We have not given up on our effort to develop environmental education materials for the public schools. Our goal is to get a project started that will produce numerous videos that present information on natural resources linking the human element to the science. At the current time, we are working with the United Methodist Church, Michigan Conference, to see if this project might be a way to involve college students, through the Wesley House, in the production of the educational materials. It may seem like an unusual partnership but, the National United Methodist Church Conference in 2012, passed a resolution to re-build relationships with our indigenous people and apologize for past inappropriate treatment. For this to become a reality, we must find a way to re-build trust between our two cultures. We believe we must start by coming together as equals to work on issues of common concern. The issue of human life on this planet is certainly of common interest and in fact, an issue our Native American people have much knowledge to contribute to finding ways of living in balance with Earth. It is not only an issue of concern, it is vital that we come together to find solutions before it is to late!
The other day I read a news article that stated the global price of sawlogs were up almost 5% due to the increased demand primarily from Russia, Brazil, Germany and British Columbia. Not a shaking news flash but, it made me stop and think again about my concerns with current management of our remaining forested lands. Something must change!
Let me share a few statistics, that for me demonstrate the importance of the need for significant change in the science of forestry. We must first realize that at least 70% of all life on our planet require forest cover. We must also accept that we have destroyed slightly over 50% of the forested acreage that once existed on Earth, leaving only about 30% of our land mass covered with trees. Deforestation can not be stopped, as our population is continuing to expand and will demand far more than Earth can provide.
Today, we have 7 1/2 BILLION people in the world and population expansion will continue. Prior to the 19th century, our world population was small and the rate of increase was about 1/2 %. The 1800's started the big population increase that resulted in a peak expansion rate of slightly over 2% by 1960. Since the 1960's rate of grow in the population has decreased to about 1% however, 1% means the world population is still increasing by 75 MILLION people annually. With our current growth rate, we will reach 10 BILLION people, worldwide, in the next 35 years.
The demand for agricultural lands will continue to result in deforestation, to grow the food required to feed the masses, and urbanization will demand more lands for homes and businesses. We are currently losing 29,000 square miles of forested lands every year through deforestation. In fact, we lose about 20 football fields every minute to deforestation. Within the next 700 years, the forests will be gone, as will the human species!
One of our solutions has been plantations. Cut and plant has been the old style agricultural process of managing forests. It is time to recognize plantations do NOT comprise a complex forest ecosystem, or as I like to call it a forest community! Forests are a mosaic of complex communities or ecological ecosystems, full of interactions by numerous plants and animals, each with their own biological niche and each contributing to the community. You simply can not plant a fresh new ecosystem from a seed bag! These facts form the basis for our effort to design a new approach to environmental education. We just can not set back and ignore this issue without attempting to change the course we are on.
It is time to wake-up and begin managing the forests and allow the resources from the forests to be the BY-PRODUCTS of proper management!!!