It was not until the 1880's that a few individuals began to recognize there were limits to how much earth could produce. Bernard Fernow was one of these people and was considered the, " Father of Forestry in America ". This was really the first effort in America to begin managing our remaining forest cover for future use. It was not until the mid-1890's however, when Gifford Pinchot began a major movement to protect and manage our forests by establishing National Forests. The very first Forest Reserves were set aside in 1893 and the Forest Service was established in 1905 with Gifford Pinchot as the first Chief.
Gifford had some different ideas about forestry and the basis for his thoughts were driven by the medieval European forestry values. Some of his quotes provide insight into his concepts of forest management. " It must be clearly borne in mind that all land must be devoted to its most productive use for the good of the whole people ". " The first duty of the human race is to control the earth it lives upon ". " The National Forests are to be used for utilitarian purposes, and timber production is the preeminent use ". " To grow trees as a crop is forestry ". These concepts have been the driving principles of forest land management ever since and are the reason the Forest Service is an agency within the Department of Agriculture. The driving goal of forestry is to take from the forests the valuable natural resources we desire.
My forestry education and 34 years of experience has led me to conclude that managing our remaining forests as agricultural crops will not provide for an acceptable future for life on this planet!
I recognize that trees are plants and in fact, 99% of all life on this planet is plants but, forests are different. Science tells us that at least 70% of all life on our planet require forest for survival. I have said this before but must repeat, my experiences gave me the privileged of observing the complexity and detail of the forest makeup. Regardless of how you believe this planet was created, the complexity and diversity of life on earth is almost beyond human comprehension. Our dependency upon our natural world, I believe, is without question as is our ability to destroy that natural world. With the world population predicted to reach 10 billion people in just 35 years and the majority of life dependent upon forested lands, it is evident to me that managing the resources we take from the forests rather than the forests themselves can not provide for the sustenance of life! The forests are not just a mountainside covered in trees but rather, a mosaic of forest communities, each containing a multitude of unique relationships. It is this diversity that 70% of life depend upon for sustenance.
This is the first reason I believe change must be implemented! In the next blog. I will continue to present my rationale for why forestry science needs significant adjustments.