Forestry Friday … The Working Forest

When I write about forestry, I’m most often sharing what goes on in a working forest. A working forest is one that produces commodities, like timber, fiber and bark, as well as provides for environmental benefits such as recreation, clean water and wildlife habitat. I have spent my career on working forests.


A working forest with plantations containing trees in all different life stages.

Think of a working forest like a farm. Farms grow crops of food and other agricultural products. We need farms for our food. Working forests produce forest products and we need them for our shelter. An important difference between the two is that forestlands take years to produce a crop. Working forests spend years growing undisturbed in between intervals of harvesting.  They function as an important source of clean water and as a home for wildlife every year.

logging truck, log truck

There’s a future house on the back of that truck.

One benefit of producing forest products from a working forest is that it creates income for the landowner. When the landowner has an economic return from managing trees the land will continue to be managed as a forest.  There are real costs to owning forestland and if the owner can’t profit managing their forest, they may be forced to develope it into housing subdivisions or some other non-forest use.  Then the wildlife habitat may be lost. In a sense the income from producing forest products protects these forests by making growing trees economically sustainable .

Forest, forester, ponderosa pine, forest

This forested area has been subdivided for homes.

All of our forests are important as wildlife habitat. The conventional wisdom is that mature forest provide the best habitat. That is true for species of wildlife that prefer mature forests. However, many species have different habitat needs that include forest at every age.

Blue grouse, dusky grouse, grouse, photography, nature wildlife, scenic

A dusky grouse.

Forests containing a greater diversity in habitats ranging from mature forest to freshly created openings will support a larger variety of species. Openings are created during harvesting. These openings are planted and then the seedlings begin to grow. Over time the forests develope a great diversity of trees in different age groups. This patchwork of different habitat is available to support many species of wildlife.


This private timberland has diverse habitat which attracts diverse wildlife species.

Working forests aren’t parks, but can still be available for recreation.  Hikers, campers and hunters visit these forests year after year.  I’m not saying that the working forests are better than the parks, but they each have unique purposes.

Big Pine

This is on the Mendocino National Forest. Our national forests are also working forest.

Forests are managed by different government agencies, private entities and individuals with a variety of goals. Forestland management is a topic I will explore more in the future. It warrants a full post.

Leaving the big trees behind.

Redwood National Park may not be a working forest, however even they use logging as a tool to achieve the long term goal of growing a healthy resilient forest.


18 thoughts on “Forestry Friday … The Working Forest

  1. Its so good to get your insights Tim, fascinating stuff. Does all your timber go to be used in building? It always seems a little sad to me that some forests go to pulp mills for toilet paper, yet I know that is still something useful and has to come from somewhere.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Here in the west most wood goes into lumber, plywood, poles and other building products. Most of the material that goes into chips is from the tree tops that are too small for boards or from mill residue. The chips go into paper pulp or fuel for cogeneration plants that generate electricity.


  2. Good to hear from you Tim. We are enjoying some very beautiful and interesting forests while travelling in Japan. Much of the pine is plantations but the mix with the native deciduous forests coming into their autumn splendour is most enjoyable.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Oh, here we have, I should say: TREES! as an ancient Montréaler’s.
        Let me take my notes, that I took this summer: it is a mix forest, most of it: is spruce, maple, have some pine (white), eastern hemlock (thanks to my tree book), birch, oak, but not much, unfortunately, black willow, all the way, along the river, and probably a lot of other species that I have absolutely no idea. I realise that the nature is so rich of kind of trees, mushrooms, ferns,etc.
        It is amazing. The region, Mauricie, in Québec, is one of the best place for black bear, moose, and deers. Actually I have seen few deers near the house, and traces of bears. Here are some photos I took in 2012, without knowing that I would buy some place, there.
        The very last pictures are of the river, and I now live on the left side of it.


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