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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."

Reason Needed
by George McCormick
Editor, The Forks Forum
Forks, Washington

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 organizations.

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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