|A lot of people see a dead or dying tree and see something that should be removed from the landscape immediately. I am one of those people, except on occasion where that tree is growing in an area that allows it to provide longer lasting benefits for wildlife habitat. Trees located in woods, forests, buffer strips or wetlands are all ideal candidates to become a snag or sometimes called a wildlife tree. A snag is s a dead or dying tree that can support more life than a living tree! It is true. It really does not vary species to species, dead trees provide benefits. Some species have stronger deadwood though, like our native Eastern Redcedar, Juniperus virginiana.
Obviously, this happens all the time in nature, but in or on managed land, the term for a dead or dying tree that is left to stand is called a snag. If a snag was left to stand and it eventually fails and falls to the ground, or larger parts of a dead tree are removed and placed on the ground, they are called logs. If a standing dead or dying tree has a target (people or property that could be injured/damaged), sometimes it is necessary to remove a part or all of the standing tree. That is why you might see dead trees standing that look like poles that have been cut to 10’, 20’, 30’ or however tall, it is taking a particular target out of play.
Benefits of leaving these snags or logs are many, such as providing a place to live for birds, bats, squirrels, and raccoons. They provide a food source by attracting insects, lichens, and fungi. You will often see larger hunting birds perched in or on top of these trees looking for food. They provide hiding places for all sorts of insects and reptiles as well as breaking down and returning vital nutrients to the soil.