1st Annual Charles Newlon Forestry Forum

To watch the video from the event, continue reading. (Video taken by Paw Media, LLC)

Held on the evening of Friday, October 20, 2017.  Duke Farms, Hillsborough, NJ.  For a copy of the event program, click here.

Featured speaker: Dr. Jerry Franklin, Professor of Ecosystem Analysis, College of Forest Resources, University of Washington

“The Promise of Ecological Forest Management and the False Dichotomy of ‘Preserves or Plantations'”

About Dr. Franklin: Dr. Franklin is recognized as “one of the country’s leading authorities on sustainable forest management” (Pinchot Institute for Conservation), the “guru of old-growth forests” (Heinz Family Foundation), and is “renowned in the field of ecology for applying forestry research to management, challenging clear-cutting practices to mold a ‘new forestry’ in the later 20th century attuned to healthy forest ecosystems” (Ecological Society of America).  By bringing a true authority such as Dr. Franklin to New Jersey, we elevate the public discourse regarding forestry.

Watch the event now:

Welcoming remarks (by Steve Kallesser, Chair, NJ Division, Allegheny SAF)

Introduction of Dr. Franklin (by Bob Williams, Pine Creek Forestry, LLC)

Featured speaker (Dr. Jerry Franklin, University of Washington)

  • 0:00 – Introduction & the challenges of writing the book “Ecological Forest Management”
  • 4:00 – The revolution in understanding forest ecosystems over the last 60 years
  • 10:29 – The revolution in engaging the public in forest management
  • 16:00 – What non-industrial private forest landowners want
  • 18:07 – The basic premise of ecological forestry
  • 20:05 – What is an ecosystem?
  • 25:47 – Disturbance and forest dynamics
  • 34:24 – Silviculture and the continuity of biological legacies
  • 37:17 – Landscape-scale management and the failure of “preserves”
  • 42:00 – Economics, and using the restoration process to create funding sources
  • 45:10 – The importance of active management, esp. in the face of climate change
  • 49:35 – Not conceiving and demonstrating alternatives to plantations or preserves: a failure of the forestry profession and conservation biologists
  • 53:30 – The contribution of individual foresters towards changing the profession

Questions and answers

Dr. Jerry Franklin (r) shares a moment with Charlie and Barbara Newlon (l). Photo by Steve Kallesser

Synopsis: “Renowned Ecologist Calls for Active Management Across Landscapes”

At a recent forum sponsored by The Good Stewards Coalition, renowned ecologist Dr. Jerry Franklin of the University of Washington called for better management of forests using Ecological Forest Management.  Ecological Forest Management, as championed by Dr. Franklin involves recreating or mimicking natural disturbances at intensities and patterns appropriate to the landscape.  It also involves balancing objectives so that a single objective (economic return, forest fire fuels reduction, or rare plant habitat) does not overwhelm other objectives (producing clean water, creating wildlife habitat, providing clean air, conserving soils, and providing a place for recreation) “…and more than anything, managing [forests] to sustain their basic integrity,” said Dr. Franklin.  “It doesn’t mean that you leave them alone.  It does mean that you recognize the complexity and the richness — and you keep that integrity, so that those systems retain all of those functional capacities that are so important to us.” (18:39)

Dr. Franklin is best known for his study — and advocacy for the conservation of — old-growth forests.  Most of the identification of the characteristics of old-growth forests — and even the vocabulary of how conservationists talk about old-growth forests — came from his pioneering work as a researcher within the USDA Forest Service.  While still deeply passionate about old-growth, Dr. Franklin has also studied and advocated for forests at the other end of the spectrum: young forests.  Once thought of simply as weedy areas, ecologists have rediscovered their value in recent decades “…and Mt. St. Helens really helped us to understand this.”  Dr. Franklin went on to say that the earliest part of the young forest stage “is the most biologically rich period in a forest landscape.  It has a lot of habitat specialists — songbirds, butterflies, moths, beetles — that depend upon that because it’s got so many sources of food — berries, nuts, seeds, pollen, nectar.” (31:30)

Providing balance by having young forest and what he called “pre-forest” on the landscape in a proportion and pattern to what should be there according to natural disturbance regimes is critical, in his eyes.  “If you care about the biodiversity associated with the forest landscape, you need the whole series [from pre-forest to old-growth forests represented]… or if you don’t have that you are going to lose a big chunk of your native biota.” (32:32)

Dr. Franklin was particularly critical of the stark dichotomy between preserves and plantations that exists in certain areas of the country, such as the Pacific Northwest and the Scout.  He advocated for both the management of “reserves,” where limited management would sustain critically important areas, and also an ecological approach to lands where wood production is currently the sole objective.  He said, “We don’t want black-and-white landscapes.  We want landscapes that are shades of green, in which we pay attention to biodiversity to some degree everywhere that we go and we work.” (41:45)

He was at his most pragmatic when addressing the fear of logging and the ignorance of economics shown by many of the opponents of the forestry movement.  “It costs money, it requires resources in order to manage these systems, even if they are in a National Park or Wilderness Area.  We have such a huge job of restoration to do in our county,” he said.  “[We must] use the restoration process to create funding sources.” (42:25)

Lastly, Dr. Franklin was at his most passionate when discussing the effects of climate change and his exasperation with preservationists who insist that — regardless of the “painful changes” that are coming to the forest — nature be left alone.  “Why would we not use the incredible body of knowledge and the incredible powers that we have as a human society to work with nature in responding to these incredible changes that are coming?” he asked.  “The time of ‘let’s leave it to nature’ is passed.  I think we need to begin to apply our energies, our resources, and knowledge to —  in fact — a collaboration with nature in adapting to the new circumstances that we have and we are creating.” (48:24)

The partners of the Good Stewards Coalition involved with the 1st Annual Charles Newlon Forestry Forum are:

For more information about the Charles Newlon Forestry Forum, click here.