Use of herbicides to control competing vegetation in young forests can increase wood volume yields by 50–150%. However, increasing use of herbicides in forest management has caused widespread concerns among the public and biologists about direct toxicity to wildlife and indirect effects through habitat alteration. Abundant research has indicated that forest herbicide treatments target biochemical pathways unique to plants, do not persist in the environment, and have few toxic effects when operationally applied. Herbicides affect forest biodiversity by creating short-term declines in plant species diversity, altering vegetative structure, and potentially changing plant successional trajectories. For wildlife species, effects vary but generally are short-term. Despite these findings, public opinion against forest herbicides often has limited or restricted their use, likely due to people's values associated with forests and a lack of technical knowledge. Future research efforts on relationships between forest herbicides and biodiversity should address landscape and site-specific issues, be based on rigorous experimental design, be relevant to public concerns, include comparisons of herbicide treatments with alternative treatments excluding herbicides, examine use of chemical mixtures, and determine the social, economic, and possible long-term ecological consequences of treatments.
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