Sustainable forestry and sustainable forestry management are part of the much larger concept of sustainable development. Sustainable Development was defined in 1987 in the World Commission on Environment and Development report (also known as the Brundtland report) as “meeting the needs of the present, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Sustainable forestry means that forests are manage in such a way that they are sustainable and can meet our demands for wood, paper, furniture and other items.
Dr. Hamish Kimmins of the University of British Columbia in his publication “Balancing Act” has defined the four stages which are gone through to reach sustainable forestry management.
Stage 1 :
Stage 1 : is the unregulated exploitation of forests, when people seek to meet their own basic needs, for wood for fuel and construction. They tend to fell trees randomly, although they choose the best and strongest specimens to fell. This means that the forest contains only young trees or poor specimens, which may not thrive for any years. This stage still exists in some still-developing countries and cannot be overcome without educating people in the local communities about the importance of sustainability in forestry.
Unfortunately when the West finds a need for a new drug, or an ingredient for a health supplement, local people will fell trees and harvest other plants to fill this market demand and earn more money than they could by farming. When taxol, which could be used in drug treatments for cancer, was found in the Pacific yew, the trees were harvested almost to the point of extinction. Now attention has been turned to the Himalayan yew and there are fears that market forces and practices which show no regard for sustainability in forestry will result in its becoming at best, endangered.
Stage 2 :
Stage 2 : if regulated forest exploitation where there is some management of the natural resources, and certain trees may be felled while others are not ear-marked for felling perhaps because they have not grown to maturity. This is the first step towards sustainability in forestry.
Stage 3 :
Stage 3 : is defined as ecology based forestry where sustainable forestry management takes account of the needs of the wildlife that live in the forest, as well as the needs of the population. However this is not yet total sustainable forestry management.
Stage 4 :
Stage 4 : is sustainable forestry, and this includes conserving and preserving wildernesses while allowing people to enjoy the beauty of the trees, other flora and the wildlife that has the forest for a home. It takes into account the biodiversity of the woodland and seeks to maintain a stable environment.
Wood, unlike fossil fuels is a sustainable resource, but the public need to be educated so that when they are offered a choice between buying a product which has been certified by one of the Councils or Associations set up after 1987 and the Brundtland report; proving that the item they are about to buy has been made from sustainable forestry practices.
Sustainable forestry management involves having an initial inventory taken by a forestry professional so that all species of trees are documented. A management plan can then be set up so that not only can the goals of the landowner be realized, but also a kind of “social forestry” element can be achieved. This can only be achieved with a strong economy and a local community that understands the importance of sustainable forestry management.
If we are to conserve out natural woodlands and provide for future generations there needs to be sustainable development including sustainable forestry management across the world and this will mean raising public awareness through educational programs to prevent our natural heritage being destroyed to meet personal needs.