Using Wood Is Good, Not A Choice
If We Need Forests – We Need Forestry
Forestry and natural resources are mostly forgotten endeavors in this country. We have been largely urbanized for a long time. We don’t typically consider where our “stuff” comes from. Environmental educators and naturalists have convinced many of us that “nature” is merely a playground and a source for spirituality, or solitude, or some other deficiency we’ve created for ourselves in this current society.
Forest resources certainly offer opportunities for these pursuits but they are so much more. Wood is the most environmentally-friendly raw material that we have at our disposal. So, get rid of that ignorant posting at the copy machine that says something like “use less paper and save a tree”. Trees cannot be saved. They die. They’re biological. The posting is just a way for the accountants to save a little money and appear socially acceptable in the process. Nobody is going to hell because they harvest trees within a science-based management system.
Some research suggests that an email may have greater environmental consequences (carbon, metals, social justice, etc.) than a piece of paper. So, rethink the mantra that email is friendlier. The science showing email is better is not there . . . although many of us have quit valuing science a long time ago. Feelings are more reliable than knowledge. Yeah, right.
On average, each one of us uses the equivalent of a 2x4 worth of wood every day. It’s renewable, recycleable, sometimes reusable, but more importantly . . . it’s renewable. Unless a McMansion is built on the site.
And by the way, the United States is not running out of either forests or wood, even though we’re net importers of wood. Managing forests for wood production helps keep forests as forests. Management is not a threat. It’s a solution. And it’s fun. The single biggest threat to forests is parcelization and urban splatter. It’s the yuppies moving into the forest and creating ecological and economic havoc by insisting on their little piece of Eden when they really don’t know a darn thing about forests, nature, or the outdoors. There ought to be a bazooka season on these disturbingly selfish structures.
If you don’t believe forest management is a solution to many environmental issues, then you’ve been incorrectly toilet-trained by the environmental education folks. Or the Sierra Club, which has arguably done more environmental damage than any other so-called environmental group. Certainly more damage than any forest-based industry. But that’s a long story for another time (maybe).
Forestry or forest management is the application of ecological principles to get more from a forest, for society, than what nature will provide on its own. Forests are dynamic, ever-changing, ecosystems. Not only can they be manipulated, but they must. At least if we are to survive, and survive with healthy forests. Survive? Yes, of course. We cannot live without forests – wood, water, habitat, soil, recreation, air quality, etc. History shows that civilizations removed from forest resources will perish. Expecting natural processes to supply all of our needs (and wants) is folly. Nature does what nature will do. But we can re-direct those processes to obtain more goods and services. Adding value to forests helps keep forests intact, rather than converting them to selfish rural housing, mini-parcels, or an entirely different land use altogether.
There is a mountain of misinformation and Thoreau-like poppycock that leads one to think forests should be left alone. Remember that St. Thoreau spend time in a wood cabin, writing at a wood table, on paper made from wood, and next to a fireplace burning wood. Using wood is good thing. It grows back, as long as you don’t grow more McMansions. Steel, coal, petroleum, and concrete do not grow. They take more energy to gather and process. They produce carbon that has been stored in the earth for millions of years.
If you own a forest, then consider managing it. You’ll be surprised how good that can feel, and how much you contribute to society. At least don’t complain when your neighbors see the light before you do!
Wood is good. Use it in good conscience. Use it wisely. Grow it back.