Does clear-cut logging reduce the risk of a forest fire?

December 2, 2018

The New York Times published this interactive article about California Wildfire Forest Management in November 2018. It was featured on their home page.

It is an interesting read.


The authors suggest that prescribed burning and vegetation thinning are the best solutions to reducing the risk of fires.

Gov. Jerry Brown has directed state offices to double the number of acres being managed with prescribed burns and vegetation thinning to 500,000 acres from 250,000 acres.

"Forests across California have also grown much denser over the past 70 years, partly due to less frequent fires, but also because large, old trees have been harvested by loggers. In their place are numerous young, small trees of species that can tolerate the shade from thicker canopies and are easier to burn because of their thinner bark and slimmer trunks."

"Decreasing the amount of fuel available to wildfires requires a combination of practices that remove vegetation, like prescribed fires and the selective removal of smaller trees and mulching."

Stephen Pyne, an environmental historian who studies fire, emphasized that logging would not keep wildfires at bay.

“Logging takes the big trunks and leaves the small stuff because there’s no market for it,” he said. “Fire burns the little and leaves the big.”

This article is designed to pose questions and spark debate, not to provide answers. This article is based on online research, talking with experts and visual observation. Please use the online form below if you believe there is more to this story than we are aware of.

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District of North Cowichan, Vancouver Island BC