Clearcutting, or clearfelling, is a controversial forestry
Forestry is the interdisciplinary profession embracing the science, art, and craft of creating, managing, using, and conserving forests and associated resources in a sustainable manner to meet desired goals, needs, and values for human benefit. Forestry is practiced in plantations and natural stands...

Logging is the cutting, skidding, on-site processing, and loading of trees or logs onto trucks.In forestry, the term logging is sometimes used in a narrow sense concerning the logistics of moving wood from the stump to somewhere outside the forest, usually a sawmill or a lumber yard...

 practice in which most or all tree
A tree is a perennial woody plant. It is most often defined as a woody plant that has many secondary branches supported clear of the ground on a single main stem or trunk with clear apical dominance. A minimum height specification at maturity is cited by some authors, varying from 3 m to...

s in an area are uniformly cut down. Clearcutting, along with shelterwood
Shelterwood cutting
Shelterwood cutting is a silvicultural system in which trees are removed in a series of cutsdesigned to achieve a new even-aged stand under the shelter of remaining trees....

 and seed tree harvests, is used by forester
250px|thumb|right|Foresters of [[Southern University of Chile|UACh]] in the [[Valdivian forest]]s of San Pablo de Tregua, ChileA forester is a person who practices forestry, the science, art, and profession of managing forests. Foresters engage in a broad range of activities including timber...

s to create certain types of forest ecosystems and to promote select species that require an abundance of sunlight or grow in large, even-age stands. Logging companies and forest-worker unions in some countries support the practice for scientific, safety, and economic reasons. Detractors see clearcutting as synonymous with deforestation
Deforestation is the removal of a forest or stand of trees where the land is thereafter converted to a nonforest use. Examples of deforestation include conversion of forestland to farms, ranches, or urban use....

, destroying natural habitats and contributing to climate change
Climate change
Climate change is a significant and lasting change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns over periods ranging from decades to millions of years. It may be a change in average weather conditions or the distribution of events around that average...



Many variations of clearcutting exist; the most common professional practices are:
  • Standard (uniform) clearcut – removal of every stem (whether commercially viable or not), so no canopy remains.
  • Patch clearcut – removal of all the stems in a limited, predetermined area (patch).
  • Strip clearcut – removal of all the stems in a row (strip), usually placed perpendicular to the prevailing winds
    Prevailing winds
    Prevailing winds are winds that blow predominantly from a single general direction over a particular point on Earth's surface. The dominant winds are the trends in direction of wind with the highest speed over a particular point on the Earth's surface. A region's prevailing and dominant winds...

     in order to minimize the possibility of windthrow
    In forestry, windthrow refers to trees uprooted or broken by wind. Breakage of the tree bole instead of uprooting is sometimes called windsnap.- Causes :...

  • Clearcutting-with-reserves – removal of the majority of standing stems save a few reserved for other purposes (for example as snag
    In forest ecology, a snag refers to a standing, partly or completely dead tree, often missing a top or most of the smaller branches. In freshwater ecology it refers to trees, branches, and other pieces of naturally occurring wood found sunken in rivers and streams; it is also known as coarse woody...

    s for wildlife
    Wildlife includes all non-domesticated plants, animals and other organisms. Domesticating wild plant and animal species for human benefit has occurred many times all over the planet, and has a major impact on the environment, both positive and negative....

    * Habitat , a place where a species lives and grows*Human habitat, a place where humans live, work or play** Space habitat, a space station intended as a permanent settlement...

    ), (often confused with the seed tree method).
  • Slash-and-burn – the permanent conversion
    Shifting cultivation
    Shifting cultivation is an agricultural system in which plots of land are cultivated temporarily, then abandoned. This system often involves clearing of a piece of land followed by several years of wood harvesting or farming, until the soil loses fertility...

     of tropical and subtropicals forests for agricultural purposes. This is most prevalent in tropical and subtropical forests in overpopulated
    Overpopulation is a condition where an organism's numbers exceed the carrying capacity of its habitat. The term often refers to the relationship between the human population and its environment, the Earth...

     regions in developing and least developed countries
    Least Developed Countries
    Least developed country is the name given to a country which, according to the United Nations, exhibits the lowest indicators of socioeconomic development, with the lowest Human Development Index ratings of all countries in the world...

    . Slash-and-burn entails the removal of all stems in a particular area. This is a form of deforestation
    Deforestation is the removal of a forest or stand of trees where the land is thereafter converted to a nonforest use. Examples of deforestation include conversion of forestland to farms, ranches, or urban use....

    , because the land is converted to other uses.

Clearcutting contrasts with selective cutting, such as high grading
High grading
The term high grading in forestry, fishing and mining relates to selectively harvesting goods, to “cut the best and leave the rest”. In mining, it can also be a term for theft.-Forestry:...

