In relation to forest, which is formed by many very different organisms that depend on each other and make up the links of many food chains, it would seem difficult to say whether it is healthy or not. However, it is not that difficult. Even the words “healthy forest” spoken aloud evoke in us the image of peaked trees, with a green crown, numerous bright leaves, needles, flowers and fruits. On the contrary, a large forest may appear pale, dark, monotonous, or too thin as a result of a concerning forest practice. These are emotions, but there are also physically measurable signs. Traditional signs are detected visually using a manual measuring tool. As a rule, they come down to estimates of two main parameters of the state of the biocenosis: biological diversity, and the balance of mortality and birth rate of biological species. So, how do we maintain these parameters to keep the forest healthy or Improving Forest Health?
Forest Improvement Practices
Here are some of the most effective and used forest health enhancement practices out there.
Unfortunately, in most cases, only the first stage of the reforestation process is carried out – tree planting. However, without clearing in young stands, such planted forests usually die, and the original goals of forest restoration are not achieved. On the other hand, such plantings can help preserve or restore valuable ecosystems. But the approach to forest restoration should be thoughtful: from the choice of territory and type of trees to thinning in the young ones. To help build that approach effectively, forestry experts can use modern forest management software like Forestry Monitoring.
Planning of tree planting should include the extent of land degradation, economic, and environmental benefits, and how these benefits will be shared among stakeholders. A long-term perspective is required as it takes many years to benefit from tree planting. Forestry experts also need to pay attention to how tree planting can support native plant and animal species. It is better to choose those types of trees that grow in the area where you plan to plant them. Tree planting has multiple benefits – carbon sequestration, economic value, biodiversity support. However, there are factors that affect viability, such as marketing, alternative uses of land for production, and long-term conservation of planted trees. Local residents should also be involved in planning and implementation.
Felling is a form of forest care that implies removing unwanted trees from the plantation (which do not meet economic goals and negatively affect the growth and condition of the best and auxiliary trees) and create favorable conditions for the growth of the best trees of the main species, aimed at the formation of highly productive high-quality plantations and timely use wood.
Maintenance felling increases the useful functions of the forest, making it possible to systematically obtain additional wood. In the process of forest growth, many trees die off, and the task of thinning is not to let them disappear, and, at the same time, create better conditions for the formation of the remaining ones.
Prescribed Burns – Improving Forest Health
Many people don’t realize that fire is a natural part of the forest’s life cycle. From time to time, other plants can grow in the forest and interfere with the growth of good trees. In this regard, it is difficult for animals to find food and habitats.
During prescribed burns, forestry experts keep a close eye on the fire and put it out when the unwanted plants are gone. They keep the fire under control so that it doesn’t burn the good trees. Thus, controlled burns can prevent future fires. During the next thunderstorm, lightning may strike, but if there is no accumulated undergrowth, a wildfire will never spread rapidly.
Targeted burns can also save trees from disease and insect infestation. Invasive plant species sometimes clog native trees. Therefore, fires can eliminate the diseases and insects that are found there, and thus improve the general condition of trees in the forest.
Wood Waste Control- Improving Forest Health
When harvesting wood, up to 4th part of biomass remains in the forest alone. During further processing of roundwood, waste is also inevitably formed in the form of sawdust, shavings, cuts, and slabs. Consequently, when processing such a valuable natural raw material as wood, half of its volume is used in an unqualified manner. Currently, there are many ways to dispose of wood waste. Depending on the planned final result of processing, it depends on how exactly the disposal will be carried out: biological, chemical, mechanical-chemical, or mechanical. The simplest way to process wood waste is the biological method. The final product of such processing is compost, a valuable fertilizer rich in humus.
Health Benefits From Forests
Trees create vital oases of shade on the ground. Urban trees help buildings stay cool by reducing the need for electric fans or air conditioners, while large forests perform complex tasks, such as containing the city’s “heat island” effect or regulating local temperatures.
Besides, people receive numerous health benefits from just walking in a forest. The main benefits of a forest walk are:
- Obtaining oxygenated air, which stimulates blood circulation, improves appetite, and increases brain activity
- Walking through the forest can be equated to physical activity. Walking for a long time is in no way inferior to running in healing the body.
Today, forest protection is one of the urgent global problems. No matter how the public discusses this issue, it is still not possible to stop the massive deforestation. To save the forest, we must follow the above mentioned recommendations.