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A Literature Review on the Environmental Effects of Postfire Logging

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Literature on logging after wildfire is reviewed, with a focus on environmental effects of logging activity and the removal of large woody structure. As in unburned stands, log retrieval systems vary considerably in their immediate effect on soils in the postfire environment, with ground-based systems generally causing more disturbance than aerial systems. Timber harvest methods used by managers can mitigate erosion effects-for example, logging residue can decrease erosion by impeding overland flow. Ground disturbance from postfire logging can encourage establishment of different plant species (including nonnatives) and can influence the growth of trees. The removal of large woody structures typical in postfire logging operations can change plant species composition, reduce plant species richness, and increase conifer growth in the first years after logging, but can also reduce the probability that insect pest populations will build up and infest adjacent stands. Removal of large woody structures can cause declines in the abundance of several cavity-nesting bird species, including mountain bluebird, and black-backed, hairy, and three-toed woodpeckers; Lewis woodpecker tends to increase after postfire logging. Overall, studies on the environmental effects of postfire logging are limited, arguing for the use of adaptive management to monitor effects of logging and to adjust practices accordingly. West. J. Appl. For. 16(4):159-168.

Keywords: Postfire logging; down wood; environmental management; forest; forest management; forest resources; forestry; forestry research; forestry science; fuel; habitat structure; hydrology; natural resource management; natural resources; salvage harvest; sediment yield; wildfire; wildlife habitat

Document Type: Miscellaneous

Affiliations: Forestry and Range Sciences Laboratory, Pacific Northwest Research Station, 1401 Gekeler Lane, La Grande, OR, 97850

Publication date: October 1, 2001

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  • Each regional journal of applied forestry focuses on research, practice, and techniques targeted to foresters and allied professionals in specific regions of the United States and Canada. The Western Journal of Applied Forestry covers the western United States, including Alaska, and western Canada; WJAF will also consider manuscripts reporting research in northern Mexico that has potential application in the southwestern United States.
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