Sunday, April 8, 2007

Why do things the hard way?

Why - the because’s

The most important factor is that this is the right thing to do, any way you want to look at it. And there are a lot of ways to look at anything. Probably one of the most endearing parts of this work is that it continues to create new views and remind one that nobody knows everything. Knowing how little we know, may be the true gift of vision.

Restorative forestry though the humble and harmonizing relationship with animals is the right thing because it shares the wealth of creation more fairly than any other methods. The greatest sharing is the stewardship of leaving the forested conditions improved for increased future value and use by coming generations of our kind. The regard for the other “creatures” (kind) insures the production of values that we can benefit from immediately and increasingly in the future. This is how our organized effort through the foundation is seen to be for the public good, despite not being the most profitable in the first entry or harvest. Therein lays a great challenge. How do you get folks to do the right thing when it doesn’t pay the most from the start? We find the answer may be in the need to quantify the quality of all life. Not to reduce the value to the specific immediate human needs, but to see the value as greatest as a part of the whole. This is a wholeness that we should consider in our every action, including no action. That is when I began to think of the word “wholistic”.

5 comments:

Mary said...

I would love to find someone in my area who could log some trees on my property. I joined the Forestry program in order to get my taxes reduced and I thought I could thereby also preserve my forest. Now the Forestry service is telling me I have to log 10 acres of trees in order to stay in the program. I have seen from properties surrounding me the destruction of logging and the mess left behind. I just cannot do that. Unless I can find someone who can do selective harvesting, then I am going to be forced to exit the foresty program since it is not about saving our forests, but rather destroying them and the wildlife that live therein. Please let me know if you know of anyone in or near Stokes County, NC that does logging with horses.
Thanks for any help or info.

rutledge said...

Mary,
I think I may have referred you to John Hartman in Danbury, NC. He is a trained Biological Woodsman and practices restorative forestry HHFF style.

Now the sad part of this information is that the system or dominant paradigm has manipulated the definition of forestry to mean only "clear cutting". Not only do the conventional forestry interest groups deny that clear cutting is not sustainable they now come up with restrictions to any other management practices to be qualified to be forestry at all. This is an unacceptable practice in this free country. If the foresters had the answer to what sustainable forestry actually was, then nobody would be asking the question. They don't. They manipulate the figures or statistics to make it look like everything is just fine. Meanwhile the public rejects clear cutting and the quality of raw material coming into all processing facilities is declining. This is a sad situation for private property rights in this country. This is an example of hidden heavy handed control of the natural resources of North Carolina and will not fly in the long run. It is absurd, ridiculous power brokering by the dominant paradigm. If you withdraw from the forestry program don't go without a fight. Write an editorial to your local paper, write to your local congressman. Do everything you can to make this an issue with the public. People just simply don't know this is happening. It is the exact opposite of what should happen. You should be rewarded for not clear cutting. Your forest and every forest provides ecological services that are free for the public good. Those services are very valuable and not as great when the forest is clear cut. The public should be made aware of this situation and hopefully we can keep working at educating the public as to what is going on. Common sense could prevail if enough people were aware of what is going on with the government programs.
Please stay in touch and let me know what happens with your woods and if you can contact John Hartman.

Jason Rutledge

Dave Scamardella said...

I am a forester, so I'd like to offer my two cents.

In my opinion, you are both right and wrong. What you say about the "worst first" method does no harm and offers many benefits.

However, you are wrong to say that clear-cutting is unsustainable. Consider the most common alternative--high-grading. High-grading, diameter-limit cutting, selective cutting, whatever you call it, this is the most destructive thing you can do to your woods, and one reason most people decide to do this is to avoid clear-cutting.

Jason, can we agree on one thing: public enemy #1 is high-grading. After we convince everyone that this is a poor practice, we can debate the merits of clear-cutting.

Sincerely,

Dave Scamardella
McConnellsburg, PA

Organic Logger said...

Dave,

I am also a forester.

Public enemy number one on the forest is development which means it is not a forest anymore - forever.

High grading is a bad practice. Low grading is restorative and difficult to pay for - but is the only forestry silvicultural prescription we promote.

It can be called crop tree management, commercial thinning or whatever, but it is restorative forestry to us.

I think clear cutting is the next worst practice after high grading, but that could be debated too.

In particular I would list the following reasons against and results from clear cutting or even aged management:

1. The introduction of alien invasive botanicals is much greater after even aged management.

2. Erosion is greater.

3. The ecological services provided
by the forest are reduced for much longer.

4. The tendency to replant with monoculture species and the application of herbicides to support those species is a companion to clear cutting.

5. Even aged management floods the markets with logs, and basically subsidizes the paper industry, therefore making it harder on everyone that is trying to practice
truly sustainable forestry.

6. It supports the industrially supported myth that shade intolerant species can't be regenerated any other way than even aged management.

7. Even aged management supports the use of expensive equipment which takes money out of the communities and puts it in the hands of distant banks, and more into the oil company profits.

