Some logging operations are made “sustainable” through careful selection of trees to be cut down and removing them by helicopter, rather than cutting a transportation road through the forest. There is much debate over what “sustainable” actually mean in regard to forestry, however. Some supposedly eco-friendly operations, such as this one, turn out to be doing more harm than good. In other cases, experts argue that practices that look destructive, such as the clearing of an entire forest, can actually be used to mimic natural events and may actually be environmentally responsible (see second link below).
There are many best management practices (BMPs) for sustainable forestry. Protecting the soil from erosion by use of helicopters, hay bales or other methods is important. So is protecting watersheds, providing areas of habitat for wildlife in the forest, and wise use of roads. Sustainable forests may be clear cut or selectively cut, depending on the species. As ajmosko said, lodgepole pine naturally experience “stand replacing” wildifires. Clear cutting the forest and then on-site burning of the slash can replicate this process (the trees seeds need the heat from the fire to germinate).
There are a few organizations that certify wood as coming from forests managed using sustainable practices; Sustainable Forestry Initiative is one.
I suppose that loggers could plant trees to offset the trees that were cut down….sort of. A small tree would obviously have a different effect on the environment than a huge tree that was just cut down…but it’s something.
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