Since When is an Early Death “Healthy”?

This letter appeared in the Oct 31- Nov. 6 issue of the Indianapolis Business Journal. ?Help us spread the word about the unprecedented increase in commercial logging on our state forestland by signing and sharing this petition.

By: Jeff Stant, IFA Executive Director

Much of the Indianapolis Business Journal article, “Holcomb, Gregg disagree about how much to manage state forests” is devoted to the state’s assertion that its logging is good for the forests’ health.

Our hardwood forests have substantially longer growth cycles than current logging allows. ?White oak, tulip poplar, sugar maple and American beech have maximum life spans of 300 to 600 years and average life spans of 100 to 300 years.

The Division’s logging is allowing the oldest trees in our state forests to reach only 125 years before they are cut down, well before the average life span and far before the maximum life span of most of these trees.

In addition to depriving the forest of trunk cavities, standing snags, and large logs which are important habitat niches and sources for organic material, this removal truncates the symbiotic growth of “hypogenous” or subterranean fungi that occurs in the living roots of older trees and is very important for healthy forest regeneration.

Trees have been falling and letting sunlight reach the forest floor for thousands of years without our help. In one of the most widely read textbooks on forestry, The Practice of Silviculture:?Applied Forest Ecology, the authors state: “The most magnificent forests that are ever likely to develop were present before the dawn of civilization and grew without human assistance.”

Let’s be honest. The state is managing our state forests to produce merchantable timber, not to improve forest health.



Opening created by the natural ?life-cycle of trees in the Morgan-Monroe State Forest Back Country Area. (Photo by: Samantha Buran)