Draft Animal Power – Draft animals and sustainable land stewardship › Forums › Sustainable Living and Land use › Sustainable Forestry › Working with Foresters?
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- February 18, 2008 at 8:55 pm #39462AnonymousInactive
I’m wondering how many of y’all work with foresters, if at all, and what your experiences have been. The lack of real connections between horse loggers and foresters seems to be a definite obstacle to legitimizing the work we do. Jim referenced this in his response to my Intro.
When I was logging, I was on the mailing list of a couple private consultant foresters, they would send me timber sales they thought I might be appropriate for, but I never thought I could make a winning bid and make a living at the same time harvesting the typically degraded stands (more on that in the thread on economics). I was referred to a couple jobs to talk to landowners individually, but those didn’t pan out for various reasons. But overall, I pretty much got the cold shoulder. So I basically became a forestry consultant myself, and that became a valuable part of my business. When I could talk to the landowner and describe how their woods had gotten to that point, their financial expectations came down, and some were willing to pay for quality “worst-first” management/Timber Stand Improvement to achieve their goals.
My experience in NW Wisconsin was that consultant foresters are pretty attached to the lump sum bid, which doesn’t value the quality of work. Understandably, they’re trying to protect the interests of their client-the landowner. But I think that many foresters are missing that their client’s interests might lie somewhere other than in the higher stumpage payment.
I know that one response is to do as I did when I was logging, just advise the landowner on forest management yourself. But if we actually do get more people logging with draft power, not everybody is going to be good at forest management, and you can’t make the blanket statement that all horse-logging is good management. Seems like the relationship with foresters has to be nurtured at some point.
Thoughts?February 18, 2008 at 9:13 pm #45756CRTreeDudeParticipant
By law done here you have to use a forestry engineer to mark the trees – no trees are to be cut without documentation with MINAE.
But, the forestry engineers are dictated by MINAE as in what kind of trees can be cut and what will be the result to the land afterwards. It seems to be working. Slowly but surely people are learning how to manage the land – and if they don’t, MINAE will ensure they do.February 18, 2008 at 10:02 pm #45752
I agree with much of your premise. I will however throw out that it is time that we encourage horse loggers to gain the skills to provide the best forest management principles. We are low production operations therefore we have an excellent opportunity to advance quality as a standard. I too have brought forestry management to my horse-logging. I found it to be an appropriate way to promote forest improvement as the primary product, and to tell you the truth, there are some foresters out there who value good forestry, but I see little value in trying to cultivate relationships with anyone who has to be convinced that an improved stand is more important than a high stumpage check. There are too many compromises in standard silviculture in the name of short-term economics. In the first chapter of Smiths Silviculture book (the standard at many of our finest universities) he explains that ecological and economic goals do not mutually support each other, and that his book is written with economic objectives in mind.
We need to make sure that someday we CAN say all horse logging is good logging. What have we got to lose??? CarlFebruary 19, 2008 at 12:42 pm #45750Gabe AyersKeymaster
Luke, since you use the southern y’all word, I definitely have some thoughts about this question.
My thoughts come from the 30 years experience of being a forester and working for several foresters over those years. Notice the “for” instead of “with” choice of words.
There are some good foresters in this world, but not many. Probably about as many as “good” politicians. On that note I suggest any forester that wants to be in the company of good foresters, look into the Forest Guild as an alternative to the Society of American Foresters.
If “Foresters” had the answer to what is sustainable forestry then no one would be asking the question, because we would already be practicing it. Foresters have directed the general management strategy over the last fifty years or so (at least on Industrial and Publicly owned land) or at least had an opportunity to influence the management through example and simply haven’t gotten the job done from an actual “growing the forest” perspective. They simply serve the forest products industries need for cheap cellulose (wood pimps?). Again this is a generalization and there are individuals that have practiced great forestry as foresters and they have been an inspiration to me and the small number of folks actually interested in being “restorative and therefore sustainable”. Two that come to mind are Clint Trammel formerly of Pioneer Forest in Missouri and Marshall Pecore of Menominee Forest in Wisconsin. They both prescribe worst first single tree selection, except in rare settings of mostly even aged natural monoculture stands, like the school house white pine site on Menominee.
