The human hand, applied to the woods

One edge of our property is bordered by a beautiful little creek. We often go down there to sit, relax, and (weather permitting) wade or loll about like hippos. A private road is on the other side. Last week, a crew outfitted with large machines spent a few days noisily sawing and cutting over there.

Here’s what it looks like now. Our side, on the left, now looks quite scraggly by comparison:

It got me wondering. Was this maintenance done for looks, or for ecological health? I initially assumed that the property owners over there want things looking nice and tidy, more like a park than the wild woods, and that’s why they’d had it trimmed. (In which case, I’d feel a bit disdainful about the effort. You want to live in the woods? Then get used to the vegetation! You probably use a leaf-blower too, you gas hog!)

But maybe the purpose was to keep the woods healthy–taking out the grapevines and poisin ivy that can pull down the trees, clearing out saplings to favor the older specimens, beating back the many invasive species that plague everyone around here. I just don’t know enough about forestry to be able to judge, nor to predict whether erosion along the creek bank might become a problem after work like this.

Anyone else have experience with this sort of thing? What makes for green forest-clearing?

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