SW Community Forestry Caucus


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"It is time for the majority to take back control of the nation's resources and demand that scientific knowledge be applied to managing forests for the qualities Americans value. Our forest ecosystems are complex, but it is obvious to me that our current legal/social situation is even more complex. I can, however, see that the power to make decisions has been taken from the majority (voters) and put in the hands of a few. The laws under which we work have, I believe, inadvertently placed the most power over what is done (or not done) on public lands in the hands of a few who oppose active management. Those who have grabbed control are using the courts and various laws, particularly the Endangered Species Act, as tools to advance their agendas. There seems to be little connection between scientific knowledge of forest ecosystems and many of the decisions being made through the courts today."

-Marlin Johnson, Combining Social and Ecological Needs on Forest Lands in the United States : A Global Perspective: Much of this paper was originally presented as The Role of Wood Removals in Sustainable Forest Management in the United States : The Contribution of Federal Lands. The authors were Marlin Johnson, Dr. Hal Salwasser, and Barry Bollenbacher, IUFRO Conference in Malaysia , August 2000.

"Just as there is a broad range of eco-system conditions within the dynamics of a given ecosystem, ((you can be anywhere from a pioneer successional stage to a seral stage in the same ecosystem, and they are all valid stages) likewise you can go into sivilculture and you can say we could leave it at this density, or this density, or this density, or this density! And there are trade-offs."

-Al Hendricks , Arizona Department of Fire and Aviation Management, April 28, 2004.

Research on restoration ecology has contributed significantly to FCSFP activities; whether directly or indirectly by FCSFP partners or others involved in community restoration. However, as the excerpted material here shows, the process of forest restoration is fraught with difficulties. Despite the determination of those who value its potential, they are faced with many challenges to realize their vision and their goals.

There is not one simple prescription that will work for the majority of ecosystems in the Southwest. It depends on what the particular stand of trees looks like, how it is composed, what the restoration goals are, and often times what competing values for a given forest are at the discussion table. Even though one might think that the science of ecology might give us a clear scientific answer about forest restoration, it is rational after all, the current state of understanding and the complexity of perspectives, do not allow this to happen. As Al Hendricks said, "Restoration is a $500.00 word."

Fire regimes, stand structures, silvicultural prescription development, ecological monitoring, and documentation are important components of the science and practice of restoration forestry. To be effective, scientific observation and learning must rely on sharing of information and new knowledge, from the researcher to the forest-thinning operator, to stakeholders and general public in a timely manner. Restoration forestry is characterized by two major activities: developing, applying, testing prescriptions and harvesting methods; and scientific monitoring that ultimately guides restoration and building of an infrastructure for economic revitalization, allowing both to adapt to new information (Johnson 1996).

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