Clear-cuts can be used as a forestry management tool

By Jim Griffith
Registered Forester #1616

As a forestry student, I visited Lake Winfield Scott in the Cooper’s Creek Wildlife Management Area for a week while working for the Institute of Natural Resources. Although climbing up and down that steep Tennessee Valley Divide almost did my body in the first days of the trip, the week felt like a vacation as I experienced the beautiful Appalachian Mountains.

It was during this internship that I saw my first expansive clear-cut or what in my youthful, impressionable and uneducated mindset I thought was an expansive clear-cut. It looked to me like half the known world had been deprived of all living vegetation although it was only 40 acres. I was sure it must be some sort of war zone that had been kept secret from the civilian public.

During the last 25 years, I have learned the difference in good forest management and what I once thought was irresponsible destruction. The fact is, clear-cutting can be a very good means of management, and a 40-acre harvest is not an environmental disaster.

Some time ago, my brother purchased 40 acres of natural, timbered woodland intersected with clear, rocky streams, adjoining his property. The tract was absolutely gorgeous from a naturalist’s and forester’s point of view, but in order to finance the property, he chose to sell the timber to help pay for the purchase. Even as an experienced forester, I was a bit disheartened by the sight of the totally cleared land.

However, the land was not left to itself for long. The square block of land was fingered with streams and buffers that provided good wildlife management and improved aesthetics. The land was replanted, and now when you look out over this property you see his grandson watching a tranquil lake in a pasture peppered with black Angus and a maturing new forest in the backdrop. In its transformation, the land is just as environmentally sound and appealing as it was before. The land is also now worth way more than it ever was before, and a clear cut was the tool used to make it all happen.

Trees are America’s renewable resource. We live in a dynamic world that is always changing, even if we choose not to clear-cut. Trees are a biological entity, they grow old, and then they die.

Chuck Leavell, Rolling Stones keyboardist and 1999 National Outstanding Tree Farmer, recently spoke to a group of elementary students in Bibb County for Earth Day and National Arbor Day. Leavell, who is a Georgia Farm Bureau member, has authored two books on conservation and his tree farming experience and a children’s book titled, The Tree Farmer. In covering the event, The Macon Telegraph quoted Leavell as saying one common misconception is that trees shouldn’t be cut down. “Trees are renewable. They’re organic. We can use them again and again throughout the years.”

You can manage this process of change and generate a profit from your asset at the same time. There are lots of management tools available to make your change in a favorable manner. A professional forester is trained to help you attain from your land and timber what your mind visualizes. It is his job to meet your management goals while building your bank account at the same time through higher profits from your land or timber sales.

Jim Griffith is the general manager of the GFB Timber & Real Estate Cos.
Georgia Farm Bureau News – May 2007

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