8. Even aged management - clear cutting is despised by the public and gives the entire forest products industry and forester's a bad name.

We don't support group selection either, it uses the same roads over and over for access and creates excessive erosion.

We do clear a house site sometimes, so that is about as close to clear cutting as we practice.

Dave, thanks for looking into this site. I admit that our way doesn't make the most money up front, but submit that over the long term it will make the most money for everyone involved. It also protects the previously not quantified values of the ecological services the forested landscape provides for the public good. This will become more important as a better understanding of climate change and what we can do to mitigate this means from the ground level.

Thanks for posting. Let me know what you think.

Dave Scamardella said...

Jason,

I will respond to your eight points, but first let me tell you my perspective. I am what is called a service forester. I know you have foresters who hold the same job in Virginia. My job is to give advice and other information to landowners who want my help. That is the first problem, landowners generally do not seek advice unless they have a problem, and then it is often too late. I would say that over 75% of the properties I look at have been high-graded. As you know, this leaves the resulting stand degraded, to say the least. So, I am constantly looking for any way to get in front of this problem and get landowners information about what high-grading is before they make a decision that affects their woods for the next generation or two. So, I hope you can see why I see high-grading as the bigger issue than development. Although I am no proponent of development by any means, that is a muddy issue, and one that I don’t claim to have all the answers to. When you explain high-grading to someone, however, something usually clicks and I hope that they will change their decision.

Anyway, it sounded like you wanted to debate clearcutting or even-aged management, and I am happy to do that, too. I will list your point and then respond.

1. The introduction of alien invasive botanicals is much greater after even aged management.

Not necessarily. Unfortunately, I deal with invasive plants much more than I would like, and in my opinion, there are two things that generally give them an advantage: sunlight and disturbance. Yes, in even-aged management, you will bring much more sun to the forest floor once a rotation. However, how often do you enter the stand compared to uneven-aged? Not as often, correct? I am comfortable with this situation, at least, in my experience, it is workable.

2. Erosion is greater.

Erosion on timber harvests is primarily associated with the road system. With the proper use of Best Management Practices, there is no reason that a clearcut in the east is any more susceptible to erosion than a thinning. However, we can agree that horse logging is less damaging than conventional logging, although the horse logger needs to use BMP’s also.

3. The ecological services provided by the forest are reduced for much longer.

Yes, it’s true that some ecosystem services, such as carbon storage and some wildlife habitat would be reduced temporarily, but it is also true that certain species of wildlife (grouse and woodcock, at least) depend on early successional habitat, that I assume you are not able to or do not want to create through uneven-aged manangement.

4. The tendency to replant with monoculture species and the application of herbicides to support those species is a companion to clearcutting.

This may be a regional thing. In my area, we don’t do much plantation forestry. We try to get natural regeneration whenever possible.

5. Even-aged management floods the markets with logs, and basically subsidizes the paper industry, therefore making it harder on everyone that is trying to practice truly sustainable forestry.

Once again, perspective. Please try to step back and see the bigger picture. It is not wrong, unsustainable, or unethical to harvest all the merchantable wood on a given timber sale, if you are reasonably certain that you have regenerated the forest and all the forest under a given manager’s control is managed under a sustained-yield basis. It’s an old idea, but it still holds up. Maybe you’ve heard of the forester and Pennsylvanian who coined the term, Gifford Pinchot?

6. It supports the industrially supported myth that shade intolerant species cant’t be regenerated any other way than even aged management.

Well Jason, I guess you have me here. I do believe the only way that species like black cherry, aspen, and the hard pines can be reproduced is by even-age management. Also, for oak-hickory stands like we usually work in, it is very difficult to manage this forest type sustainably by any other method.

I do kind of resent the implication that thousands of foresters across the country have been hoodwinked by someone connected with the forest products industry. This is truly a ridiculous notion!

7. Even aged management supports the use of expensive equipment which takes money out of the communities and puts it in the hands of distant banks, and more into the oil company profits.

I am in complete agreement with you that we don’t need to solely rely on conventional logging equipment and methods. As I listened to you speak at the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture Conference last year, the thought came to me more than once that I would love it if some young folks from my area would go and take your training in “how to be a horse logger”. I want to do as much as I can to encourage that in my area.

8. Even aged management – clear cutting is despised by the public and gives the entire forest products industry and foresters a bad name.

Yes, there is a cultural bias against clear cutting. We grew up being told that a clearcut is the lifeless. Whoever would do such a thing? You might as well take every critter out there and give them their eviction notice. You and I know that this is not true. It may look bad for some time. I encourage landowners to think about the next forest that will be growing there. What do you want it to look like? Do you want shade-loving trees like birches, maple, or blackgum? Or do you prefer sun-loving species like oak, hickory and cherry?

As you can tell, I enjoy discussing these issues. Sorry it took me so long to write back.

Dave Scamardella
McConnellsburg, PA