Challenges in the Forestry Industry
The forest industry is a particularly important contributor to national economies. It provides a wide variety of products, including building materials, food, fuel, medicines, and raw materials for further processing.
Forests also help support agriculture by reducing wind speed, thus protecting crops and water sources. Trees also help stabilise soil conditions and regulate water flow, not to mention provide shelter for natural pollinators and predators of agricultural pests. Ultimately, all of these result in enhanced yields.
Due to environmental changes and the effects of modernisation, however, the forest industry continues to experience constant challenges. Thankfully, many of these can be addressed through forestry management and the correct application of technology.
What Are Some of the Common Challenges In Forestry?
Some of the most common challenges that the forestry industry face nowadays include the following:
Shortage of talent
Forestry is a viable career path but it unfortunately doesn’t attract as many professionals compared to other industries. The good thing is that those who are interested have accessible resources, such as forestry training programmes. Should they make the cut, these individuals are assured of a stable, lucrative, and fulfilling job.
Expensive construction of logging roads
Logging roads are designed and built differently from city roads, which means they cost more time and money to build. This is especially true for logging roads that are built on a slope. However, they are an unavoidable expense if the goal is to make harvesting and transporting trees easier.
Still about logging roads, the best structure should be something wide enough to accommodate trucks to ensure safety. The problem is that not all areas near forests are not always big enough. Moreover, in general, roads shouldn’t take every available space because there are other structures that need to be built and areas that need to be preserved.
Variations of tree species
Depending on the location, the species of trees in a forest may vary. Some investors will undoubtedly prefer areas with higher-value trees, which can result in underdevelopment of other forests.
Some trees are also more difficult to harvest. For example, wetland areas may have swampy or waterlogged terrain that can pose difficulties in harvesting and transporting the timber.
Other concerns that trouble the forestry industry include the proliferation of invasive species, forests that encroach on private land, fire management, soil conservation, and resource management management. Of course, there are also the problems caused by deforestation and climate change.
Forest Management Techniques That Help Address Forestry Challenges
The best forest management techniques combine conservation and economics. The ultimate goal is to stock forests with healthy, high-quality trees; create forests that are more resilient against fire, pests, and other hazards; and a healthier, pleasant ecosystem that attracts both wildlife and tourists.
Before implementing any measure, however, take note that forest management techniques aren’t cookie cutter solutions. Each plan should be developed according to each forest’s unique characteristics for the best results. Moreover, management plans should be regularly updated to accommodate changes in the environment, climate, and people.
That said, some of the most common solutions for forest management include:
- Pruning involves removing the lower branches of the tree to prevent the growth of knots on the trunk. This will result in smoother, higher-quality logs. Do note that arborists will always advise against pruning trees with large branches, since these will take too long to heal to actually have any benefits.
- Thinning is performed on stands that are 25 years or older and consists of trees of at least 8 inches in diameter. This helps release the better trees, so you can grow and harvest more in the future. The “released” trees can be used for a variety of purposes, such as for firewood.
- Crop Tree Thinning. For stands with trees that are at least 15 years old or with crop trees more than 25 feet tall, crop tree thinning is the better option. This is so that the crowns of the crop trees have more space to grow Ideally, up to 50 crop trees every 2 hectares should be marked for release.
It’s also a good idea to improve the forest to make it more suitable for wildlife habitat. There are plenty of advantages to be gained here, particularly the health of the soil and guaranteed pollination.
Impacts of Deforestation and Climate Change to the Industry
As mentioned, deforestation and climate change has devastating effects on the forest industry. In particular, deforestation can lead to the extinction of tree species. This can then lead to the extinction of animals who depend on those specific tree species for food and habitat.
In turn, deforestation can lead to reduced agricultural yield. This is because, without tree cover, the soil can be exposed to extreme temperatures, as well as eroded by wind and rain. In turn, this will result in the soil’s unsuitability for planting crops.
Deforestation can also affect the healthy regrowth of trees. More often than not, illegal logging activities don’t regard which trees are felled and harvested. This means that healthy trees might be cut down and sick ones left standing. The sickness can spread across the forest, further contributing to deforestation.
Climate change, meanwhile, can result in more frequent wildfires and stronger storms. It can also encourage the arrival of invasive species and insect outbreaks, affecting the entire ecosystem.
There’s no denying how important trees are to humans. It’s a part of every aspect of our lives, be it our individual health or the global economy. As such, it’s only logical to find the best way to harvest trees while protecting forests. There may be challenges along the way, but overcoming them will definitely be well worth the effort.