NATURAL SELECTION FOREST PRACTICES
Timber extraction can co-exist with preserving healthy forests.
The Natural Selection Alternative provides more forest products over
the long term than can be obtained through conventional harvesting
methods. At the same time other forest values are preserved rather than
wasted as with prevailing approaches to forest management.
Natural Selection principles, sometimes called “Ecostry”, preserve the
forest's structural integrity, connectivity and ecological functions,
and enhance long-term values. The forest keeps its canopy dominants,
the tallest trees. Instead we harvest trees that have recently died but
not yet fallen, or appear likely to die within the next year, such as
by getting shaded out. Thus only the weaker members are removed to
serve human needs, while retaining habitats for other species. Existing
naturally associated animals and plants continue to thrive. The forest
will appear unharmed and inviting to visitors whether they are flying
overhead or walking in the forest.
When we preserve the bigger trees, the forests stay cool and moist,
softening weather extremes, limiting damage from wildfires and
protecting lives and property. The thermal mass in large trees
moderates temperature swings. Mature forests do not accumulate the
fire-prone brush that builds up in heavily logged areas. Conventional
timber extraction makes fires more severe and more likely.
Natural Selection provides long-term local forest stewardship jobs and
products. It avoids the boom-and-bust cycles of cut-and-run operations.
It keeps local citizens in charge of decisions affecting our economic
and environmental future. This uplifts the entire region's prosperity.
Protected landscapes and stable localized economies make an area more
desirable to live in, while places that are treated harshly become
harsh places to live. Beautiful places are growing ever more valuable
as they become rarer.
The conventional forestry practice of taking away the biggest,
strongest trees has been removing them from the gene pool, reducing
future productivity. Natural Selection reverses this trend, culling
only the weakest trees, so future generations come from the best-
Forest biological and ecological health is retained, and previously
cut-over forests' health is restored. This alternative also preserves
ecotones, the transition areas where different kinds of native
Natural Selection protects air quality and maintains the natural flood
control and water filtration provided by watersheds, keeping water and
fish safe from sedimentation. These ecosystem services have been
severely reduced in the past, because they have been so under-valued.
Natural Selection preserves and enhances bio-diversity and related
values, such as responsible mushroom harvesting and pharmaceutical
prospecting. The values of mushrooms alone can exceed those of the
timber extracted. Some local mushrooms have healing properties we are
only starting to comprehend.
When all costs are considered, of delivering BLM or USFS-managed lands
to lumber companies, subsidizing formation of conventional timber
harvest jobs often costs more in taxes than the jobs themselves pay.
Natural Selection reduces tax burdens, by eliminating costs associated
with environmental and social degradation. It resolves conflicts over
forest treatment, by meeting priorities of all sides.
While providing the maximum sustainable extraction of forest products,
Natural Selection also preserves the less tangible values of mature
forests, such as promoting inspiration and inner silence, and helping
visitors reduce self-importance.
A community's economy improves dramatically when its people realize
they have something of great value nearby, and treat it responsibly so
it can be shared many times, not just used once then thrown away.
Natural Selection offers citizens in forested areas an opportunity to
bring about a much brighter and healthier future than conventional
extrapolations suggest. We don't have to be confined by others' earlier
lack of foresight.
There are tour-workshops available, of Camp Forest near Selma, Oregon,
where Orville Camp developed the modern version of Natural Selection
Forest Practices in 1967. For schedule information call 541-597-4313.
Camp’s updated book on the subject should be available in the summer of
-- Waves Forest