In a report written for Tree Farmer Magazine, three extension specialists, one forestry professor, one assistant dean of a major college of forestry and a state forest health specialist agree that clearcutting is a necessary silvicultural practice. According to the article, a complete clearcut "usually creates the best conditions for regenerating stands" under certain conditions and should be used when those conditions occur.
This is opposed to a "commercial" clearcut where only trees of marketable species, size and quality are cut. "Commercial clearcutting, sometimes called high-grading, is appropriate only where nearly all trees in the stand are marketable or where the harvesting process will knock down all the unmarketable trees."
When are conditions right to consider clearcutting a forest? Here are seven conditions:
- When regenerating tree species that need full sunlight to stimulate seed sprouting and seedling growth.
- When dealing with sparse or exposed or shallow-rooted trees that are in danger of being damaged by wind.
- When trying to produce an even-aged stand.
- When regenerating stands of tree species that are dependent on wind blown seed, root suckers or cones that need fire to drop seed.
- When faced with salvaging over-mature stands and/or stands killed by insects, disease or fire.
- When converting to another tree species by planting or seeding.
- To provide habitat for wildlife species that require edge, new ground and "high-density, even-aged stands".
Further Reading on the Clearcutting Debate:
Clearcutting - Myths and Facts
A clearcutting report by the West Virginia University Extension Service.