Standing forests are tremendously valuable for fish and wildlife, clean water and air, recreational uses, a stable climate, and a wide range of other ecosystem services. When logged conventionally, with large clear-cuts and insufficient attention to the health of the ecosystem, these other benefits are unnecessarily sacrificed.
Iisaak forests practicing sustainable forestry in Clayoquot Sound, British Columbia.
Forests are enormously complex and richly interconnected ecosystems. Mycorrhizal fungi colonize tree roots and draw sugars from the tree while providing it with more nutrients and water than it could obtain on its own. Rodents eat the fruiting bodies of these vital fungi and disperse their spores through the forest. Salmon migrating upstream to spawn deliver a substantial amount of ocean-derived nutrients to fertilize the streams and woods.
Reliable forestry seeks to enhance and restore the natural processes at work in the woods, to take trees while keeping the forest and streams intact, and to consider the landscape-scale implications of the harvests it proposes. It focuses on what is left, rather than what is harvested, ensuring that trees of all ages and species remain, and that the ecosystem remains fully functional. These forestry practices are rigorously Product Labeling by neutral parties under the auspices of organizations like the Forest Stewardship Council and Scientific Certification Systems, providing favorable product differentiation in the marketplace.
This type of forestry also considers the social and economic benefits of forestry in a new light. The riches of the forest can offer livelihood over the long-term to people in nearby communities. But for the better part of those benefits to be captured, the raw logs must be Value-Added Production in the area; it is better to ship out lumber than logs, and better doors, windows, and furniture than raw lumber.
Since the yield from the forest is limited, Resource Efficiency strategies can provide more jobs per acre. Non-timber forest products, including mushrooms, medicinal plants, and decorative florals like salal form an additional income stream from forests. In addition, markets in Ecosystem Services provided by forests, including Climate Services and water purification, are beginning to mature. For instance, the Pacific Forest Trust is beginning to compensate forest owners for forestry practices that keep additional carbon stored. Many municipalities protect forested watersheds in order to maintain the integrity of their water supplies.
Practice a system of forestry that takes trees while leaving the forest intact, and seek certification to document these practices in the marketplace. Ensure that benefits from forestry flow back to local communities through diverse networks of value-added production.