5/10/2014

Dead Wood Is Good Wood

A large diameter fallen tree along Upper Goldstream Trail in Goldstream Provincial Park. Over hundreds of
years the fallen Western red cedar will provide nutrients for the large Douglas fir behind it.


In the Pacific rainforest dead standing and fallen trees may make up more biomass than the living giants towering above the soil. If it weren't for these dead trees, and the decomposers that break them down, the forest would cease to exist.


According to renowned forester Chris Maser, ‘decaying wood serves as a savings account of soil organic materials and nutrients in forest ecosystems’. This is one reason landowners should not try to "clean up" forested areas. They need to be messy in order to function properly.


Sometimes messy old growth forests are deemed "decadent" to justify cutting them down. But you can't improve on the natural cycles of life and death.



Fallen large trees enhance fish habitat by providing shade and structure.
These downed trees are over the upper Goldstream River.


Dead wood is also a boon to forest wildlife.

In the words of forest scientist Charles Elton, "dying and dead wood provides one of the two or three greatest resources for animal species in a natural forest...if fallen timber and slightly decayed trees are removed the whole system is gravely impoverished of perhaps more than one fifth of its wildlife component".

The healthiest forest is an untouched forest, in all its messy, "decadent" glory.


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