Commercial Logging Found To Be More Harmful Than Wildfires

Although it’s painful to see acres of mature trees go up in smoke during a wildfire, the damaged caused by the flames is nothing compared to what is caused by the logging practices of the past.

According to a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, practices associated with the logging industry have done more to damage the health of America’s forests over time than periodic episodes of widespread fire.

Researchers from the University of Oregon spent time analyzing 2,000 years worth of charcoal, pollen, and sediment samples taken from areas around Upper Squaw Lake in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest of southern Oregon.

Instead of simply inspecting tree-ring records, which is the most common way of examining environmental pressures in a forest over time, the researchers analyzed 30-foot-deep cores taken from deep in the soil bed.

What they found was that “while logging practices have improved dramatically since then, damaged landscape—the removal of low vegetation that helps to protect hillsides during fires and rain—continues to pose a threat into the foreseeable future” (

Postdoctoral doctoral researcher Daniele Colombaroli told Futurity that the legacy of mid-century logging may be more of a concern than severe fires.

Fire is known now to be a natural component of the ecosystem, but it is not clear whether forests are able to quickly recover after intense fire if logging practices altered the natural dynamics of the forest, and if the hazard of severe fire can be reduced by, for example, controlled burnings” she said.

This solidifies the position of many conservation advocates that “in watersheds where forests are degraded or destroyed, minimum flows decrease during the dry season, leading to drought, while peak floods and soil erosion increase during the wet season” (Forest Monitor). This leads to an overall imbalance that impacts the strength of the trees and the wider biodiversity of the forest as an ecosystem.

Currently even Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) certified logging companies are permitted to disrupt the soil through clear-cutting and the construction of logging roads and other operations that harm water quality.

TAKE ACTION: Send a holiday card asking President Obama to preserve our national forests, protecting all creatures great and small!

Image Credit: Flickr - McD22


Janine H.
Janine H.5 years ago

Trees and other plants are very important. A world without them and without animals is it that what we want? Hopefully not. In my case, i love trees, plants and animals.
Other animals and plants have to go only because "we" humans do not want to share the world with other life forms, these life forms "we" would not eat (vegetarian food is not a bad idea, or eating with conscience as the so called primitive cultures did and still do, if they still exist. No meat/fish every day). "We" destroy everything around us and "we" forget, that everything is important to survive, too.

As little child i thought that rain is when God and the angels cry - because "we" humans have forgotten that we need this "intelligence", someone who could help... if "we" hadn't turned away for many centuries ago...

"Only when the last tree has been cut down; Only when the last river has been poisoned; Only when the last fish has been caught; Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten." (Native American proverb)

"We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not yet learned the simple art of living together as brothers." (Martin Luther King)

Jami Winn
Jami Winn5 years ago

ive only seen one but the trees were rotten and falling over some fell over on a couple of our neighbors cows so they had good reason because the trees were already dead even before the fire was started

Anna G.
Anna G.5 years ago


Anna G.
Anna G.5 years ago


Sundeep Shah
Sundeep Shah5 years ago


Olivia C.
Olivia C.L5 years ago

Thank you Robin!! Your words were so wonderful!
We love animals, so we need trees to give them a place to live.

Rhona LaBruzzo
Rhona LaBruzzo5 years ago

I worry about the birds and animals that live in the forest.

tom Booth
tom Booth5 years ago

fires are natural

Karen B.
Karen B.5 years ago

Forests can handle fires just fine...they recover in no time, NATURALLY. Logging is violates the forest, leaving an unnatural mess for Mother Nature to clean up. Unfortunately, the logging is much more damaging. . .disturbing plant life and roots, etc. Hello? Duh. . .fire = good; people logging = DEVASTATING! We need to stop cutting down our precious trees and start planting and harvesting bamboo and hemp. The same products can be made and save our forests.

Lenora S.
Lenora Southwood5 years ago

thanks for the article and also to Robin T for his beautiful words.