Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The Managed Forest

Today, while my wife & I drove our dogs toward a needed run on the beach, I passed a sign that read, "Managed Forest". It got me to thinking, "How does one MANAGE a forest?" Forests seem to manage themselves quite nicely...without any assistance nor hindrance from human beings. In fact, if we left them alone, I'm sure they can manage rings around us.

According to the Wikipedia,
"Management" (from Old French menagement "the art of conducting, directing", from Latin manu agere "to lead by the hand") characterises the process of leading and directing all or part of an organization, often a business, through the deployment and manipulation of resources (human, financial, material, intellectual or intangible). Early twentieth-century management writer Mary Parker Follett defined management as "the art of getting things done through people."

One can also think of management functionally, as the action of measuring a quantity on a regular basis and of adjusting some initial plan, and as the actions taken to reach one's intended goal. This applies even in situations where planning does not take place. From this perspective, there are five management functions: Planning, Organizing, Leading, Co-ordinating and Controlling.

Management is also called "Business Administration", and schools that teach management are usually called "Business Schools". The term "management" may also be used to describe the slate of managers of an organization, for example of a corporation. A governing body is a term used to describe a group formed to manage an organization, such as a sports league.
A forest is merely one facet of a complex and interdependent ecosystem. In fact, ecosystems are so complex that we mere humans seem wholly incapable of understanding them. Therefore, if we don't truly understand them, what business do we have EVEN imagining that we could manage them?

We should learn from them. They can teach us what it is to be part of the one reality.


  1. Ah, Trey, you have stumbled onto something that is full of controversy, even among those who wish the best for our ecosystems.

    I too wondered how forests got along before we humans felt the need to manage them. The problem is that most of our forests have been touched by man in one way or the other. There is very little virgin forest remaining in the USA. Most forests are replantings after they have been clearcut or otherwise logged, so they have already felt the touch of management (or mismanagement). Except in the case of fire or a rare natural calamity such as the eruption of a volcano, forests have natural cycles and progressions which have been altered by people. It is not natural for a wood to be clear-cut and then regenerated. Forests don't generally spring up all at once as is done with a replanting.

    I've come to realize that it takes some management to bring forests back to a more natural state after they have been logged. Trees haven't been allowed to grow to maturity and fall of their own accord, so the understory is not in the condition it would be in with the mature growth. The whole ecosystem is thrown off balance. An understory which would be resistant to wildfire in a mature forest is subject to fire danger in new growth with periods of drought. And then there are other problems such as erosion...

    The whole problem begins with the cutting of the first tree so that we may have building supplies and toilet paper.

  2. Great points, Rich. The first things I think of when I read the phrase "forest management" are: commerce and greed. It's not management so much as domination, exploitation, and destruction.

    This all reminds me of when I first learned what the difference between a National Park and a National Forest was.


  3. Ah Trey you are trying to be logical.

    Forest management is just corporate resource management.. its got nothing to do with helping the forest grow, its only about managing economic resource development.

    They use the term correctly.

    Don't you know pretty soon, we will be treated in the same manner: city management, human resources, etc... Look back to that forest you drove past, pretty soon our children will be farmed and managed in the same manner...

    and it feels like today is pretty that way now doesn't it?


  4. The damage we do to the ecosystem is difficult to undo. My house sits on property that was an olive grove once, then scraped to build housing. Over the years I've tried to grow native plants on my hill. It took years to get anything to take because all the soil microbes had been destroyed by the grove and the scraping of the land for housing. Finally, after 20 years, the mychorozal microbes are able to support native plants again. I suspect a lot of the problems in regenerating forest areas come from damage to the soils.

    I really shudder to think what's going to happen when we try to convert agricultural land back to organic farming practices. It's going to take a long time to rebuild soils destroyed by years of petroleum-based fertilizers... the good thing now is the cost of organic farming is becoming equivalent to the cost of farming with petroleum products, and people are learning how much better for them organic products are.

    There's hope, but it will be many, many years before many Americans are ready to think the way we do, if ever...

  5. I suppose if you are sincere in wanting to be one with the forest then you should destroy your house (providing you own it) and replant the forest that was once there - before getting destroyed to make houses and condos and apartments.

    Do away with all wood furnishing you have, since having such represents destruction of the forests. No more paper products either - unless you can verify they came from other-than-forest sources.

    As the trees and ferns grow lush where you once lived, stand and let the rain fall over you - but don't use any soap as it might harm the trees and other growth.

    Only then can you become one. Learn from the trees Trey.

  6. Shouldn't this really be called Human Interference Mitigation, not Forest Management?

  7. Forests seem to manage themselves quite nicely...without any assistance nor hindrance from human beings.

    While this may be true in the manner that you intend, human beings are an essential part of the forest ecosystem and always have been, though our materialistic ways have made us forget this.

    Who else can transplant saplings when they sprout too close to one another or will be shaded out by their larger cousins? Something that the American Indians and many Indigenous cultures did and still do, in fact it is probably a safe bet that there really is no such thing as "virgin" old-growth forest as the hand of man has been active in forming such throughout the centuries.

    They can teach us what it is to be part of the one reality.

    Now this I agree with, nature can and often does teach us about ourselves and reality.

  8. There's clearly a pattern at work. Mess things up through overpopulation and human activity; bring it to the point of crisis; and event a technological solution that brings further problems in its wake. We truly need a Lao-zi in this modern world to introduce some rationality into this whole thought process. Nature, in a more perfect world, can be tremendously bountiful, providing benefits that don't require us to pulverize entire mountains to get at the energy stored underneath. I know it sounds ridiculous but we already have access to wonderful self-replicating solar-energy devices all around us. They're called plants. We have solar heating. It's called sunshine. I'm not a complete luddite but I do think we need to rethink the efficiency of our solutions and the longterm trends implied in development.


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