After reading recent media reports regarding the disagreement between the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources forestry and wildlife staff over the recent Sustainable Timber Harvest Analysis, I’m concerned about the “interpretation” of some that the forests are being overharvested (“Battle within DNR over logging,” Aug. 13).
I would like to offer my perspective as a longtime public forest manager in Minnesota. I think that focusing on the planned timber harvest level is misguided; the focus should be on how that harvest plan is implemented on the ground.
Over the past decade at the statewide level, more timber volume in Minnesota has been lost to a natural death (old age, insects, or disease) each year than is harvested for timber. The DNR’s Sustainable Timber Harvest Analysis was applied to about half of the DNR’s forestlands; the other half is reserved from timber harvest. The timber volume proposed to be harvested impacts about 1% of its forest ownership each year.
I’m a longtime member of the Forest Stewards Guild, whose tagline is, “Putting the forest first.” Responsible forestry puts the forest first to ensure long-term societal benefits from our forests. Responsible forestry addresses the “why/what/where/when” in forest planning and implementation; that leads to a desired future forest.
Responsible forestry practices have clear forest-management objectives that meet the requirements to perpetuate each forest type. Tree species are matched to ecologically appropriate sites. There are efforts to restore underrepresented forest types (like white pine). Responsible forestry employs both economic and biological harvest rotations across forests to provide a variety of forest values, from quality wood products to cavity trees for wildlife. Responsible forestry articulates the desired future forest in long-range plans and monitors how planned activities will move toward achieving that goal.
If you’re concerned about Minnesota DNR forest management, become familiar and involved with its planning process. DNR officials develop several plans, including long-range plans that outline the desired future forest and short-term plans that list specific areas to be considered for harvest. These plans are developed with input from all DNR divisions and stakeholders.
Forest certification audit reports are report cards for responsible forestry. State-managed forests in Minnesota are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative. These organizations have developed globally recognized standards for responsible forestry and annually audit their clients to verify compliance with the standards. You can view Minnesota DNR forest plans and certification audit reports on the DNR website.
Responsibly managed forests provide numerous forest values, including clean water, native wildlife habitat, a stable supply of timber, and the storage of carbon. We can’t have every forest value on every forest acre, but by putting the forest first and responsibly managing our millions of forested acres, we can have these and other values across the forested landscape.
We should make sure Minnesota’s forests are managed responsibly by staying informed and involved, and we should avoid jumping to conclusions based on headlines.
Mark Jacobs of McGregor, Minn., is a retired Aitkin County land commissioner.