Ask the Forester
Have a question regarding forestry or land management? Below are some questions posed by visitors and answered by QDMA Member Matthew Paul. If your question isn’t listed, feel free to submit a new question using the link below.
- What is a Forester?
- What is High Grading?
- Isn't it true that the understory of the forest is being destroyed by the canopy of mature trees and not by the deer?
- Where in the forever wild law of NY is it specified that wild forest fires must be put out? There are many examples of how beneficial forest fires can be for regeneration and wildlife. It is strange that they are extinguished in an area that is supposed to be "wild".
What is a Forester?
A forester is a specialist with advanced education, using his or her abilities and knowledge of forestry and natural sciences to provide professional forestry services to private individuals, corporate and government entities. Professional ethics expects allegiance to the employer.
A consultant forester works in the private sector providing services on a fee or contingency basis, not employed by a forest industry with no direct economic interest in a timber procurement or purchasing entity.
An industrial forester may work for a wood using manufacturer or may have an economic interest in a timber purchasing or procurement entity. Industrial foresters may provide professional services to forest owners on a fee basis or other consideration such as a right of first refusal to purchase timber products that may be offered for sale from an owner's property.
DEC service foresters are located throughout the state, providing help to forest owners upon request. They can help you get started in managing your forest land.
DEC foresters provide expert assistance and free advice however they have limited time to provide extensive personal service. Private foresters on the other hand can, for a fee or other consideration provide comprehensive service as needed, complementing assistance from DEC. Your decision to initially work with a DEC forester or a private forester will depend upon the type of service, the complexity of the job and how soon you require assistance.
Many Cooperating Foresters are in a position to provide a wide array of forestry services to their clientele while others may concentrate their efforts or specialize in certain areas. You should discuss your specific needs with a private forester to determine if he or she offers those services desired.
What is High Grading?
High Grading- the removal of the most commercially valuable trees (high-grade trees), often leaving a residual stand composed of trees of poor condition or species composition. High-grading may have both genetic (dysgenic effects) and long-term economic or stand health implications.
Dysgenic- being detrimental to the genetic qualities of future generations.
(Helms, John A. The Dictionary of Forestry. The Society of American Foresters, Bethesda, M.D.)
Isn't it true that the understory of the forest is being destroyed by the canopy of mature trees and not by the deer?
Short Answer "No". Long Answer. Our forests are a very diverse system. The trees that grow in them and regenerate have evolved with very specific preferences related to a number of factors including light levels, soil productivity, climate, etc. Each species has its own combination of preferences that are needed for it to regenerate. Early successional forests are usually dominated by fast growing "shade intolerant" trees such as Aspen. As the forest matures these species fail to regenerate as the canopy closes and light levels in the understory decrease. At this point, slow growing "shade tolerant" species begin to germinate and become more present in the understory. Their high tolerance for shade enables them to have a competitive advantage over other less tolerant species. As the overstory dies it is gradually replaced by these more shade tolerant trees. Unless there is a disturbance that dramatically increases light levels these late successional species will perpetuate themselves forever. A high abundance of deer can interfere with this cycle.
In a disturbance such as a clearcut, high numbers of deer will selectively browse seedlings allowing for the establishment of lesser preferred or more browse resistant species of plants and trees. Such species can include a variety of invasive plants and trees that will take over the understory and make it even more difficult for other plants and trees to establish themselves. Over time this can have a dramatic impact on a forests ecological diversity and its ability to accommodate various species of wildlife including deer.
In a mature forest where light levels are already limited, shade tolerant seedlings such as maple grow very slow. They wait for a single overstory tree to die and then they shoot upward into the gap. These seedlings spend much more time within the browse zone than faster growing shade intolerants thus increasing the likelihood of sustained and repeated browse. A browse line, consisting of little or no desirable regeneration up to a height of five feet, will often become evident in this situation. When an overstory tree does eventually drop away, there are no established trees in the understory to take its place.
It's also important to remember that trees aren't the only understory species impacted by deer in a mature forest. A wide variety of plants and wildflowers that would normally thrive in these low light level conditions become more rare as deer levels increase. These plants are eaten before they are able to go to seed and can be gradually extirpated as the seed source becomes exhausted. Even with a closed canopy, a healthy forest with a well balanced deer herd will have an understory full of shade tolerant plants, wild flowers, and tree seedlings. A good example of this (outside of a fenced in area) can be seen at the Cary Institute for Ecosystem Studies which has had a very effective deer management program for well over two decades.
Where in the forever wild law of NY is it specified that wild forest fires must be put out? There are many examples of how beneficial forest fires can be for regeneration and wildlife. It is strange that they are extinguished in an area that is supposed to be "wild".
Environmental Conservation Law - Article 9- Title 11 establishes the States Authority in the management and suppression of forest fires.
New York Codes of Rules and Regulations Title 6 Chapter II Part 190 further specifies the Departments Role in forest fire protection and prevention.
The above laws and regulations have been interpreted and determined sufficient to allow for the Department to take action within the forest preserve to extinguish wildfires if and when they occur. There is no specific language in any existing law that specifically prohibits actions taken by the Department for the purpose of suppressing fire within the forest preserve. For more information please feel free to contact the NYS Forest Rangers directly at your Regional DEC Office.