I understand how foresters are run through a gauntlet of testing which is essentially brainwashing to prescribe even aged management to correct previous high grading as mentioned in an earlier post. I hear this from young alternatively minded forestry students currently in school.
But back to the premise of the question. Yes we need to work “with” foresters if we can. It is a challenge, because most foresters work on an percentage of stumpage basis and there isn’t enough volume or value from a restorative harvest to pay a share to everyone involved when you leave the best trees to grow as old as possible. Yet the sharecrop model is rejected by most foresters and comments are made that it leads to high grading. Meanwhile it is common for foresters to prescribe a diameter limit cut which is just another way of describing a high grade and has the same degrading effect upon the forested conditions.
So we have developed our approach to be somewhere in the middle. There is no doubt that just being a horse logger doesn’t make your forestry good. It may make your extraction low impact, but good forestry is about more that extraction. Good forestry is about good silviculture, or the science of growing trees. Modern conventional forestry is about harvesting trees cheaply, not about growing trees as a part of an interdependent ecosystem that is a living system of organisms where trees are the dominants species but are not unconnected from all the life around them. I don’t know who made the statement about “Not seeing the forest for the trees” but somehow I suspect it was not a forester, although it should have been. Maybe an ecologist said that. Does anyone know where that statement came from? In that euphemism is much truth and vision.
I actually met David Smith many years ago at the Seven American Forest Congress in DC. (That is a big forestry event that started when John Muir met with Teddy Roosevelt and the National Forest system was established.) When I asked him about “uneven aged management through single tree selection” he said it was commercially not practical. That quote was from his text book Carl mentioned. The next sentence said something like this was the best method to preserve the aesthetic beauty of the forest but was not economically gainful. I submit that the times have changed and the values of the smaller landowner’s demand a different approach to forest management. I submit that if what is good for the ecology is good for the economy, particularly given new information or perspective about the forests contribution to ecological services and our best attempt at serving planetary health.
Our approach does attempt to upgrade the education of the ground level workers to understand the benefits of restorative forestry. It differentiates the Biological Woodmen from the horse logger or mechanized logger as a way of changing the system from the bottom up. The main difference is that it promotes a sense of community and ownership of the future forest by creating a workforce that is superior in the practice of “restorative forestry”.
The only way you can get a forest products harvester to leave the best trees is to give the a sense of ownership in the future conditions of the forest. We attempt to define that through management agreements that link future harvest to the current harvester and use the non-profit as the link to that future forest. But instead of only relying upon legal documents we prefer to rely on what my mentor Charlie Fisher did by proving that he was the best at the work. That is a cultural value and empowerment of the ground level workers through education and ethics. It is a challenge but one we find to be more community based than trying to get foresters to work “with” us to accomplish this goal of forest restoration. We do have a couple of foresters that understand our approach and send us bids also on jobs that are within our standards, but they are even more rare than Biological Woodsmen in Virgina. Usually the jobs are to distant for one of our practitioners to take it on.
Another important statistic is that over 70 percent of the logging jobs conducted in Virginia are a matter of a logger and a landowner shaking hands and the degrading starts. This is not a good approach. Both parties are short sighted in their participation in such a process. I often wonder if either one really knows what they are doing in the big picture or long term perspective.
I doubt it. If they do, I don’t know how they live with themselves? I understand how the schools teach the foresters that there job is to protect the landowner from the evil logger, but they could do a much better job than making the logger accountable for the short term economics and BMP’s.
This is a very complex and worthy set of issues that we may continue to discuss on this tiny forum.
Thanks for being here Luke.
PS – I would be happy to work with a forester that could sharpen a chainsaw and drive a pair of horses as well as Carl and probably you.February 19, 2008 at 1:10 pm #45755Rick AlgerParticipant
I get about half my work from foresters, and I’m comfortable with this relationship. That’s not to say there aren’t plenty of the old school industrial foresters around who scoff at horse logging. But I’ve been able to connect with some guys who value the ecosystem and value what horselogging can do. I don’t make big money working with them, but the work is long-term and flexible enough so that if a lucrative private job comes along, I can relocate and then return.February 21, 2008 at 10:55 am #45753Biological Woodsman;889 wrote:My thoughts come from the 30 years experience of being a forester…
…There are some good foresters in this world, but not many…..
….look into the Forest Guild as an alternative to the Society of American Foresters…..
