Climate, History Affect Logging Recovery

HOUGHTON, Mich., Dec. 8 (UPI) — U.S. researchers said they have determined climate and restoration efforts can affect how forests recover from logging.

Michigan Technological University Associate Professor Christopher Webster and Purdue University Assistant Professor Michael Jenkins said they studied a Smoky Mountains area that had been heavily logged nearly 80 years ago. They said they found the distribution of trillium plants, a perennial wildflower on the forest floor of the formerly logged area, was similar to that of areas that had never been logged.

Jenkins and Webster said that finding differs from that of researchers of a post-logging Oregon forest, where trillium failed to recover.

The scientists say they found differences between the Smoky Mountain and Oregon forests in the amount of rainfall, and in post-logging restoration efforts. Total summer rainfall was 20 inches at the Smoky Mountain site, but only about three inches in the Oregon forest. In addition, at the end of logging operations the Oregon site was burned and replanted, but the Smoky Mountain site was not treated.

“There’s still a lot of controversy about the effects of logging,” said Jenkins. “There is an effect on a forest, but there is also recovery as we’ve seen.”

The research appears in the journal Forest Ecology and Management.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

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