The study made headlines widely earlier this month, after it was reported that the esteemed journal Science would be publishing the results. The study asserts that forests can recover “as well or better on their own” from forest fires than if they are logged or replanted.
Now, OSU profs opposed to the study have asked Science to reconsider. It’s an unheard-of approach, to smother study results; the journal is due out this week and has told the detractors, politely, to shove off. It’s no surprise that the study, put out by OSU grad student Daniel Donato, 29, is raising hackles. After all, it was carried out on lands burned by the 2002 Biscuit wildfire in southwest Oregon, an area central to the push for salvage logging.
What’s more, the controversy represents a head-to-head clash of forestry theories, and that’s bound to get ugly. We’ve written about science getting personal before. And there are several very personal factors at play here: The fact that Donato, at 29, is getting published in a journal that many of his older, tenured peers would love to have on their resume, for one. For another, money. Forestry dollars fund some of the research put out by OSU profs. Not research performed by Donato, one assumes.
And, to be fair, there are potentially valid scientific concerns, too. Donato’s study drew a broad conclusion, but his team’s research was conducted in one area after one fire over one year — not exactly a definitive look at forest recovery.