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Hyla Woods Ecoassessment

Posted by on Oct 12, 2013 in Uncategorized |

Hyla Woods Experimental Forest –  Forest Assessment: Introduction:  Since 1986, we at Hyla Woods have worked to measure, track, and better understand the ecological function and values of our forests – ecological, economic, and social.   We invest in this work and encourage others to join us, because we see it as an essential tool for tracking progress toward our goal of creating “enriched forests” and “sustaining people”.  In response to watching common wealth values in the forested region around us decline, we are determined to maintain and rebuild these same values where we have the most ability and responsibility to create change.   Growing from isolated monitoring efforts, the work has expanded and matured into a relatively comprehensive system for tracking forest health.   Though we are pleased that elements of the overall program represent high levels of scientific excellence and reliability, we also acknowledge that, on average, the program’s level of scientific rigor is not as high as we want it to be.  We are committed to finding the resources and building the partnerships necessary to continuously improve the quality of the science.  The work is designed to answer the following central questions: What is the status of the health of      these forests? How is it changing over time? What can we understand about the      causes of these changes, particularly the impacts of our actions on these      changes?   We have been most fortunate in being joined by a capable and committed group of community partners who both help us with monitoring that we initiate and coordinate and in monitoring that they take full responsibility for.  We are continually challenged to find the right balance between investing as much time and effort in the work as we would like and not committing more to the work than we can afford.  To date our focus has been on designing, coordinating, and implementing the research with relatively little emphasis on analysis and presentation of results.  This is our first effort at assembling a comprehensive summary of our work and results.  Though it is simple and inevitably less complete than we would like, we hope that it is a valuable...

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Reconciliation

Posted by on Oct 12, 2013 in Food For Thought |

Reconciliation – The Ultimate Measure of Success We’re told that “travel broadens”.  My experience affirms the truth of this statement, but it also teaches me that the opposite is true.  Travel, when accompanied by observation, questioning, and reflection, can also do just the opposite.  As the following story shares, travel can constructively narrow, focus, sharpen, and concentrate our understandings of the challenges and responsibilities in the places we return to and call home. Part One – Looking and Learning:  At first the landscape we walked through looked idyllic, bucolic, and romantic.  With our packs lightly loaded for our ten day circuit, our fresh muscles carried us up out of the Medieval period Italian village of Visso, via narrow, stone paved alleys, under the arched gateways through the  surrounding stone walls and  on across open and forested countryside.  It was all so new, exciting, and interesting.  In contrast to prior months of being too immersed in our working forests and their related politics at home in Oregon, the prospect of this two footed exploration of the circular route through the Sibillini Mountains of central Italy promised welcomed refreshment.  Hidden, and not so hidden, clues to the history of human action on the land were all around us.  Why was each village so densely clustered and surrounded by high stone walls?  Who were these stone walls and  stone fortifications punctuated by ridgetopped lookout towers designed to keep out?  What wealth was being protected – and from whom? As trail mile merged into trail mile, day into days, and another ridge was crossed into yet another valley and village, the excitement and engagement grew stronger, but the notion of idyllic and bucolic came increasingly into question.  Viewed through the lens of ecology and history this landscape is dramatically different from what was once here.  The forests that we walked through were made up of few trees larger around than my thigh, yet from clues of old, huge stumps and historical records we discovered that this region was once wealthy with large, diverse, valuable forests.  All along the 120 kilometer circuit we looked hard for what economic outputs that this young forest currently...

