[permaculture] questioning Douglas-fir thinning

Rain Tenaqiya raincascadia at yahoo.com
Sun Mar 9 13:25:27 EDT 2008

Permaculturists on the West Coast, and probably elsewhere, often recommend thinning young Douglas-fir forests which have dense growth due to clear-cutting and fire-suppression.  Thinning the forests out reduces fire danger, speeds up succession, improves the growth and characteristics of the remaining trees, reduces disease, and provides extremely useful building materials and fuel.  This is how I got the poles for my home.  However, thinning also destroys habitat for certain species.
  Long-eared owls, barn owls, and probably dusky grouse and other species, need dense forest for roosting and breeding.  This complicates our desire to thin out these areas for fire prevention and speeding up succession and demonstrates how difficult wise land management can be.  In a wild ecosystem, dense new growth would be part of the forest patches in the forest mosaic, occurring after fire or other disturbances.  I would recommend leaving some significant patches of dense forest where they do not pose a fire risk to nearby homes.  It is important to not get puritanical around any practice and to always leave some areas totally undisturbed.

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