Timber harvesting is a vital tool for forest management. When applied strategically and sustainably, timber harvesting can contribute to the health and safety of our forests, communities, and the environment for humans and wildlife.
Strategic harvesting protects biodiversity by helping provide and maintain the diverse habitats required for various plant and animal species to flourish.
Forests with a diversity of different aged stands of trees provide a variety of habitats, offering different types of food, space, and cover required by a wide range of species.
For example, young timber stands allow sunlight reach the forest floor, resulting in grasses and weeds that cannot grow in older, denser forests and provide food for various species. These areas are particularly important for Montana’s elk population.
“Elk thrive in young or disturbed forests, which, after a burn or thinning, have an abundance of new plant life budding from increased light on the forest floor. They eat many varieties of plants, from huckleberry, maple, and salmonberry to forbs and grasses, tree bark, and even twigs during the winter. But closed canopy forests are also important for cover and forage in late summer. Ideal elk habitat includes open forests and meadows, interspersed with closed-canopy forests.” – American Forest Foundation.
Timber harvesting also helps maintain healthy forests by preserving healthy, sustainable habitats for wildlife. By removing dead and diseased trees, we can stop the spread of damaging bacteria, fungi, and insect infestations.
Timber harvesting also preserves wildlife habitat by reducing the risk of catastrophic wildfires that destroy habitat. Thinning overgrown forests and removing dead and fallen trees reduces fuel for wildfires. Similarly, timber harvesting can provide forest access, fuel breaks, and other strategies to help firefighters battle wildfires and protect wildlife habitats.
Montana timber harvesters are dedicated stewards of our state’s forests. They are committed to responsible forest management practices to ensure generations of healthy forests for future Montanans, whether they have wings, scales, two legs, or four.