…..If “Foresters” had the answer to what is sustainable forestry then no one would be asking the question, because we would already be practicing it…..
…. Again this is a generalization and there are individuals that have practiced great forestry….
…..Our approach does attempt to upgrade the education of the ground level workers to understand the benefits of restorative forestry. It differentiates the Biological Woodmen from the horse logger or mechanized logger as a way of changing the system from the bottom up. The main difference is that it promotes a sense of community and ownership of the future forest by creating a workforce that is superior in the practice of “restorative forestry”….
…This is a very complex and worthy set of issues that we may continue to discuss on this tiny forum…..
…. I would be happy to work with a forester that could sharpen a chainsaw and drive a pair of horses as well as Carl and probably you….
Right on Brother,
I’ve got to correct my last statement, I actually brought horse-logging to my forestry. It was obvious to me even in school that forestry had to be about an ecological process, and about responsibility. It was also obvious that we were being spoon fed industrial rationalizations for the principles that were being promoted.
As you have mentioned, I too have met several “farmers” who have done superb work in their forests, because they took responsibility for their choices.
I never liked the idea of administering management and harvest for someone else. It is very difficult and costly, and it creates a barrier so that the administrator can shift responsibility onto the market, or the operator, or even the landowner.
I would much rather sharpen my saw, than clean my paint-gun.
I am appalled by the countless properties that I have visited, having several harvests, under management by locally renowned foresters, with nothing to show for it, the exact composition and stand structure that they had thirty years ago. This is forestry?????
This may be a tiny forum, and it may be several years before we can pass each other on a skid trail, but this is where the truth is.
You know it, I know it, and so many others here know it!!! We just take the time now to connect the dots.
Any person who can see the forest around the trees, can understand what we are talking about. The industry still provides the finances, but they have no business controlling the resource, or the educational opportunities.
A comment to Luke! Obviously you must have friendly relations with the people you are studying with, but feel good about taking this chance to advance your clear understanding, so that your vision will be the resource that it is. There are several of us out here cheering you on.
By the way, I alienated many of my fellow forestry students by rejecting the Society from the get-go. Never been a “Belonger”. The Forest Guild has a much better perspective, and has gone a long way toward facilitating a change in business as usual.
CarlFebruary 25, 2008 at 7:48 pm #45757AnonymousInactive
@Carl Russell 882 wrote:
There are too many compromises in standard silviculture in the name of short-term economics. In the first chapter of Smiths Silviculture book (the standard at many of our finest universities) he explains that ecological and economic goals do not mutually support each other, and that his book is written with economic objectives in mind.Carl
In (muted) defense of today’s standard silviculture…I must say that the tone in Smith’s textbook on Silviculture is much as Carl describes. But Smith wasn’t even on the list of alternative silviculture texts in my Silviculture class. Times are changing, with the “advent” of “ecosystem management” which has become the catch phrase for resource managers. Nyland’s “Silviculture; Concepts and Applications, 2nd ed.” was the required text and takes a different tone, I think. In introducing the philosophy behind the book, Nyland says it “…promotes the notion that through creative planning, foresters can address a wide array of commodity and nonmarket interests and opportunities whil maintaining dynamic and resilient forests.” Nyland justifies the need for this second edition by saying it “puts a new emphasis on the application of silviculture in addressing the nonmarket and ecosystem values that forests provide and promise.” Nyland’s intro also says, “foresters must use creativity and imagination.”
That last bit, I think, is the key. Of course, the coursework ends up being alot of the nuts and bolts of silviculture, and its up to the student to think critically and apply the knowledge. Stocking charts are only a tool, they ain’t the bible, and generally, they tell you what you already know from looking at a stand with an experienced eye. But understanding the basics is important, just like the depth of your rakers, or the fit of your horse’s collar are important. So I think its important for horseloggers not to demonize the forestry profession, in the same way that foresters need to open their eyes to the opportunities presented by draft-powered management on smaller forest stands.
The disconnect is that harvest operations like horse-logging are not even on the radar screen here. That will take a while, and diligent efforts like HHFF and this forum to spread knowledge and proficiency. Really, the education system (at least in my experience here at UW) is doing a better job of teaching ecosystem management principles. They just aren’t very creative at teaching solutions. Thats our job, to present horselogging as a viable solution.
