5.2 Clearcutting

2 min readjanuary 2, 2023

Jenni MacLean

Jenni MacLean


Mark Little

AP Environmental Science ♻️

252 resources
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Long Term Impact

Clearcutting is a method of logging in which one area is rapidly and thoroughly cleared of all its trees at once. This method is often used when the goal is to have a quick and complete harvest rather than cherry-pick certain plants from different areas.
Clearcutting can have significant impacts on the environment, like extreme disruption as well as soil erosion. Wildlife that use these trees for shelter or resources are also depleted of their habitat. Clearcutting can also contribute to climate change by releasing large amounts of carbon stored in the trees into the atmosphere.
Some alternatives to clearcutting include selective logging, in which only certain trees are removed, and group or patch cutting, in which small groups of trees are removed rather than all the trees in a given area. These methods can be less disruptive to the ecosystem and can allow the forest to regenerate more quickly.
One other concern to study regarding clearcutting is the impact on air pollution by absorbing pollutants. Certain trees absorb pollutants like carbon dioxide, used for photosynthesis. Since plants use sunlight with water and CO2 to make sugar and food, the reduction of available plants leaves lots of unused CO2, which warms our planet.
Clearcutting is the most profitable method of harvesting timber but also causes the most damage to the environment. By taking all of the trees in a given area, the natural habitat is completely destroyed. Smaller trees are first taken out with pesticides to remove any obstructions, which reinforces the loss of soil due to complete uprooting. Additionally, the toxic contents of pesticides being introduced to the environment causes more damage. Leaving trees intact prevents damage to soil and to living beings and allows the forest to recover from any deforestation faster.

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