Researchers concerned about prey and predator species in post-fire logging areas
New research from UBC Okanagan shows that salvage logging on land damaged by wildfires has negative impacts on a variety of animals.
While post-fire salvage logging is used to mitigate economic losses following wildfire, Karen Hodges, a biology professor in the Irving K. Barber Faculty of Science, says the compounded effects of wildfire and post-fire salvage logging are more severe than what wildlife experience from fire alone.
Wildfires have been increasing in prevalence and severity in recent decades, Hodges says, and salvaging trees after a fire is a common practice. However, the scale and intensity of post-fire logging removes important regenerating habitat for a variety of forest species.
“When trees are removed from a newly burned landscape, birds and mammals lose the last remnants of habitat,” she adds. “Salvage logging decreases forest biodiversity and changes ecological processes of post-fire forest regeneration. Mosaics of regenerating forest are changed through the removal of standing and downed trees, which would naturally remain on the landscape following fire.”
Hodges notes while BC’s logging industry is heavily regulated, harvesting differs between normal harvests and post-fire logging. More frequent wildfires mean an increase in post-fire salvage logging.
“Salvage logging is often done urgently as harvesters attempt to get burned timber to market before the wood deteriorates,” she says. “Salvage logging is also done at larger scales and intensities than a standard harvest. This post-fire harvest means wildlife species that can manage after a wildfire do not rebound as quickly from this second disturbance.”