Salvage Logging and Its Ecological Consequences

Forest ecology experts analyse the ecological and economic costs and benefits of salvage logging.

Salvage logging—removing trees from a forested area in the wake of a catastrophic event such as a wildfire or hurricane—is highly controversial. Policymakers and those with an economic interest in harvesting trees typically argue that damaged areas should be logged so as to avoid “wasting” resources, while many forest ecologists contend that removing trees following a disturbance is harmful to a variety of forest species and can interfere with the natural process of ecosystem recovery.

Salvage Logging and Its Ecological Consequences brings together three leading experts on forest ecology to explore a wide range of issues surrounding the practice of salvage logging. They gather and synthesize the latest research and information about its economic and ecological costs and benefits, and consider the impacts of salvage logging on ecosystem processes and biodiversity.

The book examines: what salvage logging is and why it is controversial; natural and human disturbance regimes in forested ecosystems; differences between salvage harvesting and traditional timber harvesting; scientifically documented ecological impacts of salvage operations; and the importance of land management objectives in determining appropriate post-disturbance interventions.

Brief case studies from around the world highlight a variety of projects, including operations that have followed wildfires, storms, volcanic eruptions, and insect infestations. In the final chapter, the authors discuss policy management implications and offer prescriptions for mitigating the impacts of future salvage harvesting efforts.


"The information and arguments they present are becoming increasingly important in a world dealing with climate change, a topic touched on constantly throughout the book. Salvage Logging provides an accessible, absorbing and provocative read for students, academics, land managers, policy makers and the informed public. I think the authors have succeeded spectacularly in their trade-off between brevity and comprehensiveness."
Emma J. Pharo, Austral Ecology, Vol. 34, 2009


The Challenge of Large-scale Natural Disturbances and Salvage Logging
Natural Disturbance of Forest Ecosystems
The Effects of Salvage Logging on Ecological Phenomena
Case Studies of Salvage Logging and Their Ecological Impacts
Limiting Salvage Logging Impacts
Toward Better Management of Naturally Disturbed Forests


David B. Lindenmayer is professor of ecology and conservation science in the Fenner School of Environment and Society at the Australian National University in Canberra.

Philip J. Burton is manager of northern projects at the Pacific Forestry Centre, Canadian Forest Service, in Prince George, British Columbia.

Jerry F. Franklin is professor of ecosystem analysis in the College of Forest Resources at the University of Washington in Seattle.