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Clearcutting Is clearcutting always a bad technique? Moore (1995) offers some surprising comments about this practice.

The single biggest environmental reason for clearcutting has to do with the ability or inability of different tree species to tolerate shade. Many species of trees simply will not germinate and grow in the shade of other trees, even when the other trees are of the same species. This is a common characteristic of pioneer tree species that are particularly adapted to growing in areas that have been repeatedly clearcut. In British Columbia about 60 percent of all forests are composed of species that are shade intolerant to one degree or another. Tree species are not categorically either shade tolerant or shade intolerant. Rather, they display a continuum of shade tolerance from very intolerant to very tolerant with many species in between. Some species, such as Douglas-fir, are shade intolerant in the wetter part of their range and yet are shade tolerant in drier regions. (p. 87) Terra Bella Publishers Canada Inc.

Image showing a clearcut.In all this debate (on the use of clearcutting) one thing has become clear, it is not clearcuts per se that are the problem but how, when, and where they are created. It is easy, through sloppy procedures, to make clearcuts that cause soil erosion, damage salmon streams, and reduce wildlife habitat. It is equally possible, given adequate knowledge, to design clearcuts that protect soil, enhance salmon streams, and increase wildlife habitat. These are not simple formulas that can be communicated in 30-second news clips. An understanding of the place of clearcutting in modern forestry requires a great deal of knowledge and judgment. Emotionally charged presentations relying on photographs of messy landscapes are not adequate for deciding on whether or not it is the correct method of tree harvesting and forest renewal. ( p. 91) Terra Bella Publishers Canada Inc. Photo: Courtesy of Dr. David L. Adams, Professor of Forest Resources, University of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho.

Ecosystem Management Debate involving the preservation of one species or another is a frequent topic covered by the media. The controversy surrounding the Northern Spotted Owl, for example, is legendary. A recent important development in conservation strategy has been the broadening of the notion of management to include an entire ecosystem--in addition to managing selected species it supports. For example, in addition to individually managing certain trees, fish, or birds in a forest, ecosystem-based management looks at what the authors below call the "integrity" of the entire forest system. In the case of the temperate rainforest, this concept proposes the management of the forest as an ecosystem.

This idea is extended to the management of rare or endangered species within the context of the entire ecosystem:

Ecosystem management provides a context for ecosystem-focused as well as species-focused conservation. Traditional approaches to conservation have focused on species or populations of particular interest. Four key problems with the species-based approach have emerged:

Species cannot be maintained in situ without their habitat or the ecosystems that provide it.

Species-specific plans are too expensive, time-consuming, and labor-intensive to implement for more than a very small fraction of the species known to inhabit temperate rain forests.

The vast majority of species in temperate rain forests are little known, as are their ecological relationships.

Because many species have conflicting needs, a management regime designed for one species is likely to have negative impacts on others.

If our objective is to preserve biological diversity, adopting a conservation strategy that places more emphasis on ecosystems and landscapes is the only feasible approach (Franklin, 1993c). (Lertzman, Spies, & Swanson, 1997, pp. 361-382). "Granted with permission from The Rain Forests of Home, P.K. Schoonmaker, B. von Hagen, and E.C. Wolf, Ecotrust, 1997. Published by Island Press, Washington DC and Covelo, CA. For more information, contact Island Press directly at 1-800-828-1302, (E-mail), or (Website)."

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