Historically, logging has been unpopular among environmentalists. When viewing pictures of the decimated Amazon rainforest, you cannot help but agree. However, the logging that most people see on social media is not necessarily a fair reflection of the industry. There are practices that preserve the environment and protect it from forest fires, while also being a viable economic investment for businesses. This column seeks to explain the difference between clearcutting and forest management logging, observing the current state of our forest management system, and then exploring the potential benefits the United States can see from adopting controlled logging practices.
There is a difference between controlled and uncontrolled logging. Uncontrolled logging, also known as clearcutting, is the decimation of forests. The environmental drawbacks to uncontrolled logging heavily outweigh the potential economic benefits. Controlled logging, also known as forest management logging, keeps ecosystems intact by not clearing out large swaths of land.
The most relevant debate about forest management is from the Pacific Northwest, with some critics arguing that management alone is not sufficient in preventing forest fires. In California, the federal government owns 58% of the 33 million acres of land. The figures are similar in Washington and Oregon: Washington only owns 12% of its forest land, while Oregon also has a small percentage. Since the federal government owns most of the land, they also hold the responsibility for its maintenance. Some experts criticize the federal government’s forest management, claiming they can do better.
Rather than have the federal government expand its forest management services, why not allow private logging companies to engage in forest management logging? The federal government would save taxpayer dollars while letting the private logging industry thrive. If the private sector takes over the public management of logging, the existing maintenance funding can be reallocated towards inspecting the companies, ensuring they are following the regulations and not over-logging.
One reason we should consider logging is the prevention of forest fires. By thinning out a forest and keeping the tree population controlled, the risk of fire reduces. Thinning out a forest prevents fires from spreading as quickly as they could if the forest was left untouched. In addition, more sunlight can reach the forest floor, encouraging the growth of other plants which could in turn benefit the wildlife. Engaging in some logging seems worth it when considering that entire forests and habitats can be preserved.
Another benefit of controlled logging is the potential economic growth it could create. If logging becomes a more significant industry in our economy, either thousands of jobs could be added directly within the companies or in potential government positions which would inspect and review the logging practices. The logging industry plays a major role in the economy by supplying timber resources to other sectors; a greater supply of timber could have a ripple effect, benefiting many areas of America’s economy. By transitioning to private logging companies, America would protect its beautiful forests while creating revenue and jobs for its citizens. Considering the alternative, unmaintained forests and potential wildfires, the choice seems clear.
By no means am I advocating for the destruction of the environment. What I am exploring is ultimately the protection of our environment, while helping bolster the economy and the average American worker.
Thanks for reading,