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Thinning Trees to Prevent Forest Firest
principles of forest fuel reduction in the US West

removing taller trees in a forest is bad for fire safety

doc-titleBasic principles of forest fuel reduction treatments
quoteLow thinning will be more effective than crown or selection thinning, and management of surface fuels will increase the likelihood that the stand will survive a wildfire. ... Selective removal of large, fire-resistant trees added to the problem, so that by the late 20th century, we had widespread continuous forests with, on average, smaller trees and much greater fuel loads. ... The fourth principle in a fire resilient forest strategy for the short-term is to keep the large trees in the stand if they are present. These are the most fire-resistant trees in the stand, as they have the tallest crowns and thickest bark (Peterson and Ryan, 1986). ... A textbook low thinning will simultaneously increase canopy base height, while crown and selection thinning will not. The latter two methods will generate more income, because they focus on larger trees (Hartsough, 2003), but large trees are also the most fire-resistant ones.
sourceAgee and Skinner on forest fuel reduction