, in which only commercially valuable trees are harvested, leaving all others. This practice can reduce the genetic
Genetics , a discipline of biology, is the science of genes, heredity, and variation in living organisms....

 viability of the forest over time, resulting in poorer or less vigorous offspring
In biology, offspring is the product of reproduction, of a new organism produced by one or more parents.Collective offspring may be known as a brood or progeny in a more general way...

 in the stand. Clearcutting also differs from a coppicing
Coppicing is a traditional method of woodland management which takes advantage of the fact that many trees make new growth from the stump or roots if cut down. In a coppiced wood, young tree stems are repeatedly cut down to near ground level...

 system, by allowing revegetation
Revegetation is the process of replanting and rebuilding the soil of disturbed land. This may be a natural process produced by plant colonization and succession, or an artificial , accelerated process designed to repair damage to a landscape due to wildfire, mining, flood, or other cause...

 by seedling
thumb|Monocot and dicot seedlingsA seedling is a young plant sporophyte developing out of a plant embryo from a seed. Seedling development starts with germination of the seed. A typical young seedling consists of three main parts: the radicle , the hypocotyl , and the cotyledons...

s. Additionally, destructive forms of forest management
Forest management
200px|thumb|right|[[Sustainable development|Sustainable]] forest management carried out by [[Complejo Forestal y Maderero Panguipulli|Complejo Panguipulli]] has contributed to the preservation of the forested landscape around [[Neltume]], a sawmill town in Chile...

 are commonly referred to as 'clearcutting'.

Negative impacts

Clearcutting can have major negative impacts, both for humans and local flora and fauna. A study from the University of Oregon
University of Oregon
-Colleges and schools:The University of Oregon is organized into eight schools and colleges—six professional schools and colleges, an Arts and Sciences College and an Honors College.- School of Architecture and Allied Arts :...

 found that in certain zones, areas that were clear cut had nearly three times the amount of erosion
Erosion is when materials are removed from the surface and changed into something else. It only works by hydraulic actions and transport of solids in the natural environment, and leads to the deposition of these materials elsewhere...

 due to slides. When the roads required by the clearcutting were factored in, the increase in slide activity appeared to be about 5 times greater compared to nearby forested areas. Clearcutting can also lead to an increased possibility of rapid runoff, loss of economic sustainability in that no timber products are available for a long time after clearcutting, loss of habitat for some wildlife species, unattractive visual effect, greater possibility of unwanted shrub and grasses becoming established, as well as a decrease in property values; diminished recreation, hunting, and fishing opportunities.

Positive perspectives

Clearcutting can be practiced to encourage the growth and proliferation of tree species that require high light intensity
Shade tolerance
In ecology, shade tolerance is a plant's abilities to tolerate low light levels. The term is also used in horticulture and landscaping, although in this context its use is sometimes sloppy, especially with respect to labeling of plants for sale in nurseries....

. Generally, a harvest area wider than double the height of the adjacent trees will no longer be subject to the moderating influence of the woodland on the microclimate
A microclimate is a local atmospheric zone where the climate differs from the surrounding area. The term may refer to areas as small as a few square feet or as large as many square miles...

. The width of the harvest area can thus determine which species will come to dominate. Those with high tolerance to extremes in temperature
Temperature is a physical property of matter that quantitatively expresses the common notions of hot and cold. Objects of low temperature are cold, while various degrees of higher temperatures are referred to as warm or hot...

, soil moisture
Water content
Water content or moisture content is the quantity of water contained in a material, such as soil , rock, ceramics, fruit, or wood. Water content is used in a wide range of scientific and technical areas, and is expressed as a ratio, which can range from 0 to the value of the materials' porosity at...

, and resistance to browsing
Browsing (predation)
Browsing is a type of herbivory in which an herbivore feeds on leaves, soft shoots, or fruits of high growing, generally woody, plants such as shrubs. This is contrasted with grazing, usually associated with animals feeding on grass or other low vegetation...

 may be established, in particular secondary succession
Secondary succession
Secondary succession is one of the two types of ecological succession of plant life. As opposed to the first, primary succession, secondary succession is a process started by an event that reduces an already established ecosystem Secondary succession is one of the two types of ecological...

al pioneer species
Pioneer species
Pioneer species are species which colonize previously uncolonized land, usually leading to ecological succession. They are the first organisms to start the chain of events leading to a livable biosphere or ecosystem...