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The Hole in the Forests

Posted by on Oct 12, 2013 in Food For Thought |

Filling a Hole in Our Forests Cultures and landscapes co-evolve over time – each changed by the forces and pressures of the other.  Cultural evolution to better fit within a landscape’s opportunities and limitations takes many forms, including the emergence of new, specialized professions or callings – the bundling of necessary knowledge, skills, and attitudes within individuals and guilds of individuals.  The invention of agriculture called for farmers – extraction of metals required competent geologists and miners – computer technologies rely on programmers to write software  – ships couldn’t sail without boat builders, sailors, and navigators – to find the way…… .   Looking further back in time, I am intrigued by the emergence and perpetuation of one specialized role that, though considered antiquated by many, has underappreciated potential to instruct us and inform our future choices.  The short version goes like this:  as human populations expanded, people explored in search of new places in which to make their home – first across the land, and eventually across the oceans.  Exploring across oceans depended on successful innovation – boat building, sailing, provisioning…. and navigation.  The navigational skills required were initially rudimentary,  as people sailed along shorelines and to islands visible on the horizon.  But as people set out from Asia to find their way across large and challenging stretches of the Pacific – in small, fragile craft; upwind against the prevailing trade winds- their success depended on individuals having and using increasingly complex and sophisticated knowledge and skills.  In a time when European sailors’ navigational adventures kept them within sight of land, Pacific Islanders sailed their canoes across great distances to settle in many of the far corners of the planet’s largest ocean without the benefit of the compass or other more modern navigational tools.  How did they do it?  The answer to this question is clear, thanks to the knowledge and skills of ocean wayfinders that have been passed down through an unbroken chain from generation to generation  for thousands of years and continues to be alive, vital, and actively used today.   The keys to the success of their navigation deserves a more complete answer than I...

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I Get It

Posted by on Oct 12, 2013 in Food For Thought |

I Get It To meet the challenge of learning – and choosing – to use forests without abusing them, we need to create effective, market-based incentives for good forest stewardship.  Markets shape land – and people shape markets.  Because I feel strongly about this, I work, in the ways available to me, to help make this happen, primarily through encouraging the success of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification system.  My involvement ranges from being an early adopter forest owner, a miller and retailer, and an encourager of fellow landowners, to serving as a leader of an organization committed to building new markets, and serving as a policy maker and policy shaper.  My focused determination to see FSC work – for me and for my community – led to a zeal that I now realize limited my ability to pay attention to, and learn, from important information that others were telling me.  I was blind.  I share the following three realizations for reasons beyond their importance to me; I share them because I think they highlight significant flaws in the FSC systems that must be acknowledged and corrected before FSC can succeed as an effective forest conservation strategy.  As long as others share these “blind spots” that I have ignored and denied for years, how will we collectively improve our vision and move rational conservation forestry from a concept to a tangible reality? In the interest of clarity, I will distill my journey toward awareness into messages I have received from three directions – from customers, from peer forest owners, and from policy makers and agency staff.  In the same way that the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle come together to reveal a more complete picture, each of the interchanges provide an essential dimension or facet of the situation that I believe we must acknowledge and address.   The Customer – She called in hopes that our family forests could provide local, FSC certified wood trim for the house that she was building.  Excited to find that we could provide what she was looking for from our forests in the northern OregonCoastRange, she asked to us to provide specific...

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Hyla Woods and Climate Change

Posted by on Oct 12, 2013 in Food For Thought |

Hyla Woods and Climate Change In our three family-owned forests in the northern Oregon Coast Range, our work is guided by a simple belief: “If we take care of the land—the land will take care of us.”  With climate change, we believe that “caring for the land” extends beyond our property lines to include our playing a responsible role in maintaining the climate on which life—and the success of our tiny family business—depends. While areas of uncertainty about climate change can’t be ignored, current evidence leads our family to four conclusions: 1) climate is changing at an unprecedented rate; 2) human action plays a significant role; 3) changing climate is leading to consequences that none of us can afford to ignore; and 4) forests can and must play a significant role in creating and contributing to solutions. Action is required—but what, on the scale of our little patches of forest, makes most sense? Over the past four years, we’ve developed and been guided by, with a large dose of humility, a climate change-related action plan. It is made up of four sequential goals centered on the value of forests to climate: understanding value, maximizing value, measuring and tracking value, and finally, eventually capitalizing on value. We focus on value because while a forest’s role in climate is as old as the first forests, what is new is our evolving recognition of the climate-balancing role of forests as an important, and too often overlooked, forest value.   Our Approach 1. Learning (Understanding Value). We have so much to learn about all aspects of climate and forests that our initial focus is on both increasing our personal knowledge and encouraging and supporting our academic partners to clarify the largest areas of uncertainty and conflicting science. The stakes are too high to let politics compromise the scientific strength and validity of the foundation on which solutions must stand. 2. Stewardship Choices (Maximizing Value). Regardless of whether someone pays us to do it, we are making on-the-ground choices that both help address the problems (mitigation), and strengthen  our forests’ ability to deal with changing conditions (adaptation). On the helping side, we work to...

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