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Scientists Discover that Cutting Trees Can Save the Earth’s Forest From Excessive Drought and Heat

The Cutting of Trees Early Can Save Forests From Excessive Drought and Heat

Among the places that are badly affected by the heat are forests. There are places that include the American West where hotter climate and drought imply that trees have less water. Sometimes, they shrivel woodlands. Growing trees use carbon dioxide from the air for making their food and storing it in leaves, trunks, and roots. However, when the trees get excessively crowded, they contest for getting light and water. The trees get stressed and are more vulnerable to drought and attacks of insects. Scientists have discovered that forests can have tougher trees capable of enduring climate change if they’re thinned early on. Moreover, such thinned forests are as good as dense forests in sucking carbon from the air. However, will this practice be able to save the earth’s forest? Scientists are apprehensive of the removal of trees reducing forest carbon storage.

For testing the viability of this climate trade-off scientists did long experimentation in northwestern Montana. The experiment was done on a young woodland of western larch in 1961. They separated the forest into two plots. They thinned the trees that were aged 8 years in some plot to 494/ hectare from tens of thousands. These trees went on to develop heavy trunks and expansive canopies. The trees in the other plots grew in stature and became skinny competing for sunlight. The scientists were curious to know the effect of tree density on carbon storage.

They gauged the stature, diameter, and breadth of branches for estimating the quantity of carbon stored. Calculation of the carbon present in further plants, lifeless wood, and woodland floor debris was also done. The overall carbon present in the experimented and experimented sections of the forest was almost the same. While the number of trees in the un-thinned section was more the bigger trees in the thinned section compensated for the lesser trees. Larson was amazed at the speed that the thinned forest grew. This was the perfect experiment was to test carbon storage.

There is a possibility of Climate change bringing more acute droughts in the West. This experiment is encouraging as regards whether the thinning of forests will be able to save forests. The reason is that large trees are better at enduring drought and they’ve thick bark that is more fire resistant. They’re also healthier and thus capable of fighting off ailment and insects.

Mark Harmon, the ex-ecologist of Oregon State University stated that the early thinning hold the key. This helps the remaining trees grow fast.

Working as a forester withMissoula Nature Conservancy, Michael Schaedel has done the thinning of young larch forests. However, he’s yet to understand the effect of the practice on the trees over the long run. He says that this practice would be excellent for woodlands that have been clear cut. The trees will recover faster.

Some concerns remain over the impact of thinning on other species. Snowshoe hares reside in the young western larch woodlands in Montana. Their thinning will possibly lessen the population of the hare and push the Canada lynx that prey on them to extinction. However, Larson is confident about the usefulness of thinning for tackling climate change.

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Amit Mukherjee

Amit Mukherjee is an author and the staff member of Nature Talkies.

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