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The United Nations Environment Programme (UNESCO-UNEP, 1996),
in observing that the world has come to be severely impacted by human activities, calls
for social systems that promote empathy with other species, other people, and future
generations; and which support planning that minimizes threats to nature. UNEP suggests
that any definition of sustainability should address (1) lessening the impact of human
beings on the planet and (2) the means by which we use and distribute the planet's
resources. UNEP links the concept of social justice to sustainability:
...sustainable development [is] a process which requires that the use of environments
and resources by one group of people...not jeopardize the environments and well-being of
people in other parts of the world or destroy the capacities of future generations to
satisfy their reasonable needs and wants UNESCO-UNEP (1996). Connet. UNESCO-UNEP
Environmental Education Newsletter, 21 (4), UNESCO Education Sector, France, p. 2.
Applying this concept to forest management, Gordon (1997) defined sustainability
as the ability to meet production goals without "impairing the richness of the forest
and its components." If we cut more each year than the forests can replenish, then it
is easy to see why environmentalists, scientists, and economists would be concerned.
In question is how to provide for our huge appetite for wood products, yet sustain this
renewable resource for short and long-term needs. Do we simply harvest the timber and move
on--as has too often been the approach in North America? Or do we use this renewable
resource in such a way as to sustain its continued use? The following paragraph suggests
that a need for short-term profits often overrides the goal of forest sustainability.
Using its ability to direct major forest decisions, industry in recent years has
increasingly enlarged the annual cut of trees in the province. The goal of increased
revenue has been allowed to override what textbooks detail as the very soul of good
forestry, namely that the annual volume of wood cut must not exceed the annual volume
grown. This policy ensures a sustainable cut in perpetuity, hence sustains
forest-dependent jobs and communities in perpetuity. Overcutting, in contrast, is simply
mining the forest - ultimately a guarantee of job losses and communities in decay, not to
mention harm to the planet. © 1996. Edwards, Y. British Columbia.
In R. Kirk (Ed.), The Enduring Forests. Seattle: The Mountaineers, p. 129.
The following editorial appeared in the Forks Forum in Forks,
Washington, a town on the west side of the Olympic Peninsula, whose economy is based on
forest resources. Forks is in the heart of "timber country."
by George McCormick
Editor, The Forks Forum
Seems to me some environmental goals could be achieved easily
if all those who advocate not cutting down trees would also stop using wood products.
Think how many forests could be saved if only the 'no cutting' advocates would not live
in stick built homes, use wood furniture, or write their checks (wood product) and mail
them in envelopes (wood product) to environmental organizations which publish newsletters
(wood product) magazines (wood product) and news releases (wood product) sent to
newspapers (wood product) who would be out of business if they heeded those same
Can you not imagine the life style of a honest greenie living in an aluminum trailer
with plastic furniture who rises in the morning and brushes his teeth with his finger
instead of a toothbrush (wood product) who relies on news bites from television. After
having cleansed himself after a natural movement with a corn cob he drinks milk out of a
plastic bottle. The house is neat and clean because there are no paper towels, magazines,
newspapers, books, note pads or any of the normal clutter associated with a home.
Bringing home his groceries in a cloth bag which he bought at the nearest store because
the only advertising available was on that same television, he calls long distance to the
headquarters of his favorite
|environmental organization to find out
where and when the next protest is.
Ridiculous isn't it? I could go on and enumerate
many more luxuries and necessities our honest greenie would have to do without to avoid
wood products, but you get the idea.
If the goals of the extremists on both sides of the timber issue were realized we'd
either have a world without toilet paper or a world without much beauty.
The only way we're going to arrive at a reasonable answer is to ignore the shrillness
on the extremes of both sides and listen to the voices of moderation in the middle.
Timber is a sustainable resource and new ways of managing the forest are mitigating
some of the aesthetic impacts of cutting.
So it's time for moderate, reasonable views to prevail and the environmental extremists
to lose a few.
We need a cooperative effort to work together to achieve goals that will not only
produce the forests of the future, but produce the timber we need and the jobs we need.
Conservation is the answer, not preservation.
Locally the Olympic Natural Resources Center and the Forestry Training Center are big
steps in the right direction. McCormick, G. (1996, September 18).
Reason needed [Editorial]. Forks (Wa.) Forum, p. 4.
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