We recently had a huge Green Ash tree cut down which had succumbed to the Emerald Ash Borer. While on-site, we had the arborists trim out some of other trees as well. When they were working on our huge old Bur Oak, the crew supervisor mentioned to me that trimming out some of the big old dead branches reminded him of daylighting. New word…of course, I had to learn what it meant.
Daylighting refers to the practice of thinning out forested habitat to increase the sunlight on the forest floor. This removal of vegetation encourages the growth of shrubs and other herbaceous vegetation. Hunters use this practice on their hunting property to improve wildlife habitat.
In researching this new word, I also found it being used in conjunction with wildfire prevention. Opening the tree canopy between the ground vegetation and tree crowns and especially along roads can minimize the spread of wildfires. “The open canopy and herbaceous understory minimizes woodland fuel and reduces the intensity of wildfires.” (USDA)
If you think you may be doing some daylighting in the future, please do so in such a way as to minimize soil erosion, compaction, rutting and damage to remaining vegetation. Also be careful not to change hydrologic conditions, unless, of course, you want the water drainage flowing differently.
See also Daylighting Roads and Trails to Create Edge.
Naturally decayed wood encourages wildflowers, wild orchids, lichens, ferns and mosses. You can shape the trimmings if you want. It eventually turn into a crumbly substance. It comes in varied colors from black to putty to a bright red brown.
Rot is accelerated decay. It generally looks and smells nasty in the process.
Donna VanBuecken says
Not all decaying plant material smells nasty, Indy. Just like all plant material has a different smell, it also has a different smell when it decomposes.
Sarah Dalton says
MetroParks of Columbus and Franklin County for a long while had a practice of randomly trimming cut stumps so they would decompose in a more natural-looking way. Cuts were trimmed unevenly or cross-hatched with a chainsaw to make them look less “cut”. Definitely made stumps from tree removals look less unnatural.
Donna VanBuecken says
Hi! Sarah. It’s good to hear from you. Sometimes people with all the best intentions are so misguided…