Sustained forests; sustained profits

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The Forestry Group

Using modern technology, well-established principles of forestry, and a new concept of the privately owned total land system, Lasting Forests, both the Main Forest and Associated Forests, unifies the following diverse activities (details are being developed) for reasonable profits over the long run:
  1. GPS and GIS technology
  2. Knowledge of the land
  3. Coherent, unified management system
  4. High payoffs from previous research
  5. Intensive inventory (Two Dog and related software)
  6. Rented and owned areas
  7. Specialized nurseries or cooperators
  8. Superior growing stock and regeneration management
  9. Computer analyses of potential production
  10. The right species for the right site
  11. Specialized units (e.g., walnut products and single-tree profit projects)
  12. Named Forests (separate areas (like state forests or Forests of the U.S. Forest Service) with different objectives but unified management)
  13. Optimum tree spacing
  14. Use of alpha units (replacing or augmenting 'stand' units)
  15. Use of g values (new site evaluation criteria and local yield curves)
  16. Protection of stems
  17. Spot fertilization
  18. Young stem release (alternative grazing and fire systems)
  19. Thinning -
  20. Assistance in land valuation
  21. Extensive reports and web site hypertext
  22. Associated profitable activity (the 20 units of Lasting Forests):
  23. Wildlife management (especially through the other units of The Deer Group the Raccoon Group, and the Wild Turkey Group)
  24. Recreational and multi-purpose trails network
  25. DBq forest analyses (single tree and group removals)
  26. Beta harvest regulation (in contrast of area and volume regulation)
  27. Timber marking for maximum long term profit (including profit-based individual tree selection and removals)
  28. Superior planned logging and harvests (gentle-on-the-land logging)
  29. Intensive insect and disease profit loss controls
  30. Watershed quality enhancement
  31. Wildfire prevention, prescribed burning, and strategic fire control
  32. Security (against thefts, trespass, littering, vandalism, and wildlife law violations)
  33. Surveys (with reputable subcontractors providing services that can be integrated with the above)
  34. Road layout and construction supervision to reduce erosion and impacts
  35. Viewscape management and visual analyses
  36. Practice surpassing SFI and ISO 14000 concepts
  37. Logger's cooperative
  38. Short log mills
  39. Superior mill work
  40. Value-added sawing
  41. Solar drying and partial-seasoning
  42. Bark and mill-waste sales or heat co-generation of energy
  43. Waste (bark and nut-hulls) and ash recovery and land application
  44. Market-price-based product storage
  45. Intensive cost and tax controls
  46. Land insurance (fire, insects, storms and accidents)
  47. Specialized product advertising -
    "superior products gently produced from Certified Lasting Forests"
  48. Specialized accounting and capital budgeting
  49. Demonstrations and promotion of sophisticated, modern wildland systems
  50. Knowledge-base building (expert systems, classical research, and studies)
  51. Constrained optimization of the total system with modified present net value as an objective
  52. "Scoring" or rating of forests and forest practices for personal reasons, pride of ownership, display on an attractive sign, potentially for testimony in legal action, and potentially for land valuation for land sale or reduced taxation.

Lasting Forests engages in diverse activities, not only on each site and within each ownership, but also regionally. The assumption is made that "perfect" forest management on one area within a poor, unhealthy, or dysfunctional region cannot be viewed as successful over many years.

Lasting Forests are regional. Forests are managed for owners but because they are viewed from a regional perspective, advantages may be gained in pooled buying and selling, in arranging export offers, in reduced logging and transportation costs, in sharing equipment, and in avoiding duplicating effort. Owners of land may enroll all or parts of their ownerships. The concept is complex but contains elements of:

