Clearcut near study area. Clearcuts make it easy to put up bark beetle traps and especially my rotating traps since there are no trees, also moose love to eat the young trees. However, the biodiversity of plants and animals can be adversely affected - at least the types of plants and animals are different between the deep forest and the clearcut. Some degree of perturbation or habitat disruption (such as a "checkerboard" of clearcuts and forest) does increase biodiversity so it should be good to have small clearcuts surrounded by forests of several ages, but not really large clearcuts of several hectares or acres. In my opinion, certainly not a square kilometer or half-mile square. The optimal size is debatable and depends on what you think is important. The forest companies would prefer quite large clearcuts since it is cheaper to cut a large area with equipment at one time. The conflict is between the forest company which wants to maximize wood production and profits and the general public which wants to enjoy a natural forest and look at as many different plants and animals as possible. Morally or ethically some people think that man does not have the right to drastically change the forest and turn it into a tree farm. The local public also wants the companies to be profitable to maintain employment but not to the detriment of the environment. Further away, such as in a big city, most people are not very concerned about the profits of the forest company (unless they have stocks) but simply want to protect the rights of animals and plants and to enjoy them when they visit them once in a great while. So my point is that there are many perspectives usually greatly influenced by human greed and self-interest (which is necessary for productivity and economic advancement). So there are many aspects to consider. The concensus or compromise of thoughts today may not be that of tomorrow. Only through the gathering of knowledge by collecting data from observations and experiments over many years can we begin to more intelligently and productively utilize our natural resourses.
Images © 1996 by John A. Byers, Chemical Ecology.