By: Rubina Obaid
The chances of wildfire get aggravated due to drought, beetle and past fires dry out the water content completely and make them even more combustible. Also, the dry wood emits much more heat in the process of combustion which is way more than green living wood. In order to curtail the hazards of wildfire, the process of biomass harvesting has been recommended.
Wildfire engulfed the Pacific coast of North America for several days and destroyed millions of acres of valuable trees. This significantly impacts the soil structure, floristic composition, and biomass content of the forests. As the forests and the eco-system are not adapted to this disruption and also become one of the major causes of global warming. One of the vital reasons for the increasing problem is poor forest management, as the heavily forested land in the northern and eastern parts of California is 60% owned by the public. Whereas federal forestlands oversights 52% and 8% of the area is controlled by the local municipalities.
However, in the southern United States 94% of the forestland is privately owned, and thus precisely managed by the private owners. Timberlands are actively managed to move the forest material into the markets rapidly for the sake of gaining personal incentives. For the sake of their personal interests and profits, they keep the forests healthy and well maintained. Nevertheless, the wildfire does occur in the southeast region as well but less intensely. For the public-owned forest, budgets are usually stringent due to which, thinning and cleaning process is not done regularly or with the same frequency. Currently, there are 150 million standing dead trees in the forests of California.
The chances of wildfire get aggravated due to drought, beetle and past fires dry out the water content completely and make them even more combustible. Also, the dry wood emits much more heat in the process of combustion which is way more than green living wood. In order to curtail the hazards of wildfire, the process of biomass harvesting has been recommended. The process of biomass harvesting reduces intertree competition and overall improves the growth and condition of the tree. However, if a tree is simply felled and not completely removed from the forests, it increases the fire hazards. Residues bunches are dragged by tractors to the in-wood chipping machine. Everything that is above the ground plant material such as small or dead trees, shrubs, tops, foliage, or limbs of large trees is referred to as forest biomass. These materials left on the forest ground to be decomposed can be harvested for biomass. Fuel obtained from sawmill and agricultural processes residues is obtained for low-cost power generation.
Apart from that, the removal of whole trees also raises a huge concern regarding the depletion of soil nutrients therefore the process of biomass harvesting is supposed to be the most suitable solution to mitigate the wildfire hazards. As biomass harvesting removes most of the trees which are less than 7 inches in diameter and also some of the larger trees as well, that too depends upon the future regeneration for growing the thinned stand. Intense thinning could remove the denser spots. It is done specifically in those areas which are at high risk of catching wildfire.