Low-level thinning can help restore redwood forests without affecting stream temperatures

Source: Oregon State University

Selectively cutting trees in riparian zones to aid forest restoration can be done without adversely affecting streams’ water temperature as long as the thinning isn’t too intensive, new research by Oregon State University shows.

Published in PLOS One, the study led by OSU College of Agricultural Sciences graduate student David Roon is one of the few to quantify restorative thinning’s effects on forest streams.

“We don’t know much about what happens with the more subtle changes in shade and light that come with thinning,” Roon said. “Most of the research so far has looked at the effects of clearcutting with no stream-side buffer at all, or harvests outside of an untouched buffer area. And regulatory requirements tend to look at single descriptors of stream temperature — the warmest it gets in the middle of summer, for example — and those descriptors possibly don’t do a thorough job of explaining thermal influences on ecological processes.”