Sage has recently incorporated the use of forest mastication equipment in its fire fuel modification projects in wildland/urban interface settings. In early, August we hosted a working demonstration for clients, fire inspectors and media. This client's site had a large amount of acacia dealbata (Green Wattle) to be removed. Acacia is an extremely flameable species of shrub/tree that is difficult to eradicate and a species of concern by fire inspectors.
Traditional treatment is by mechanical clearing (with all biomass transported to the landfill); the use of herbicide to control re-sprouting and stump grinding. The forest mastication equipment treats woody material by mulching or chipping to a small very size and working it into the soil to become a source of nutrition. This approach is more desirable than the common practice of leaving and spreading large mulch on the site while contributing to habitat restoration and forest health.
What is forest mastication? Read article
Mastication is a fuel reduction treatment method used in forestry management to reduce wildfire risk, to reduce fuel loadings by returning the forest to natural conditions. Masticating fuels, or mulching the forest, involves the reduction of vegetation into small chunks and is one of the many ways overstocked forest stands are thinned. The benefits include opening the canopy and forest floor which provides the remaining trees access to more nutrients, sunlight and water. When trees are crowded together, they are in competition for sunlight and water. As a result they tend to be less healthy. Mastication can assist in removing some trees in the early stages, to allow the remaining trees to grow faster, stronger and larger. Over the past decade, Forest mastication methods have dramatically reduced wildfire hazards and greatly improved forest health.
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