately the use of their old holes by other species. The photo is of a LADDER-BACKED WOODPECKER. These birds nest in cavities in tree trunks, and if in the desert, they will also nest in holes drilled in large cacti. Two to seven white eggs are laid, and both sexes share in their incubation. Ladder-backs primarily eat insects, such as wood-boring beetle larvae, caterpillars, and ants. They may, on occasion, eat fruit. This wood-boring species is 6 ˝ to 7 ˝ inches and primarily colored black and white, with a barred pattern on the back that resembles the rungs of a ladder.

When all is said and done to keep forests healthy, consideration of people needs must enter in the equation. It is possible for the two sides to work to reach a reasonable compromise.

(Picoides scalaris in position to drill)