And as I read back what I’ve said here, its a little rah-rah. But at the same, time, I think there might be some changing of the guard in the coming years. What has happened with food and farming could happen in forest management down the road, just due to the challenges of forest ownership patterns. I mean, my friend who runs a organic CSA was down here in January teaching his methods at the University. Who would have thought the land-grant schools would be doing that 25 years ago?
Its all a process. Sure, there are plenty of whackem-n-stackem foresters. We just need find some of the more sensible ones in the field, and do a little crop forester release, and get em on board.February 26, 2008 at 10:12 am #45754
You know I knew a young woman once who started dating a man (married), because “he said all the right things”.
Everyone has to make their best judgment, and find the mentors and educational opportunities, but the truth of the matter is that the industry has had their claws into forestry for way too long to step back easily. They have heard “ecology” and “sustainability”, and they know that these “words” need to be incorporated into their advertising and mission statements. They also have an incredibly tenacious hold on universities as well. Just be true to your own clear vision, and use the opportunity wisely, but beware the “green-wash”, because it swirls all around us.
My admonition of institutional forestry is not a default promotion of horse-logging. As horse-loggers we have challenges to become proficient, professional, proactive, with or without the forestry community.
I personally see horse power as the only sustainable power for land-use. This is not good or bad forestry, or farming, it is just simple math. For me animal husbandry, and working with animals also bring emotional and creative fulfillment to the work I do.
These things do not mean that horse-logging is by itself economically viable, or even environmentally sound. These are objectives and strategies that individuals need to bring to their own operation.
However, trying to work with the institutional/industrial forestry community to bring about an embrace of these principles will not be nearly as effective as encouraging educated, capable, creative, self assured, self motivated, community-minded people to follow their own initiative and instinct about sustainable forestry and timber harvest using draft animals.
CarlFebruary 26, 2008 at 3:36 pm #45758AnonymousInactive
@Carl Russell 983 wrote:
My admonition of institutional forestry is not a default promotion of horse-logging. As horse-loggers we have challenges to become proficient, professional, proactive, with or without the forestry community.Carl
This, along with the entirety of your response is eloquent and succinct, Carl. You are doing an admirable job of advancing the craft through this forum, as are organizations like HHFF. I only wanted to make sure draft powered loggers don’t get carried away making claims they can’t back up. I also genuinely wanted to know if anyone had found better luck than I did in working with foresters, either governmental or consulting.
Thanks for your thoughts, many of which I have had while squirming in a forestry classroom in the last couple years.February 26, 2008 at 4:42 pm #45751Gabe AyersKeymaster
What kind of claims are animal powered loggers making…that they can’t back up?
We have to deal with ethical issues with some (a very few) horse loggers all the time. It is a challenge…..February 26, 2008 at 5:25 pm #45759AnonymousInactive
I think that there comes a point where this format has its limitations and can’t capture the complexity of one’s thought process the way a real conversation can. That said, I have been very satisfied with your responses, and agree with as much of what you’ve said as anyone else reading. You aren’t making unfounded claims, and thats why I think this is a great place for people to look for information.
I think being at a University in the belly of the beast puts a slant on the way I think about things. Its unavoidable. I just wanted to know what various horse loggers’ experiences are working with foresters, in the context of having sat through forestry classes and realizing that we’re not even on the radar screen. I’m looking for opportunities that would make the business easier, and not butting heads with foresters every once in a while sure would help and might have made my life alot easier as far as getting work and educating landowners about the benefits of horse-logging. Carl may be right in saying that its more productive to do it on your own than butt your head against a wall trying to convince the establishment (I’m only paraphrasing here, again, the limits of the format.)
My cautionary tone has been largely proven moot by both your and Carl’s responses, which are level-headed and proactive. I could question specifics like whether we really can better mimic catostrophic disturbances through horse logging, but thats beside the point. I’ve been to the Menomonee Indian Forest (which you’ve referenced as good management) and seen the 40 acre clearcuts that make regeneration of white pine possible and I was pretty sure they weren’t gonna do it with horses and oxen. But again, thats beside the point. There is, literally, millions of acres where horse logging would be the most efficient method of management, and I’m just looking for continued dialogue on ways to make more of it happen.
I’m still interested in thoughts from more horseloggers out there, too.
-LukeMay 30, 2008 at 2:42 am #45760
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