Clearcutting can be used by forester
250px|thumb|right|Foresters of [[Southern University of Chile|UACh]] in the [[Valdivian forest]]s of San Pablo de Tregua, ChileA forester is a person who practices forestry, the science, art, and profession of managing forests. Foresters engage in a broad range of activities including timber...

s as a method of mimicking disturbance and increasing primary successional
Ecological succession
Ecological succession, is the phenomenon or process by which a community progressively transforms itself until a stable community is formed. It is a fundamental concept in ecology, and refers to more or less predictable and orderly changes in the composition or structure of an ecological community...

 species, such as poplar
Populus is a genus of 25–35 species of deciduous flowering plants in the family Salicaceae, native to most of the Northern Hemisphere. English names variously applied to different species include poplar , aspen, and cottonwood....

Populus section Populus, of the Populus genus, includes the aspen trees and the white poplar Populus alba. The five typical aspens are all native to cold regions with cool summers, in the north of the Northern Hemisphere, extending south at high altitudes in the mountains. The White Poplar, by...

), willow
Willows, sallows, and osiers form the genus Salix, around 400 species of deciduous trees and shrubs, found primarily on moist soils in cold and temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere...

 and black cherry in North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

. Clearcutting has also proved to be effective in creating animal habitat and browsing areas, which otherwise would not exist without natural stand-replacing disturbances such as wildfire
A wildfire is any uncontrolled fire in combustible vegetation that occurs in the countryside or a wilderness area. Other names such as brush fire, bushfire, forest fire, desert fire, grass fire, hill fire, squirrel fire, vegetation fire, veldfire, and wilkjjofire may be used to describe the same...

s, large scale windthrow
In forestry, windthrow refers to trees uprooted or broken by wind. Breakage of the tree bole instead of uprooting is sometimes called windsnap.- Causes :...

, or avalanche
An avalanche is a sudden rapid flow of snow down a slope, occurring when either natural triggers or human activity causes a critical escalating transition from the slow equilibrium evolution of the snow pack. Typically occurring in mountainous terrain, an avalanche can mix air and water with the...


In temperate and boreal
Taiga , also known as the boreal forest, is a biome characterized by coniferous forests.Taiga is the world's largest terrestrial biome. In North America it covers most of inland Canada and Alaska as well as parts of the extreme northern continental United States and is known as the Northwoods...

 climates, clearcutting can have an effect on the depth of snow, which is usually greater in a clearcut area than in the forest
A forest, also referred to as a wood or the woods, is an area with a high density of trees. As with cities, depending where you are in the world, what is considered a forest may vary significantly in size and have various classification according to how and what of the forest is composed...

, due to a lack of interception
Interception (water)
Interception refers to precipitation that does not reach the soil, but is instead intercepted by the leaves and branches of plants and the forest floor. It occurs in the canopy , and in the forest floor or litter layer...

 and evapotranspiration
Evapotranspiration is a term used to describe the sum of evaporation and plant transpiration from the Earth's land surface to atmosphere. Evaporation accounts for the movement of water to the air from sources such as the soil, canopy interception, and waterbodies...

. This results in less soil frost
Frost line
The frost line—also known as frost depth or freezing depth—is most commonly the depth to which the groundwater in soil is expected to freeze. The frost depth depends on the climatic conditions of an area, the heat transfer properties of the soil and adjacent materials, and on nearby heat sources...

, which in combination with higher levels of direct sunlight
Sunlight, in the broad sense, is the total frequency spectrum of electromagnetic radiation given off by the Sun. On Earth, sunlight is filtered through the Earth's atmosphere, and solar radiation is obvious as daylight when the Sun is above the horizon.When the direct solar radiation is not blocked...

 results in snowmelt
In hydrology, snowmelt is surface runoff produced from melting snow. It can also be used to describe the period or season during which such runoff is produced. Water produced by snowmelt is an important part of the annual water cycle in many parts of the world, in some cases contributing high...

 occurring earlier in the spring.

See also

  • Clearcutting in British Columbia
    Clearcutting in British Columbia
    When logging began in British Columbia, Canada, in the late 19th century, the overriding concern was to harvest timber in the most economical fashion. Reforestation, aesthetics and protection of fish and wildlife habitat were not issues of great concern....

  • Even-aged timber management
    Even-aged timber management
    Even aged timber management is a group of forest management practices employed to achieve a nearly coeval cohort group of forest trees. The practice of even aged management is often pursued to minimize costs to loggers; however, the practices of even aged timber management are frequently implicated...

  • List of tree species by shade tolerance – shade intolerant and some intermediate species are primarily regenerated with clearcuts
  • Seed production and gene diversity
    Seed production and gene diversity
    -Group coancestry of a population:Consider the gene pool of a seed orchard crop or other source of seeds with parents. The gene pool is large as there are many seeds in a seed crop, so there is no genetic drift. The probability that the first gene originates from genotype i in the seed orchard is...

External links

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