The year 2020 marks 25 years of Guild activity, influence, and results for ecological forestry. During this quarter century, the Forest Stewards Guild has created a space for foresters and other stewards to build community, as they find new ways to manage and learn from the forest, while creating lasting results for all who depend on those forests.
The Guild was founded in 1995, during a polarized and difficult time in North American forestry. Opening the first meeting of 35 people from around the country, who became some of the first in the Forest Stewards Guild start with introductions. Each participant shared a story of feeling out of step with many of their professional colleagues because they put the forest first. All shared common values, experiences and feelings. The first meeting was solemn, and electric, it was what you might call a holy moment: finding strong commonalities where we might have expected conflict. That was the “spark” that continues to bring Guild members together year after year. You can read more about the founding of the Guild in Henry Carey’s essay Early Guild History as well as reflections our new anniversary webpage (https://foreststewardsguild.org/25-year-anniversary/).
Since the Guild’s first meeting, we have been part of a nationwide dialogue that has helped redefine the practice of forestry, as Al Sample describes in his essay on the Guild’s anniversary. An ecological conscience has become central to “sustainable forest management”. There is a deeper understanding of “forest stewardship” and the responsibilities that come with caring for the health and well-being of forest ecosystems that sustain a complex web of lives in addition to our own. Almost counterintuitively, this humility has inspired a stronger, clearer sense of purpose, and a renewed commitment to ecologically-sound forestry that future generations will recognize as such on the face of the land.
As, we look beyond our 25th anniversary, the Guild is growing and expanding our positive influence by promoting the highest standards of forestry and demonstrating our values in forests across the country. We are rising to the challenges forest ecosystems and communities face in 2020. The balanced, science-driven approach we’ve championed for 25 years is what’s needed in this era of polemic politics. Our commitment to on-the-ground solutions makes a difference acre by acre, even as we call for policies that help to amplify the effect of those solutions.
The Forest Stewards Guild has been an active participant in Forest Stewardship Council’s (FSC) controlled wood risk assessment and mitigation. The Guild is working with companies in the Pacific Northwest to share information about the importance of old growth forests, biodiversity in the Klamath-Siskiyou Region, and the threat posed by conversion of forest to other uses. We have hosted an array of webinars on these topics. We started with a discussion of old growth forests and the ecology and management of dead wood (watch the webinar recording). Resources are collected on our website’s old growth page. We’ve produced two handouts for the FSC companies working with the Guild on coastal old growth forests and those in the fire adapted forests of the intermountain west. As companies share these with clients, procurement foresters, and landowners, they’ll be sharing our vision for ecological forestry.
The next topic we tackled was the threat of conversion of forests to other land uses. Again, we’ve produced a webinar (see the recording here), a website with additional resources, and a handout FSC companies can use to educate their partners. The effort to limit the conversion of forests to other uses links this work to other efforts such as the Foresters for the Birds program and the use of carbon markets to incentivize forest ownership (see the up-coming webinar on carbon markets). Currently, we are working to produce outreach materials focused on the biodiversity in the Klamath-Siskiyou ecoregion. The geologic, topographic, and climatic complexity of this regions drives a diversity of forest types and habitats, which are threatened by past fire suppression, mining, road building, grazing, and management for monodominant stands. Future webinars on the Klamath-Siskiyou ecoregion will also be open to all Guild members.
The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the timing of certain activities connected to the Guild’s work on FSC specified risk topics in the Southeast. We’ve postponed spring 2020 events focused on late successional bottomland hardwoods in the Lower Mississippi Valley in Arkansas and Mississippi until early-mid October 2020. An event focused on the mixed mesophytic forests of the Appalachians originally scheduled for spring of 2020 in West Virginia is postponed until at least late June 2020. For both critical biodiversity areas, we will be hosting a webinar discussion and producing outreach materials for distribution to loggers, landowners, and foresters. Even as Covid-19 adds to the challenges of working to reduce the risk of controlled wood, this partnership with companies committed to environmentally sound, socially beneficial, and economically prosperous forest management continues to be an effective way to advance our shared goals.
First Feedback from Zander Evans (Executive Director of FSG)
I like the look of the website. It is modern and functional. It is easy to find information and engaging.
I’m pleased to have the Guild connected to ProSilva and to be in the company of our friends at the New England Forestry Foundation.
Invitation to New Hampshire (7th-8th June 2019)
We would like to invite any ProSilva members to join us in June for a field day and membership gathering in New Hampshire. I think it could be a great addition to travel in the US for ProSilva members. To learn more please see: "Stone Fence Farm Guild Gathering"
Also, the Guild is hosting opportunities to learn more about prescribed fire. If members of ProSilva are interested in learning how to implement controlled burns, there are opportunities in both the eastern and western US.