[law-ging, log-ing]

Logging is the process in which trees are cut down for forest management and timber.

Use of the term logging in forestry

In forestry the term logging is sometimes used in a narrow sense concerning the logistics of moving wood from the stump to somewhere outside the forest, usually a mill. In common usage however the term may be used to indicate a range of forestry or silviculture activities. For example the practice of the removal of valuable trees from the forest has been called selective logging sometimes confused with selection cut. Illegal logging refers to what in forestry might be called timber theft. An example of illegal logging is cedar theft, which is most common in the American Pacific Northwest. Timber theft in all forms is quite rare in the United States. In common usage what is sometimes called clearcut logging is not is necessarily considered a type of logging but a harvest or silviculture method and is simply called clearcutting or block cutting. In the forest products industry logging companies may be referred as logging contractors.

Logging usually refers to above-ground forestry logging. Submerged forests exist on land that has been flooded to create artificial dams and reservoirs. Such trees are logged using underwater logging or by the lowering of the reservoirs in question. Ootsa Lake and Williston Lake in British Columbia, Canada, are notable examples where timber recovery has been needed to remove vast inundated forests.

Logging methods

The above operations can be carried out by different methods, of which the following three are considered industrial methods: Tree-length logging

Trees are felled and then delimbed and topped at the stump. The log is then transported to the landing, where it is bucked and loaded on a truck. This leaves the slash (and the nutrients it contains) in the cut area where it must be further treated if wildland fires are of concern.

Full-tree logging

Trees are felled and transported to the roadside with top and limbs intact. The trees are then delimbed, topped, and bucked at the landing. This method requires that slash be treated at the landing. In areas with access to cogeneration facilities, the slash can be chipped and used for the production of clean electricity or heat. Full-tree harvesting also refers to utilization of the entire tree including branches and tops. This technique removes both nutrients and soil cover from the site and so can be harmful to the long term health of the area if no further action is taken, however, depending on the species, many of the limbs are often broken off in handling so the end result may not be as different from tree-length logging as it might seem.Cut-to-length logging
Big trees are felled, delimbed, bucked, and sorted (pulpwood, sawlog, etc.) at the stump area, leaving limbs and tops in the forest. Harvesters fell the tree, delimb and buck it, and place the resulting logs in bunks to be brought to the landing by the forwarder. This method is usable for smaller timber on ground flat enough that forwarders can operate, but does not work well on steep slopes.

Logging and safety

Logging is a dangerous occupation. In the United States, it has consistently been one of the most hazardous industries, having a fatality rate over 21 times higher than the rate for all workers in the US. Loggers work with heavy, moving weights and the use of tools such as chainsaws and heavy equipment on uneven and sometimes unstable terrain. Loggers also deal with severe environmental conditions such as inclement weather and severe heat or cold. An injured logger is often far from professional emergency treatment.

Traditionally, the cry of "Timber!" developed as a warning alerting fellow workers in an area that a tree is being felled, so they should be alert to avoid being struck. The term "widowmaker" for timber that is neither standing nor fallen to the ground demonstrates another emphasis on situational awareness as a safety principle.

The risks experienced in logging operations can be somewhat reduced, where conditions permit, by the use of mechanical tree harvesters and forwarders.

Logging and the environment

The many impacts of logging on the environment can be divided into two broad categories, the timber harvest itself, that is, the removal of trees from the forest, and secondly the impact caused by logging operations such as falling or dragging trees and operation of machinery in the forest.Logging is defined as the removal of particular trees to be utilized for timber. It is this process that provides the wood to shelter people throughout the globe. Unfortunately, there are very little restrictions enforced about the quantity of trees that are logged or the methods to go about this process. Due to the lack of policies, logging continues to contribute to an immense amount of ecological damage. Politicians continue to claim that there is insufficient evidence about the problems induced by logging. As a result, various studies and experiments have been performed in an effort to prove the environmental hazards imposed by logging.

See also


  • Costa, F., & Magnusson, W. (2002). Selective logging effects on abundance, diversity, and composition of tropical understory herbs. Ecological Applications, 12, 807-819.
  • Pinard, M. A., & Putz, F. E. (1996). Retaining forest biomass by reducing logging damage. Biotropica, 28, 278-295.
  • Shukla, J., Sellers, P., & Nobre, C. (1990). Amazon deforestation and climate change. Science, 247, 1322-1325.
  • Sokal, R. R., Gurevitch, J., & Brown, K. A. (2004). Long-term impacts of logging on forest diversity in Madagascar. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 101, 6045-6049.
  • Putz, F., Sist, P., & Frederickson, T. (2008). Reduced-impact logging: challenges and opportunities [Abstract]. Forest Ecology & Management, 256, 1427-1433.

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