Good forest management creates healthy habitats and forests
Forest landowners enhance wildlife habitat and forest health with management activities
Forest landowners use forest management techniques to maintain, enhance and even create habitat for birds, mammals and amphibians while still managing lands for timber production. Idaho’s forest products companies strive to use the best available science to protect wildlife habitat, water, soil and air quality. Many private forest businesses conduct ongoing fish and wildlife research as well as road and stream enhancement projects.
Forest managers are very careful about wildlife and other forest resources. Timber harvests are planned around sensitive mating and calving times. Forest managers also work with Idaho Fish and Game officials to enhance and protect fish and wildlife habitat.
Wildlife As Forest Managers
Many forest owners value wildlife for their own sake, but even where management focus is primarily on timber, wildlife can contribute to those objectives. For example, owls that use snags left on a site will prey on pocket gophers – a chief nemesis of tree planters everywhere. By leaving several large dead trees per acre, a woodland owner can attract an army of insect-eating critters that work for him. Studies have shown that large populations of forest birds significantly reduce insect problems. The more woodpeckers a forester encourages the less trouble she will have with bark beetles.
Special rules and laws to protect water quality require that stands of trees along the banks of creeks and streams remain as streamside buffer areas. These areas help protect fish spawning beds, keep the water cool, and provide cover and habitat for birds and wildlife. Forest managers pay special attention to riparian habitat along streams, which are managed to keep water cool and reduce sediment to enhance salmon and steelhead habitat.
Thinning and Harvesting To Improve Forest Health
Where species and sites allow, older, diseased and insect-prone trees are removed to give younger, stronger trees room to grow. In many cases, this improves wildlife habitat, too. Treating the forest by thinning, harvesting, replanting with a stringer, disease-resistant trees, and managing fuels can all help keep a forest alive and healthy. Thinning and harvesting creates openings in the forest that promote the growth of food sources for wildlife, create habitat for deer and songbirds and encourage tree stand conditions favored by owls and other species.