I have been following Fred's posts on sustainable forestry (links here and here)the past week or so, so when I say a link to the following on The Appalachian Voice Front Porch Blog it forced me to follow the story...to Greensboro, North Carolina. Eric Schaefer wrote the story for the News & Record there.
"Why not selectively cut?" I asked, "That way you leave the canopy at least partially intact and preserve some of the integrity of the forest as well as its beauty. There is not too much uglier than a fresh clear-cut."
They explained to me that the problem was twofold: First, to a timber company, selective cutting means taking out the most desirable trees and leaving behind crooked trees or species that aren't marketable. If you go that route, what you're going to have left is a forest that is never going to produce marketable trees. Second, it is expensive and sometimes impossible to find someone to selectively cut.
Part of the job of the Forest Service is to produce forest management plans for private land owners, and Tate and Gibson told me they would gladly come up with any kind of plan the land owner wanted. If a land owner wanted forest that would be attractive to warblers and not cowbirds, woodpeckers and not starlings, trout lilies and not dandelions, they could do that, but if you want to have your land assessed as forest you have to have a timber production plan. And since they can't recommend selective cutting because of the consequences for the future timber production, you must clear-cut to get a forest assessment.
A forest assessment, similar to an agricultural assessment, means that the land in question is assessed differently than residential property and can mean big tax savings. If farmers were assessed the same as other land owners, many of them would go out of business. So to ensure we don't lose our farms, farmland is assessed differently and the same is true for forest land. However, you must be actively engaged in farming or forestry to get these assessments, and what that essentially means for forest land is periodic clear-cutting.
As you can read from the story, it's easier for the lumber companies therefore
- the Forest Service won't recommend any other form of timber management.
- without the Forest Service timber management you don't get a forest assessment.
- without the forest assessment you don't get the lower tax rate.
What's wrong with this picture? Essentially, the Forest Service is forcing landowners to have their forest clearcut. Go read the article...From here it looks like another holdover from the turn of the past century is still making it easy to strip the resources off the earth... This whole story reinforces what the Healing Harvest Forest Foundation is trying to do.
To first take out the injured and dying trees, the introduced species making room for the more valued trees to grow. And doing it in a way that doesn't destroy what you leave is the very essence of sustainable. It just takes time and above all patience.