Aesthetics and Eco-logics
  Jan 05, 2007 08:01 PST 

I agree that folks looking to conserve and manage forests should work with professional foresters as well as wildlife consultants and other trained individuals. The problem is that many organizations don't understand the importance of expert advice in preserving healthy forests or are unable or unwilling to come up with the funding for this advice. Even those that do seek trained individuals still face a daunting task of finding the right ones who can best work with them to achieve their goals. I have run into a fair number of land managers, consultants and other "professionals" that I would not let anywhere near land that I cared about.

A guide that would help people recognize the beauty and importance of healthy functioning forests could prove very useful. It would help give conservation groups and land owners a better understanding of the concepts and terminology involved. They could then use this info to find and create better working relationships with the forest professionals who can help them accomplish their goals.

The guide might also prove useful to many of the professionals. It could help them measure and understand if their current practices are promoting or preventing forest aesthetics and/or eco-logics. Or, by sharing it with their clients, the guide could help to better explain the management recommendations they are proposing.

Re: Aesthetics
  Jan 05, 2007 08:55 PST 

Ed and Everyone,

I think when it comes to biodiversity or aesthetics, the key is to seek out a proper balance. Too much of any one thing is not good for the forests or people's appreciation of them.

I love the open look and species uniformity of large old growth forests. But, also love the chaos of naturally disturbed forest patches and the early successional species that magically appear in them. Or, the small pockets of unique species scattered in micro habitats among the more pervasive forest types. Each kind of habitat makes me appreciate the others even more.

Almost all the species present in North America today have been around for several thousand years, with the exception of human introduced invasives. The most significant changes over time have been in the numerical composition of both species and habitat types. Before the pilgrims most of these species existed in relatively stable and slowly evolving proportions despite the pressures of subsistence hunters and climatic fluctuations. Since the pilgrims and industrialization that stability has been disintegrating at an increasing rate, taking out countless individual species with it. Biodiversity comes from individuals evolving to unique habitats, unique climatic conditions and competitive pressures. By doing this, they themselves become unique. It is these unique individuals and the way they all works together to create a sustainable and evolving system that I find aesthetically pleasing.

I believe it is our obligation to better understand the changes we are imposing upon our habitat and to share that knowledge with others. We need to preserve what we can of the world we evolved in and help what we can't preserve to evolve to our actions. To do this we need to learn how to appreciate natural landscapes for what they were, what they are, and what they will become.

RE: Aesthetics   Robert Leverett
  Jan 08, 2007 05:43 PST 


   I wholeheartedly agree with you in terms of what you said about our
obligation. But, I oscillate between optimism and pessimism in terms of
what our species will accept as curbs to our runaway appetites. In the
end, I expect that nature will have the last word by reacting to our
creation of imbalance with catastrophic swings of climate.

Re: Aesthetics
  Jan 08, 2007 08:04 PST 

I believe the bill for our excessive appetite over the last couple of centuries is coming due now and nothing we do today will stop that. But, I have seen the tide of human ignorance begin to turn over the last decade and even though the turn is painfully slow and has yet to reach the masses it does give me some hope.

As the effects of climate change begin to hit the pocket books of governments and citizens, people will be forced to take notice. It will someday (soon I hope) become very uncool to drive around in hummers and build starter castles in the middle of forests. Society will begin to recognize these actions as greedy, self centered, and destructive. It is already becoming hip to drive around in hybrids. Someday it will be the people who live in balance with nature and society will be seen as the true achievers of the American dream.

It is up to people with the foresight to see the long term consequences of our actions to help everyone see the true aesthetics of living sustainably in a healthy, functioning environment. I know we cannot stop the consequences of our ignorance and short sightedness. But, we can help change the value set of people from one that promotes short term gratification to one that supports long term survival and reasonable contentment. If we redirect even a small portion of the energy, intelligence, and enthusiasm people in the industrialized world are using to create economic empires and personal wealth, we could at least help soften the fall. Unfortunately every day we fail to do this the job becomes exponentially harder.

Re: Aesthetics
  Jan 08, 2007 15:35 PST 

I was thinking about your threads, and one of the thoughts that rose
to the forefront of my mind was how tied up we get in the moment. We
are all trying our dead level best to be good stewards, to be good
caretakers, etc. at some level, and to the extent that everybody alive
now did that, some degree of success could be measured, and short-term
satisfaction derived.
Oddly enough, where it seems to break down, in my current frame of
mind, is in our progeny, and our progeny's progeny...rare is the
generation that doesn't swing like a pendulum to an opposite stance
than the current one has taken. We can select our Honda or Toyota
hybrids with a certain self-satisfaction that we're doing the right
thing, but what good does it do when our offspring, in declaring their
sense of independence, throw off the chains of oppression and get
their 300 horsepower Mustang GTs, EVOs or STis? The only thing
positive about the current craze for SUVs, is that their owner's
progeny will likely swing to Honda FITs or Toyota whatevers....we as a
society are SO fickle, that the mere suggestion of the size, safety,
and horsepower advantage of SUVs has corrupted an entire generation of
folks that GREW UP in the era of diminished dinosaur fuels...
Okay, enough with the rant! I'm feeling bad for my Subaru Forester, a
small SUV getting only 20-30 mpg...