Report outlines benefits of thinner Arizonan forests

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A report produced by Arizona State University’s Sustainability Solutions Services (S3) and The Nature Conservancy indicates that a thinning process could boost the health of Arizona’s forests while making them more resistant to environmental extremes and strengthening rural economies.The report, titled “Modeling the Economic Viability of Restorative Thinning,” provides an assessment of possible wood processors and consumers, or “business clusters,” if small diameter wood from northern Arizona was sustainably harvested.

The services first surveyed existing businesses, reviewed current and emerging technologies, and toured forest thinning and small diameter wood product operations in Arizona. A generalized model of a forest product supply chain based on small diameter wood was used to investigate industry scenarios in a variety of forested landscapes. Should this practice be adopted, the anticipated benefits include a lessened risk of catastrophic fires, erosion and sedimentation of downstream reservoirs, as well as improved wildlife habitat, protected recreational opportunities and an increase in water for our rivers and communities.