A Long Term Approach to Forest Management
A position paper for Local Wood WORKS from the Kennebec Land Trust and The Nature Conservancy.
Local Wood WORKS - Primary Goals
Ø Maintain and enhance our region’s forested landscape
Ø Support and encourage landowners to develop long-term, multi-generational approaches to caring for and improving their woodlands
Ø Support local wood products users and manufacturers, as well as regional forest-based economies, and the communities that depend on them
Ø Permanently conserve large blocks of forestland to help mitigate climate change and to sustain and restore important habitats for a broad suite of native plants, animals, and other biota (these lands could be managed timberlands, multi-use forests, or wildlands)
Local Wood WORKS – Sustainable Forest Management Principles
In New England, people’s livelihoods and quality of life rely on the forest to provide a wide range of benefits, from wood products, to recreational opportunities, to essential ecosystem services. Local Wood WORKS partners believe that this reliance will continue for generations to come. Forest-based communities and landscapes will depend on sustainable forest management approaches, broadly applied, as well as private and public conservation strategies, to continue to derive these economic, social, and environmental benefits long into the future.
At the most basic level, sustainable forestry means harvesting no more than is growing, over a defined period of time, or not impairing the continual ability of the forest to provide forest products. However additional considerations should be incorporated into sustainable forestry plans to more fully address the other significant values that forests provide. As owners and managers of forestland in Maine, the Kennebec Land Trust (KLT) and the Nature Conservancy (TNC) have defined a broad set of sustainable forestry principles and indicators for Local Wood WORKS. We support forest management practices that:
Ø Incorporate a long-term view of forest management in planning and practice;
Ø Improve forest stands over time in terms of the quality and quantity of forest products available;
Ø Promote the growth of older forests, and higher value large diameter trees;
Ø Protect forest soils, including soil microbiota, structure, root systems, and overall productivity;
Ø Protect streams, wetlands, ponds, and other aquatic habitats; and water quality;
Ø Retain and enhance habitat for the full range of native wildlife across the landscape;
Ø Enhance the well-being of people and communities;
Ø Consider the immediate and long-term impacts of invasive insects, diseases, and plants;
Ø Consider the important roles of forests and forest products in sequestering carbon.
LWW is made possible by the generous support of the Elmina B. Sewall Foundation.
INDICATORS OF SUSTAINABLE FORESTRY
There are a wide variety of management strategies and practices that landowners can undertake that support LWW’s goals.*
Process indicators of sustainable forestry:
Ø Woodland owners have easy access to resources, information, and technical assistance in making decisions about their woodlands
Ø A robust array of communications, educational events, demonstration forests and other resources supports information sharing and networking among landowners, foresters, loggers, wood users, conservationists, and community members
Ø Woodland owners undertake long-range, comprehensive forest management planning with professional assistance, and update plans as appropriate
Ø Woodland management activities involve responsible, licensed foresters and skilled practioners/ loggers
Ø Harvesting occurs based on silviculturally grounded, well-communicated, stand level prescriptions
Ø Harvests are conducted after sufficient operational planning and layout, using appropriate equipment to provide the greatest likelihood of desired results
Ø Forest products are utilized to maximize their value by seeking appropriate, and wherever possible, local, markets and users
Operational indicators of sustainable harvest outcomes:
Ø Minimal disturbance to forest soils and root systems
Ø Minimal impact to stream channels, wetlands, riparian areas, and larger water bodies
Ø Limited damage to residual trees and desirable seedlings/sprouts
Ø Access systems, including log landings, forest roads, trails, stream/wetland crossings that are adequately designed, constructed and maintained using Best Management Practices
Ø Retention of biological legacies and habitat elements, including abundant coarse woody debris, snags, den trees, and very large trees, individually and in unharvested patches or groups
Ø Silvicultural systems that develop complex, variable forest structures, and native species composition, using primarily individual tree to small patch (0.1-2.0 acres) harvesting and long rotations.
Ø Application of intermediate treatments, especially thinning of quality growing stock, as well as measures to secure desirable regeneration.
Ø Limited harvesting for extended periods, in retention areas and in stands where forest processes are recovering from past land use practices and/or harvests.
*The following certification and forest management programs are based on specific criteria:
LOCAL WOOD WORKS – CONTEXT
The Local Wood WORKS initiative, founded in 2013, includes seven partner organizations: Kennebec Land Trust, Maine Forest Service (MFS), Coastal Enterprises, Inc, Maine Coast Heritage Trust (MCHT), The Nature Conservancy (TNC), GrowSmart Maine, and Northern Forest Center (NFC).
LWW partners are committed to advancing forest-based local economies and supporting the long-term conservation and sustainability of Maine’s woodlands. LWW supports projects that link forestland conservation, energy conservation, and sustainable natural-resource-based local economies.
LWW partners recognize that today, the price paid for wood products does not account for the social and ecological impacts of timber harvesting at distant (unknown to the consumer) harvest sites, or for the environmental consequences of long-distance transportation of consumer products. We believe that an assessment of the potential for regional and local wood markets would provide an opportunity to examine this issue in light of current global climate change impacts.
Ideas that inform LWW initiatives:
Ø New England’s forests protect water, soil, and wildlife resources, support wood products and tourism economies, provide many recreational opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts, and mitigate climate change by sequestering carbon.
Ø Our region’s forestland is changing parcel by parcel with the decisions of individual landowners.
Ø The primary threats to woodlands in the northeast are increasing fragmentation and the permanent conversion of forestland to commercial and residential development.
Ø Forestland owners have many opportunities to advance the long-term management, stewardship, and conservation of their lands. These values, deeply rooted in New England, will help sustain a quality of life that has long defined the northeast.
Ø Recent trends suggest that many people are interested in where their food comes from, evidenced in the increased popularity of farmers’ and local foods markets. It is possible that a similar market structure for local wood products can again be viable.
Ø While promoting sustainable forestry, we recognize that sustainable agriculture is also an essential part of the local economy. Especially given New England’s rich farming history and the resurgence of local farms in recent decades, some conversion of forest to sustainable farming is appropriate within the context of a predominantly forested landscape.
Ø Local wood products markets can connect and engage residents with timber harvesting and processing in their communities, and simultaneously promote forestland conservation and the appropriate designation of ecological reserves. These economies and relationships present opportunities for consumers to come to terms with the relationship between personal consumption patterns and timber harvesting.
Ø Local wood markets have the potential to foster community relationships between consumers and forestland owners, loggers, and wood processors.
Thank you for taking the time to review and comment on this paper: Mark Berry TNC; Ken Laustsen; Lloyd Irland; Kirsten Brewer and Sue Bell, Kennebec Land Trust; and Lee Burnett, Local Wood WORKS.
Theresa Kerchner, Kennebec Land Trust and Tom Abello, The Nature Conservany - Local Wood WORKS