We are currently experiencing a global resurgence in wood production, and as biomass derived from forest residues continues to become more popular as an alternative and renewable source of energy, questions regarding forest sustainability and land management inevitably become the focus of many discussions. And rightfully so. While a forest is so much more than its available timber, an important—and often overlooked—aspect of responsible forest stewardship concerns maintaining overall land quality.
As the science has repeatedly demonstrated, when managed properly, forest resources offer tremendous economic, social and environmental benefits. But in productive, heavily-forested areas, does the land itself suffer long-term due to repeated tree removals? Do the land’s soil nutrients demonstrate any measurable decline?
An extensive 2005 paper by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) titled, Effects of Logging Residue Removal on Forest Sites, notes that nutrient budgets on forest sites are cyclical based upon harvesting practices, and these nutrients exist in three primary forms.