Listening to the National news daily is stressful and upsetting. There are numerous problems needing realistic solutions to provide a desirable future for American citizens and to strengthen application of the U.S. Constitution and our democratic principles we have given so many lives to establish and support.
Our government institutions were designed to establish realistic rules and regulations that allow our citizens to live together in a free society that works to support equality, freedom and fairness for all. Both the Executive and Legislative branches are elected to assure this goal is achieved and enforced through the rule of law. The other duty of our government is to pool our resources and utilize them to find realistic solutions to complex issues and problems that are beyond the ability of individuals or smaller groups to solve. Working together to achieve these two major responsibilities are the basis for a free Democratic society, which we have spent over 250 years building. Thrust for power and complete control, by extremists has destroyed the effectiveness of our political process.
I have spent the past 25 years reflecting on my life’s experiences, empirical observations and searching for information others have published on humanity’s connection to the natural world. I have learned much from studying how our indigenous people relate to nature. It is very different from how dominant society views nature. Earth does not belong to us; we simply have the privilege of living out our lives on this majestic planet. Somehow, we must accept that we are simply one small part of this complex natural world we call nature. Only then will we be able to see and understand what must be done to provide for future generations.
The application of current scientific management principles to our remaining forest covered lands, provides an excellent example of how we are attempting to force nature to meet our greedy demands. We continue to hold on to the belief that forestry is “growing trees as crops”. In other words, it is nothing more than growing corn, wheat, or any other agricultural crop. This definition is responsible for our current goal of a sustained flow of forest products from the remaining forested lands. Management still focuses on what we can take from the forests, rather than the health, vigor and diversity of the remaining forest cover. We believe we are the master of our own destiny, and can demand, manipulate, change and control nature. Somehow, we must change our ways if we expect to experience a brighter future.
Recently, I listened to singer and song writer Carol King, being interviewed on national news. She has taken on the responsibility of challenging present-day management of our public forested lands, and the Forest Service in particular. I commend her for challenging current management of our forest system lands under the management of the U.S. Forest Service, and support the need to establish new management goals. Change is necessary for the future sustenance of life on Earth. Her main goal appears to be to eliminate commercial logging in our public forest lands. True, current management goals focus on timber harvesting. The truth however is, commercial logging is supposed to be simply one of many tools available to carry out management prescriptions for individual forest ecosystems. It is the management goals and prescriptions that require major changes.
With only twenty-seven percent of Earth’s Forest covering remaining and eighty percent of all known living species requiring trees and forests for survival, we must focus on the condition of the remaining forest ecosystems. The remaining forested lands must be kept healthy and vigorous so can continue to provide the essential elements that support life on our planet. Maintaining the diversity of our initial forest ecosystems is vital to the sustenance of life on Earth. Diversity was designed into the creation of life systems on Earth and life cannot continue without it. Science now realize that climatic conditions are affected by forest cover almost as much as the burning of fossil fuels. The life sustaining elements we require from the natural world include; the cooling effect of shade provided by forests, the purification of water provided by trees, the production of oxygen, the cycling of water into the atmosphere which returns to earth as rain and snow, the prevention of soil erosion, the storage of poisonous carbon dioxide and the ruff surface that reduces wind velocity.
Yes, change is a necessity! It will necessitate changing management goals and strategies, and identifying the tools available for implementing proper management strategies. Timber harvesting is not a goal, but rather a tool. Clear-cutting, designed to maximize wood fiber production per acre, must be returned to the tool box and used only when it is the best treatment for the ecosystem. Even-aged management utilizing clear-cutting, is the major reason we are losing the natural diversity of our original forest cover. We have got to keep the forest communities healthy and vigorous so they can function at optimal levels to provide the essential elements required for life. Preparing prescription for the individual forest communities must replace management actions applied to watersheds, valleys or mountainsides. This demands the ability to read the land and recognize the unique site conditions that determine vegetation species for the site. It means relying on natural regeneration provided by the mother trees, in order to maintain the original diversity of the community. It means copying nature’s way! Change demands, strong leadership and the courage to make a difference!
The next chapter will continue this discussion.