Can the Alaska logging industry survive while only logging second-growth forests? An Oregon research group says it can. And it could happen sooner than many expect.
An organization called the Geos Institute just released a study based on new Forest Service data. It takes a look at acreage regrowing after earlier logging. It concludes the Tongass National Forest has enough second-growth stands, also called young growth, to provide a steady supply of marketable timber.
Dominick DellaSala is president and chief scientist for Geos. The Ashland, Oregon,-based group advocates protecting older forests to reduce climate change.
“The faster we can get the Forest Service to move out of old-grown logging, the better it will be, because the Tongass is such a global resource. And that would help with subsistence values and fisheries and the tourism that takes place on the Tongass,” DellaSala says.
The study, researched by Corvallis, Oregon-based Mater Limited, says trees can be harvested at the age of 55. Forest Service policy considers trees mature and ready to log at about 90. DellaSala says that change, plus a few others, means the Tongass could switch to cutting second-growth trees within five years.