Today's powerpoint file

Historically, the typical approach to vegetation management has been on simplifying nature

Natural communities are not inherently simple: complex interactions drive very complex dynamics

Even monotypic stands of early-successional species are too complex for us to predict or model

Why have we tried to simplify nature?

Limitations of the human brain, and simple mgmt. objectives (max. forage for livestock or max. wood production for a growing nation)

Don't blame past vegetation managers

Food and fiber production are still (and will continue to be) a primary "use" of natural communities (population growth, @ 1.7%/year = nearly ¼ million people/day added to planet)

Public and professional perception of vegetation management are strongly influenced by:

  1. "food and fiber" production objectives have dominated management of many acres

  2. the public and even other natural resource professionals have not understood vegetation dynamics and the importance of manipulating vegetation to achieve non-production objectives

Social values are changing rapidly--faster than trees grow!

Similarly, you should try to incorporate options for future flexibility into management prescriptions ...

e.g., think about biodiversity even if it is not an objective for a specific stand

biodiversity was suddenly thrust into the spotlight, and now it is a primary focus of vegetation management

There are good reasons to increase diversity (e.g., economic and environmental benefits in the US are estimated at $300 billion/year; Pimentel et al. 1997, cited below)

There are specific steps to increase diversity in communities managed for multiple use (adapted from Burton et al. 1992, cited below):

  1. take inventory

    but don't even imagine that we can "save" everything: extinction of some species is inevitable; we can document the losses, but we can not preserve all species and continue to multiply

  2. identify several appropriate management units

    the fundamental unit of management remains the same--individual stand

  3. establish and monitor benchmarks

  4. promote diversity in artificially established stands (multiple species, and multiple genotypes within species)

  5. explore alternatives (constantly push the envelope imposed by traditional vegetation managers)

  6. reflect before acting

In addition, vegetation managers can help society set its objectives by providing clear information on tradeoffs associated with various scenarios

Blindly implementing prescriptions, without questioning the assumptions and tradeoffs, is not sufficient anymore

Administrative structures are changing to reflect changing social values

Common misconceptions are (1) that silviculture is synonymous with, and limited to, reforestation; and (2) range management is synonymous with, and limited to, livestock production

Ideally, silviculturists (forests) and range managers (rangelands) should be involved in all activities that change plant community structure ...

and so should other natural resource professionals

One goal of most mgmt efforts should be sustainable management of ecosystem processes

Producing one or a few products for human consumption should be a natural side-effect of appropriate management

This, according to most proponents, is the goal of "Ecosystem Management"--to sustain ecosystem processes, with "products" as by-products of that management

Can this work?

Ultimately, humanity must answer the question about sustainability

Additional Information (also see assigned readings):

Brown, L.R. 2003. Plan B: Rescuing a Planet Under Stress and a Civilization in Trouble. W.W. Norton, New York.

Burton, P.J., Balisky, A.C., Coward, L.P., Cumming, S.G., and Kneeshaw, D.D. 1992. The value of managing for biodiversity. Forestry Chronicle 68:225-237.

Callicott, J.B. and Mumford, K. 1997. Ecological sustainability as a conservation concept. Conservation Biology 11:32-40.

Chomsky, N. 2003. Hegemony or Survival: America's Quest for Global Dominance. Metropolitan Books, New York.

Diamond, J.M. 2005. Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. Viking, New York.

Ehrlich, P. and Ehrlich, A. 2004. One With Ninevah: Politics, Consumption, and the Human Future. Island Press, Washington, D.C.

Jensen, D. 2000. A Language Older Than Words. Chelsea Green Publishing Company, White River Junction, Vermont.

Jensen, D. 2004. Walking on Water: Reading, Writing, and Revolution. Chelsea Green Publishing Company, White River Junction, Vermont.

Mander, J. 1991. In the Absence of the Sacred: The Failure of Technology and the Survival of the Indian Nations. Sierra Club Books, San Francisco.

Mutz, K.M., G.C. Bryner, and D.S. Kenney, editors. 2002. Justice and Natural Resources: Concepts, Strategies, and Applications. Island Press, Washington, D.C.

Pimentel, D., Wilson, C., McCullum, C., Huang, R., Dwen, P., Flack, J., Tran, Q., Saltman, T., and Cliff, B. 1997. Economic and environmental benefits of biodiversity. BioScience 47:747-757.

Soros, G. 2004. The Bubble of American Supremacy: Correcting the Misuse of American Power. PublicAffairs, New York.

Comprehensive information about sustainability

Suzuki, D. and H. Dressel. 2002. Good News for a Change: How Everyday People are Helping the Planet. Greystone Books, Vancouver, B.C.

Toman, M.A. and Ashton, P.M.S. 1996. Sustainable forest ecosystems and management: a review article. Forest Science 42:366-377.

U.S. Census Bureau. World Population Information.

Uhl, C. 2004. Developing Ecological Consciousness: Path to a Sustainable World. Rowman & Littlefield, Lanham, Maryland.

Wilson, E.O. 1998. Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge. Knopf, New York.