Panel 9 – Forest Diversity for Wildlife
Diverse Forests for Diverse Wildlife
Nearly 180 different vertebrate wildlife species inhabit the pine forests of the White Mountains region, and every species has a distinct set of habitat needs for food, cover, water, and space. Thus, the greatest challenge to managers is to provide for a diverse assemblage of forest conditions, age classes, and arrangement across the landscape, collectively termed forest diversity, to meet all these species’ needs.
Thinning of the Past
As once done extensively, the easiest and most efficient way to thin dense forests is to evenly space the remaining trees, leaving trees that are of the same age. However, ponderosa pine historically grew in clumps, and such homogeneous forests lack the structural diversity when applied over large areas. Further, this treatment benefits relatively few wildlife species that use such open forest habitat.
A Better Way to Thin Our Forests
Managers now strive for a mix of forest conditions or mosaics, by applying different thinning treatments over large-scale landscape projects. Along with even-spaced thinning, some blocks are thinned to leave clumps of trees throughout, some patches are cut heavily to create small openings, and still other areas are only lightly thinned or even left uncut. Such diverse treatments create mosaics that help meet the diverse needs of wildlife.
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