  1. Voluntary membership. A sample draft invitation for a future forest-related organization is available.
  2. Partial or total ownership
  3. No risk of financial loss
  4. Improved forests of the region (higher quality, potentially more profitable standing stock throughout the region)
  5. Site-specific, silvic-intensive, GIS-based tree and stand information
  6. Potentially profit maximizing, but always based on the landowner's objectives which may not include profit as an important objective. (Objectives include a set, usually defining a condition for inheritance, family pride and recreation, wildlife conservation (plants and animals), spring flowers, a place for reflection and psychological health (to "get away"), and a genuine contribution as a good citizen to the well being of the region through water supplies, air quality, scenic beauty, educational opportunities, and wildlife benefits).
  7. A regional view that may (but not necessarily) provide economies (scale effects)
  8. A preparation for future fossil energy shortages or non-availability
  9. An increase in healthful local employment
  10. Sophisticated, high-tech management including several levels of simulation and optimization
  11. Employing high school, university, and graduate students to assist students and their parents and guardians in paying for their education at Virginia Tech
  12. Using past research findings based on public tax investments in research over the past century
  13. Using actual field results in future analyses and research
  14. Using some funds to support future research
  15. Lasting Forests has some staff that are superior graduates of the College of Forestry and Wildlife Resources at Virginia Tech who are personally committed to continuing their education and who work with other divisions of the Forests
  16. Independent of state and federal funds
  17. Committed to perpetuating and improving the Forests
  18. The actual income is supplied by funds derived from managing the land
  19. After an analysis, membership is agreed upon based on the ability of Lasting Forests to pay the local taxes on the land for the owner. The owners agrees to provide Lasting Forests 80% of the additional net income from the above list of activities (the more money made, the more both benefit - all subject to the above constraints.) The owner receives annually a portion of the "profits" of LastingForests.At least the taxes are paid. (Many land holdings are a net drain on owners.)
  20. Lasting Forests are patrolled and protected.
  21. Lasting Forests are protected by many other means (e.g., testimony and other means) from intrusions (e.g., powerline corridors and highways). Of course, "winning" cannot be assured and an owner may elect to be included or not in such protective action (e.g., rejection when there is a desire to sell under land condemnation).
  22. Wilderness, park, reserve, and sanctuary areas may be selected and special provisions provided for their long-term protection. Large areas with research and educational events may be available to members of Lasting Forests.
  23. Memberships in "The Foresters" with various levels and including awards for knowledge, practices, and special activity are an important component.

There are about 2.7 million acres in the region of primary interest of the Lasting Forests. Of this, about 70% is forested. Of this area, figures differ on access and whether the trees can be (or should be) harvested. There are 450,000 acres of state and federal land in the region which, for now, will be assumed to be under appropriate management. (Perhaps Lasting Forests can contract with them to do cost-effective management for the average public landowner-taxpayer.) There are 80,000 acres of forest industry land. The summation is that there are at least 800,000 acres of privately-owned-potentially-productive-of-woodland in the region. Virtually all private forest, 1.2 million acres, may be the working domain of Lasting Forests. A modest target of half of this ownership (500,000 acres) being brought under sophisticated, profitable, citizen-satisfying modern forestry is that seen by the staff for Lasting Forests.

Wood (tree-size) growth in the region now exceeds harvest by a ratio of 17 to 10. Harvests can be increased, but the concerns are that quality growth is not occurring - on superior trees - on productive sites -- where access costs are reasonable and where other environmental impacts (erosion, compaction, etc.) are not extreme. The problem is complex in the region, even more so for the small acreage landowner. Staff of Lasting Forests will have the means to solve these problems for the small unit and large-unit landowner. The staff of the division can take the hassle out of problems for the out-of-state, absentee, or other owners that are busy with daily affairs and unaware of the complexity of forest-related decisions. It does what the owners wants, not simply cut trees for immediate income. It can assist in financial planning for college and other needs, even financial crisis management (forest banking) to prevent disastrous land impacts.

It can present a viable alternative to the rapid turnover in ownership of forestland (on average every 12 years) by providing management, a flow of benefits, and reduce the harmful effects of a "cut-and-get" before land sale.

Dirt

The lithosphere including geology, rocks, minerals, topography, glaciation, and soils.

Water

The hydrosphere including recipitation of all types and amounts, fog, fog-drip, runoff, groundwater, and soil moisture.

Air

The atmosphere including air, smoke, air pollution, ozone, climate, weather, wind speeds.

Life

The biosphere with all forms of life, human and otherwise, including all plants and animals and intermediate microorganisms.
Forestry is viewed as a total system but also analyses center on the the four "spheres" and includes management of that total system to include reforestation and regeneration, protection, enhancing work that is cost effective, inventory, harvests, transportation, marketing, processing, storage, preservation and other action adding value in the region, developing exports as appropriate, making genetic improvement, monitoring, and doing profit-making research into all of the above. Lasting Forests is seeking to grow as an organization so positive that its influences can be felt throughout the Region. It seeks to accept responsibility for management of lands in the region. These special places are living, working, profitable demonstration and research areas, self-sustaining, and providing employment opportunities for students as well as local people.

As one component of the Lasting Forests operation, there is the large-area maintenance work. It includes allowing a corporation or family to hold land for pride, estate values, speculative price increases, or any reason by applying the composite strategy of engaging in a contract:

  1. To bring the land under sophisticated management
  2. To gain full stocking of superior trees
  3. To develop a harvest strategy that pays for taxes and improves the stand
  4. To diversity products
  5. To increase security and protection
  6. To participate with other ownerships in
  7. To gain profits from additional recreational opportunities and higher recreational quality

Lasting Forests dedication to the land and its owners is to...

