The harvesting of 299 acres in Yellowwood State Forest is NOT deforestation and it did not decrease the amount of forest land in Indiana.
Deforestation is the permanent conversion of forest land to non-forested use, like clearing forest land for agriculture or residential or commercial development.
The single tree selection harvest that was conducted on the 299 acres did not remove all of the trees and the land is not being converted to non-forested uses. A total of 1,733 trees were removed for an average of six trees per acre, and most trees remain.
This area was hit hard by several things in recent years — the emerald ash borer killed white ash trees, the drought of 2012 coupled with the tulip tree scale affected many of the tulip trees.
Additionally, as we are just learning now, many of the chestnut oaks were also affected by the drought. Almost all of the large white and red oaks were left, as were hickory and walnut.
By removing the dying and declining trees such as the white ash and tulip trees, the area is safer for public use. And by thinning some of the other trees, more resources — sunlight, water, soil nutrients — are made available for the remaining trees to grow. The oaks and hickories will produce more nuts, which are an important food source for many Indiana wildlife species.
Oak-hickory forests support over 500 species of Lepidoptera (moths/butterflies), which feeds many species of songbirds.
Indiana’s State Forests were created to be working forests. They are actively managed for timber, wildlife habitat, recreation, watershed protection and as demonstration areas for private landowners to learn good forest management techniques.
The majority of the remainder of DNR’s public land portfolio, including state parks and nature preserves, has acreage that is permanently set aside from active management.
These are the areas that will be allowed to develop into old forests, over 16,000 acres protected in Brown County alone.
Indiana Forestry & Woodland Owners Association