Our last article talked about the need to convert words to action, but requires more discussion of why and how we can accomplish these actions. I have presented numerous facts that describe the decline of our natural world but, feel compelled to provide more detail. Tropical rain forests are actually more important than other forested lands as they house an estimated 50% of all life on Earth yet, cover only 2% of Earth’s land surface. Some tropical forest communities have over 400 tree and plant species present. We have currently identified almost 10 million unique species of organisms and scientists suggest we have discovered less than 80% of species occupying our land base and less than 90% of our sea organisms. The estimated number of different species on our planet reaches as high as 50 million. It has been projected that our tropical forest will be eliminated within the next 100 years. These statistics provide additional supporting data for defining the complexity of creation and rationale for why we need adjustments in our relationship with the natural world.
I found an appropriate quote from Dr. E. O. Wilson, renowned educator and author on survival of life on this planet. “According to archaeological evidence, we strayed from Nature with the beginning of civilization roughly ten thousand years ago. That quantum leap beguiled us with an illusion of freedom from the world that had given us birth. It nourished the belief that the human spirit can be molded into something new to fit changes in the environment and culture, and as a result the timetables of history desynchronized. A wiser intelligence might now truthfully say of us at this point: here is a chimera, a new and very odd species come shambling into our universe, a mix of Stone Age emotion, medieval-self-image, and godlike technology. The combination makes the species unresponsive to the forces that count most for its own long-term survival”. This seems to explain, as best we can, why intelligent people continue to be passive while our life sustaining Natural World continues to disappear! Is it not greed that breeds this passiveness?
Step number one is to re-define our vision and goals of management for our natural world. The science of forestry must first recognize that forests are so much more than just a group of trees. The science of forestry is far more complex than a normal agricultural process. Many tree species have life expectancies of hundreds, even thousands, of years and contribute life sustaining elements far more critical than wood products. Forests are the home for 80% of the worlds terrestrial bio-diversity. The story of creation is extremely complex and, we must never forget that the element of “Diversity” is the single most important element that allows this majestic planet to function day-to-day. The question is how do we manage for diversity? We first re-establish the goal of forest land management to forest health, vigor and diversity, we stop applying management treatments to large land units and start treating individual forest communities. Read the land! I have defined what I mean by a forest community in the past, but let me expand. Agricultural lands are divided into square units for purposes of land subdivision for ownership identification. This has resulted in dividing the property into fields that are usually square and frequently fenced. The equipment that has been developed to till and pick the crops, are designed to function well on these individual field shapes. The trouble is that not every acre is the same within the field, so production varies acre by acre. Today’s farmers explain they have fixed the problem by putting a disc in the computer so each individual acre is treated based upon the needs of that particular acre. Someone had to be able to read the land to develop the computer disc! The same principle applies to forested lands. Every forest community is different and demands an individual treatment thus providing for the natural diversity of forest communities. The object is not to make each community the same but to maintain or enhance the natural diversity that is natures way! One can still package treatments of several communities to offer a large enough project to attract commercial operators. Even natural western conifer communities have 4 to 8 different species within the community and usually a variety of age classes, not to mention the diversity of other living organisms within each community. Northern hardwood and central hardwood communities have even more diversity within each unique stand. I now live in Shenandoah valley of Virginia where over harvesting a hundred plus years ago, left the mountains almost void of trees. Today the mountainsides are covered with beautiful second grow central hardwoods. Fortunately, the vast majority of these stands were allowed to regenerate with natural seed sources from indigenous tree species thereby, providing diverse conditions similar to the original communities. In addition to a variety of age classes, you can identify 15 to 20 different tree and shrub species within each community. We learn through observation! If we truly care about future generations, we must observe and take action! Science and technology will not provide the desired future we seek! Nature's Way copies the story of Creation!