Sunday, September 16, 2007

Thinning trees helps environment

Ventura County Star, editorial by Bill Dennison: …It is…important for Californians to know that properly managed forests can help minimize carbon-dioxide emissions and, conversely, that poorly managed forests contribute massive amounts of greenhouse gas into our air.

[P]oorly managed forests fuel …monster fires — the ones that spew a hundred thousand tons of greenhouse gases into the air in a matter of a few days.

…[I]n 2006, wildfires in the United States burned nearly 10 million acres. It's estimated that more carbon dioxide was released into the air than the yearly emissions of every car in California combined. It's the younger forests, properly thinned and harvested as part of a scientific management approach, that have a double benefit on curbing greenhouse gas emissions.

First, managed forests reduce the severity of wildfire because excess trees and other bio-mass material are removed, making the forest less dense and less prone to catastrophic wildfire.

Second, by harvesting older trees and planting new ones, which absorb carbon at a faster rate, managed forests lock away carbon permanently in wood products instead of carbon being spewed into the air during wildfires. In fact, half of every pound of wood is pure carbon.

…For the past 30 years, the public has been making emotional choices not to harvest trees based on outcry from environmental groups to "preserve" our forests. Millions of acres have been locked up in a variety of designations — Wilderness, National Monuments, Roadless Areas and National Parks, to name a few. And, all in the name of preserving the environment. But the real costs of leaving our forests unmanaged are more catastrophic wildfires and greater greenhouse emissions into our atmosphere…

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