The Tree Ring Pen is made from the product of restoration harvests, which restore species composition and structure to a more natural and fire resilient state. The photos, below, are of an old-growth stand in Lolo National Forest, Montana with 300 plus year-old trees that was restored from an unnaturally dense forest (left) to a more natural and resilient condition (right).
( Old Growth Pre Restoration ) ( Old Growth Post Restoration )
The thinning necessary to restore some old-growth forests to a more resilient condition is often economically unviable because of their remote locations, difficult access, and/or small diameter and low value trees. To help overcome these barriers, Tree Ring Pens utilize low value/younger trees, raise awareness about, and help fund the restoration of old-growth forests. 5 percent of the sale price of each pen is donated to organizations working to restore North America's old growth forests.
Portions of the last remaining old-growth forests across western North America are at risk due to unnaturally dense understory conditions that exacerbate catastrophic fire and insect and disease related mortality. A 10-year review of the Northwest Forest Plan (covering Washington and Oregon) warned that without restoration treatments, old-growth forests in these dry provinces are at considerable risk from catastrophic fire and insect and disease mortality- http://www.fs.fed.us/pnw/publications/pnw_gtr646/.
The forest composition and structure of many western forests have changed over the last 100 years because of fire suppression, grazing, and overharvesting of ponderosa pine and western larch. These forests are now unnaturally dense with an over abundance of Douglas-fir trees. Due to the increased density and structure (e.g., understory ladder fuels), these forests are now more susceptible to stand replacing fire.
As stated in congressional testimony (June 4, 2010) by renowned ecologists Dr. Jerry F. Franklin and Dr. K. Norman Johnson:
"Restoration programs must begin with efforts to restore and maintain historic populations of the old pine trees. Old-growth trees – primarily ponderosa pine but sometimes of other species, such as western larch, Douglas-fir, and sugar pine – are the keystone ecological structures in the dry forests. In stands of appropriate density these old trees dominate, provide critical habitat, offer the greatest resistance to fire and drought (and climate change), and are the source of the large persistent snags and logs (again, critical habitat for the majority of the vertebrates). Stewardship needs to focus on retaining and nurturing the existing population of old trees – and, again, they are at as great a risk from excessive stand density (competition) as they are from fire."
More on Forest Restoration.....
The forces shaping a tree's life are complex and inter-related. Periods of drought along with increased competition will weaken a tree's ability to withstand insect and disease attacks. Restoration thinning projects can improve a forest's ability to resist insect and disease mortality. However, dead and dying trees are also essential to ecosystem health because they provide habitat for many species. It is important that restoration projects find an appropriate balance between tree health and habitat. The dead tree (right) was retained from logging during a forest restoration project, and is now being used by a variety of woodpeckers and other birds.
In fire suppressed forests, the tree rings are very narrow compared with faster growing trees in more open stands. Non-lethal low intensity fires occurred every 5-20 years in many western forests prior to European settlement. With a low intensity fire, the more susceptible trees are killed and forests become dominated by larger diameter (2-4 feet wide) fire resistant trees in a "park like" setting. In today's altered forests, small diameter Douglas-fir trees, which are more susceptible to fire than pine and larch, are more abundant and grow slowly in the crowded, low moisture, and low light conditions. Restoration forestry can be used to mimic the effects of fire.