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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: U.S. | Environment & Forest Defense
An Ecosystem Approach to Forestry
Forest Farm Management Principles- an Ecosystem Approach to Forestry
Forest Farm management principles involve an ecocosystem approach to forestry. Our philosophy is simple- the term "sustainable" means what is sustainable for the earth, not what is sustainable for man's demand. Nature can only produce a finite quantity of any resource from a piece of land. If we take care of her needs and treat her with respect, she will be more than generous with us. Past forest management practices have been to take as much as you could, as fast as you could, with little regard to the massive disruption to the land itself and its natural processes. Economics ruled- and still do in many areas of the Pacific Northwest.
This has left thousands of acres of cut-over forest land to regenerate, primarily as well as it could on its own. The result is second and third generation growth of tangled masses of trees and seriously degraded ecosystems. Much of this productive timber land grew back as scrub oak woodland, never to be forested with conifers again- and along with this loss of forested land, we have lost their forest ecosystems. Technology has enabled man to take trees far faster than nature can regrow them, yet we have not even paused to realize what we are doing, except taking resources to make money.
Forests of living, healthy trees provide humans with many benefits and enable us to survive in our earthly habitat. Denuding vast landscapes seems to be pretty self-destructive when you stand back and understand that we are robbing ourselves of oxygen, altering the nitrogen cycle, eliminating entire species of plants and animals and actually creating environmental changes that may, arguably, contribute to global warming. There is a cause-effect relationship in all of nature and we have caused far reaching effects in our use of the forest resources.
Our Forest Farm is managed primarily for a balance of ecosystem and habitat protection, while obtaining some minimal commercial value from the by-products of management efforts. We try to maintain our land's natural forest growth conditions with a variety of native species of varying ages. We respect the complement of species that nature has selected to keep this land productive. Although our land favors conifers, predominately Sugar Pine, Douglas Fir, Incense Cedar and Ponderosa Pine, we try never to eliminate any species and have made attempts to reintroduce a few of those species known to be native to the specific area, but not currently found onsite due to past forestry activities. This applies to hardwood and softwood tree species, as well as shrubs, forbs, ferns and other flora. We believe that every species has its place and its value in the natural order of the earth, though that purpose may not be one of financial worth. Often its value may lie solely in providing habitat or food for the abundant wildlife found here. As forest farmers, we grow healthy forest ecosystems- not just trees.
The trees that are taken down and turned into lumber or other products are solely a by-product of our efforts to rehabilitate and improve the health of the forest. We do not manage for the dollar value of a tree as a product- which is to say that we rarely remove a large, healthy tree unless there is a good reason for it. Sometimes large, older trees develop heart rot or become susceptible to pests or diseases, which preclude leaving it to grow. Most often, removal of trees is due to our thinning efforts, which enable the healthy remaining trees to thrive. The trees that are removed, have generally been suppressed and therefore have tighter growth rings, meaning stronger wood. So, although they are not massive logs which easily produce large quantities of lumber, they provide a smaller quantity of quality wood products with a bit more effort.
Our objective is to restore and maintain the health of our forest land's many and varied ecosystems. That does not mean that we do not believe in cutting trees as a resource, it means that we believe that we must be cognizant of our effect on the environment and careful in our management of the forests. It is only through the efforts of those who believe, as we do, that the earth's forests have value far greater than their value in dollars, that this important work can be realized.
We believe that our efforts to find a balance between conservation and judicious utilization of the forest's abundant resources, are vital to the future of our planet earth and the survival of humans as a species.