We are a part of nature and nature provides what we need to stay healthy and survive on this planet! If we plan to provide a desirable future, it is incumbent we understand and appreciate nature for the role it plays in supporting life systems on planet earth. We have been aware of the devastating effects climate change is having on life itself for decades yet, we are still questioning if it is real and are human demands the major cause of these devastating changes. Industrial, political and media sources have convinced us enormous profits are more important than life itself. It is difficult to understand how we reached and accepted these mis-information conclusions. Fortunately, our young people are more in tune with the scientific data that has been warning us for decades of the coming perils.
I recently learned of the David Suzuki Foundation in Canada; a foundation dedicated to enlightening the public of the environmental issues we face worldwide. I have been reading some of his writings and find them informative and supportive of the concerns I have been expressing. He suggests we should appreciate nature for its own sake, after all we are part of it. There are knowledgeable scientists and caring people trying to alert the public to the truth about our natural world and the need to take actions to change the future we are headed for but, little attention is being given to the issues.
Ideas are beginning to surface as we approach the next election however, it is difficult to know what is true as the two opposing view points are locked in yet, appear to have little personal understanding of the complexity and depth of the issues. The interconnections of Nature are so amazing and complex, we are decades from fully understanding them. It is obvious however, that we are continuing to imperil all the systems that support human life on our planet!
So, the question remains, can we save ourselves? The answer lies in whether or not we are willing the focus on the health and diversity of our natural world or remain dedicated to the creation of wealth and quality life styles. In my mind, the most important element that allows forested lands to sustain and support life systems; is biodiversity. I am overwhelmingly convinced saving human life will require reversing the destruction of biodiversity worldwide. I will use forestry as an example but, we must remember bio-diversity is the key element in the functioning of every life system on Earth!
I have spent the better part of 70 years observing and managing the functioning of our natural world as it relates to forest covered lands. Most of today’s forests are second and third generations due to heavy demands for forest products by our past human society. A few old growth forest communities remain but, they very limited and usually in isolated locations. Here in the Appalachian Mountain country, most of these mountain sides were nearly void of trees 150 to 200 years ago. Fortunately, the second growth was regenerated by natural local seed sources so, the new communities are for the most part, carbon copies of the original stands. Observing these regenerated communities, provides insight into how forest covered lands should be managed to reverse the destruction of biodiversity!
The first requirement is to identify the individual forest communities which are the product of the underling physical characteristics of the site they occupy. Soil types, soil characteristics, slope, slope position, aspect and moisture all help define the boundaries of the community. Managing communities rather than landscapes is critical. The next step is to put clearcutting back in the tool box to be used only when it is the best tool to accomplish the pre-determined goal and objectives for the individual community. Timber harvesting becomes a tool not a goal! The process then is to READ THE LAND; DETERMINE AND SHARE WITH THE PUBLIC, THE MANAGEMENT GOAL FOR THE COMMUNITY; PREPARE A SCIENCE BASED MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR THE COMMUNITY AND SELECT THE PROPER TOOLS TO ACCOMPLISH THE GOAL OF HEALTH AND DIVERSITY! Valuable resources from the treatment become the by-product of proper management.
Our next responsibility is to start the regeneration process. Again, our goal is to improve diversity by avoid plantations of single species and single age classes. We must rely on natural regeneration using local seed sources and allow time to maximize vegetative species diversity and different age classes. Even-age management needs to go to the rear of the bus in most cases. Do not introduce non-indigenous species to the community! Finally, the scientist needs to visit each community every 10 years to evaluate the need for further treatments to support the community’s health and diversity.
This is the only way our shrinking forest acreage will be able to continue to support the various life systems on Earth! This is a more intensive management process than has been applied in the past, or currently on our public forest lands. Although, the process applies to the science of forestry, it has implications for all eco-systems and life systems. The “how to” will change but, the driving goals and objectives will remain the same.
David Suzuki states, “Healthy oceans and the plankton they support give us most of the oxygen we breathe and provide food for much of humanity. Trees sequester carbon, produce oxygen, filter contaminates in the air and water and prevent erosion and flooding. Polar ice caps regulate global temperatures and ocean currents. From the smallest microbes to the largest mammals, biodiverse animal life keeps natural systems in balance, ensuring that everything in the food chain – including us – can find sustenance.”
Reversing the destruction of biodiversity is the key to saving ourselves and desirable future! NEVER FORGET, THE EXTENT OF DIVERSITY IS THE MEASURE OF PREFECTION!