Monday, January 12, 2015

Shorter Winters Present Challenges for Loggers

Climate change and it’s impact on forests is most certainly a hot topic these days with questions such as; How is climate change impacting our forests? What species will grow in a certain area? How fast will forests change, etc.  However, new research has revealed that loggers, not just foresters and forests, are having to adapt and change the way they operate in the wake of climate change.  And, unfortunately, our entire industry might suffer.

The study, published in the current issue of the Journal of Environmental Management, found the period of frozen ground has declined by an average of two or three weeks since 1948. Logging trucks and skidders have a harder time accessing forests with wet, unfrozen soil - and can leave their marks along the way. During that time wood harvests have shifted, in years with more variability in freezing and thawing, to red pine and jack pine -- species that grow in sandy, well-drained soil that can support trucks and heavy equipment when not frozen.

Stable, frozen ground has long been recognized as a logger's friend, capable of supporting equipment and trucks on saturated forest soils. A comprehensive look at the weather by scientists from the University of Wisconsin-Madison from 1948 onward has shown that the logger's friend is melting.

This may also be an issue in Pennsylvania. I recently oversaw the harvest of a stand of timber Penn State owns. It is obvious the window when logging can occur during dry or frozen conditions is very short. Is this what others are seeing? Is this the result of climate change or have we been dealing with these issues for years/decades?

Click here to read the full story published in Science Daily.

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