What is Regenerative Forestry?
In recent times, three prevailing options have come to dominate how private land owners use their natural forest resources.
1. Put your land into some form of Conservation land trust where it will be "protected" from humans forever.
2. Actively extract the resources off the land by Logging the largest-healthiest trees.
3. Bulldoze and burn the forest to the ground to make way for “more important” things (like Development).
What are the flaws with the current paradigm? Could there be a more regenerative way to engage in forest use?
1. Conservation; While there is certainly value in keeping much of our natural areas completely wild through conservation efforts; when we choose to isolate humans from the natural environment we often miss out. We miss out on potential yields the land has to offer that can be harvested in sustainable ways, we miss out on an opportunity to create a positive human impact on the land by introducing diversity and helping speed up ecological succession, we remove the opportunity for forest based livelihoods to thrive in the creation of locally produced essential products, and we increase our dependence on imports, making us more vulnerable to the throws of the national and global economy.
2. Logging; While some logging companies and foresters are beginning to employ more ecologically conscious practices, there is much room for improvement. Many logging companies who work in private forests make big promises on economic gain for the land owner, and while a select few actually live up to those promises, even fewer leave your forest in a better condition then when they began. Even loggers who offer “selective harvesting” often leave forests in less than ideal conditions, and sometimes even in devastating conditions. Often only young trees that are damaged by the logging process are left to regenerate, or, if large diameter trees are left, they are often also damaged or diseased and will soon decline. Logging slash blankets the forest understory leaving unsightly fire hazards; compacted bare soil leaves organic matter susceptible to erosion, and a lack of replanting efforts leaves the forest ecology susepctible to colonization by noxious invasive species. Furthermore, while some logging companies offer replanting options, most replanting options are monoculture (single species) plantings that are both risky investments and ecologically unsound. The risk of a single disease taking out your entire investment, or the risk of a single economic factor devaluing your entire investment, are just a few reasons monoculture or low diversity plantings are ecologically unsound and economically unwise. No amount of money is worth sacrificing the health and beauty of your forest, and no amount of money is worth selling off your best trees to the highest bidder. This however does not mean that logging and sustainable forest use doesn’t have a place in regenerating our forests.
3. Development; While some land developers are slowly beginning to understand the value of maintaining trees on their development site, few have an eye for the long term ecological and economic benefits of carefully sculpting a forest to enhance and compliment your development project.
A cut above the rest…
Land use history, climate, geology, flora and fauna, solar aspect, topography, disturbance cycles, wild-fire, water, and much more, are all major contributing factors in the composition, successional stage, and health status of your forest. The goal of Thriving Earth Farm and Development’s - Regenerative Forestry services, is to analyze these factors to determine the strategies needed to help your forest thrive while simultaneously meeting your goals as a land owner or ecologically conscious developer.