Minckler (Journal of Forestry 1980,78(2):192, 241) wrote of his vision of forestry and was in that year clearly concerned about the public perception of forestry and foresters. His concerns have not diminished (pers. correspondence, 1993). The staff of Lasting Forests shares much of his vision. Part of the foundation of Lasting Forests includes his vision but, in all, has the following elements:

  1. Land is what is managed.
  2. That land has trees puts it into one category of use. That use can rapidly change even though everyone is aware that forests take many years to develop.
  3. Trees are part of a forest system that includes owners, surrounding land, water, location, taxes, markets, roads, the legal and economic environment, risks of loss, tax policy, current consumer preference, wildlife damage, game preference and hunting attitude, and tendencies toward outdoor recreation. It includes current wood use technology, regional wood prices, warehouse and stockpile capability, and modern sawmill techniques. Of course it includes energy-availability and biomass-energy demand.
  4. To emphasize trees in such a system is akin to spending too much time in discussing "the lung" when the topic is the human body!
  5. Every piece of land is unique. Computer technology allows that concept to be useful. Now characteristics of every site can be used to determine what trees grow best on what sites, but equally important in the larger system what species, at what age, in what arrangement, on what site, suffering what expected losses and costs, at what distance from a road and mill, given today's and technology and expected received funds, can be profitable.
  6. Asking the question of profit is not a bad idea. Whether profit from trees (or other products) is used or not in the market, it can inform the rational land "owner" (public or private) about the dollars likely to be foregone if alternative uses of the land are made.
  7. Annual financial equivalent returns to owners from land with trees should be accumulated as part of the rotation-length budget (recreation, views, game, etc.)
  8. Regional values of land with trees (pure water, flood cost prevention, temperature influence, visual amenities, erosion control) should be computed, then a median estimate used to compute an annual value of forests to each citizen. Social value of forests is real, and can be computed, but not well at the stand or ownership scale.
  9. As in other systems, efficiency in one place may not achieve the objectives of the system owners/operators. Not efficiency but achieving cost effectiveness of the total system is the mission. Of whom? Of what? It is hard to imagine the average C-grade graduate of current forestry schools as being able to be responsible for the total system. The net has been thrown too far; the catch is too great. Some still see the forester as the manager of the total system or the generalist who can manage some part, or the specialist who can plant, raise, and specify when to cut trees (not cut them, for that is the role of the specialist logger). These three identities capture the ambiguity within the "field of forestry", among people calling themselves foresters, and certainly among the public.
  10. The vision of Lasting Forests staff is that of land used to meet landowners' many (100+) objectives. Lasting Forests staff assists in formulating these objectives, informs the owner of the costs; provides necessary and appropriate legal, ecological and other constraints, provides a prescription and plan, and helps implement the total system over the long run.
  11. The "profession" of forestry once narrow and clear, is now so broad and multi-dimensional that it cannot be communicated well within or outside the university or agency. (See Journal of Forestry, January 1995 issue). The essence (Minckler 1980) can no longer be captured without diminishing or apparently ignoring a valued component of the system.
  12. The owner of a small-acreage forest may not be able to become profitable over a reasonable period. Economies of scale are difficult to achieve. Achieving them is a major dimension of Lasting Forests.
  13. Within Lasting Forests there are people who have special knowledge of trees or some aspect of the total tree-related system. They may call themselves foresters, at some risk in some circles. The emphasis within Lasting Forests is on the total system working for the land owner, bringing his or her land to full production of their specified benefits (and more where feasible) at reasonably low costs.
  14. A concept of intergenerational justice is present, assuming some degree of thankfulness for the resource inherited and now available for use and management, and intent on providing resources for survival in the future and productive potential of opportunities and options.
  15. Few, if any, well-educated foresters can master the total system. Certainly few members of the general public without the privilege of such education can do so. Lasting Forests employees work as a group. They seek to "do forestry" for landowners. They will satisfy all aspects of their curiosity and encourage learning of all types but "to educate landowners about good forestry" is impossible. The Lasting Forests' vision is one of land under intensive contractual care (perhaps (but only partially) analogous to a lawn-care company, a frozen-food delivery service, or a furnace maintenance company).

Other fundamentals will be presented soon. I hope you will call me (Bob Giles 540-552-8672) or send email. Be sure to get your invitation to join the Lasting Forests.

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This Web site is maintained by R. H. Giles, Jr.
Last revision January 17, 2000.