That is the question we asked concert goers in downtown Portland last week. The nonprofit organization Ecotrust hosted the music and invited groups to attend with educational booths related to the theme “Treasuring Forests.” At the OSU Extension table, we talked to members of the crowd about the Hopkins Demonstration Forest, the Women Owning Woodlands Network, and the important role that the 70,000 Oregon family forest owners play in our state.

As a conversation starter, we put up a flipchart and invited people to give us their definition of sustainable forestry. A few brave souls took on the challenge.

(Click on the photo to enlarge)

This led to some interesting interactions.

My own view is that sustainable forestry is a much larger and more nuanced concept than anything captured on the flipchart. But I think it’s always instructive to hear what non-forest owners perceive and understand about forestry.

So, what does sustainable forestry mean to you? And, more importantly, two follow up questions: Are you able to implement your vision of sustainable forestry on your land? If not, what is standing in the way?

I invite you to write your thoughts on the virtual flipchart, a.k.a. the comments section of this post.

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5 thoughts on “What does sustainable forestry mean to you?

  1. I like the definition of sustainable development from the Brundtland report: “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

    That leaves a fair bit of fudge-room, so here’s Aldo Leopold:

    “The last word in ignorance is the man who says of an animal or plant, “What good is it?” If the land mechanism as a whole is good, then every part is good, whether we understand it or not. If the biota, in the course of aeons, has built something we like but do not understand, then who but a fool would discard seemingly useless parts? To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering.”
    ― Aldo Leopold, Round River: From the Journals of Aldo Leopold

    I manage for diversity because I do not understand all of the pieces nor how they connect, and I do not know what the future holds.

  2. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder; similarly, forest sustainability is in the belief of the treeholder.

    It is a philosophical belief which is at the mercy of nature herself. What is the sustainability of a family name? Theoretically, just one male heir per generation. Yet due to the quirks and whims of life, three male heirs might not be enough.

    So it is with forestry. Political, market, and natural forces all play a hand it raising havoc with one’s artificial term sustainable.

    My point…..we need to place a pragmatic term on what is defined as sustainable. The smaller the unit of forestland (property ownership)….the less restrictive the definition we should apply. If a neighbor harvests his
    total 5 acres and replants the following winter that may not in many people’s mind be considered sustainable. But from
    a feasible standpoint, (shade intolerence
    of regeneration, cost of bringing in logging equipment, and need to effect a profitable harvest to protect one’s forestry heritage investment) a final harvest of the total (small) ownership
    in necessary. This 5 acres is (most likely)part of a larger treed landscape
    and taken on a broader scale (township,
    county, state, or region) the more magnanimous definition of sustainability could apply.

    So sustainability is a belief which should be applied on a case by case
    basis depending on a myriad of factors
    including land base size. Only future circumstances will determine if the degree of conservation and timber management was sufficient to meet any
    applied definition.

    On a personal level our tree farms are managed in such a way that at any one time, you can find trees from 1 year old to 90 years old. The average age over
    the entire acreage is probably 26 to 28 years…..which represents just over 1/2 the crop rotation life of the dominant tree species.

  3. A final caveat to my sustainability statement. Our tree farms are managed
    to maintain 90 plus percent forest stocking at all times. Landings, wildlife food plots, bogs/marshes, and steep ground prevent total tree coverage.

    Harvested sites (final harvests) are replanted within 10 months of harvest.

  4. Forests produce a multitude of products and a special environment for Man, animals, and vegetation to thrive. Sustainable Forestry means maintaining an environment that forests need in order to continue production of Forest Products and the ‘special’ environment.

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