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Snags - A snag is a standing dead or dying tree, and a downed log is a log that is lying on or near the forest floor. Snags, logs, and woody debris are natural occurrences in mature forests. Trees can be killed by lightning, storm breakage, fire, disease, insects, or a variety of other factors.

Resource managers are becoming more aware of the importance of snags and rotting, downed logs as wildlife habitat. Unfortunately, forest practices such as shorter rotations, firewood removal, timber stand improvement and insect and disease control efforts have limited the number of snags and downed logs available for wildlife habitat. Creating and protecting them in the forest is a simple, low cost habitat improvement that has great benefits for a wide range of wildlife species.

A continuous supply of snags and downed logs must be maintained to sustain populations of animals that depend on these resources. It is important to provide snags of various sizes. Generally, large snags (> 10" DBH) are more valuable than small snags because they can be used by a wider variety of species. Some species, such as black bears, require very large snags. Small clumps of snags scattered over the landscape are generally best because they provide both nesting and foraging sites in one convenient location. A large group of snags usually is not used by more than one pair of the same species because of territorial behavior, and single snags scattered over the landscape may not provide enough nesting and foraging habitat for some species.

Why are Snags and Downed Logs Important?

Wildlife use snags and downed logs for nesting, roosting, foraging, perching, or territorial displays. Some wildlife are game animals; others are insectivorous birds that control forest pests, but all are important components of the forest.

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