A Working Forest
Our world’s forests and forestry itself, are at a crossroads. As we enter the second decade of the 21st century, it is essential the larger populous begin to understand the importance of the stewardship of our forest resources.
The world’s forests remain under siege, and their ecological and economic integrity are both at risk. This siege is relentless, and is coming from both extremes. Wealthy countries such as the United States are loving many of their forests to death with a lack of active stewardship, while poorer nations are physically destroying their forests simply to survive or export their forest products to the rich countries.
In the bigger picture, the decisions being made with regard to protecting the world’s forest resources are not being made by trained forest ecologists, professional foresters or biologists. The future of forest resources is now in the hands of a global, political and social structure that has little understanding of forests and their critical importance to the world’s survival.
This issues dealing with the world’s forests are complex with no simple answers, yet our working forests are speaking to us every day, and we need to start listening.
Every human being on this planet is dependent upon the protection and sustainability of earth’s forest resources. If you breathe air or drink water, you need forests.
As a forester, I make decisions everyday to cut trees. In the last thirty-five years my decisions have resulted in the cutting of millions of trees on thousands of acres of land. These decisions were not made lightly. As we look towards the future of our forests, we all must keep looking backwards too. How have forest’s responded to our past actions? By looking back, we see both the good and the bad results of our actions.
The future of our forest ecosystems can be a bright one, but only if we take the correct way at this crossroads.
As my friend, Dr. Jerry Franklin has said, “We must be collaborating with nature.” By a better understanding of how working forests are working for us. “We will be okay” as my friend Chuck Leavell says. And of course, as the first graders of Central School say, “If we take care of the forests, the forests will take care of us”!
Robert R. Williams
Registered Professional Forester
Professional Wetland Scientists