Back in April, I attended the annual winter meeting of the New England Society of American Foresters (NESAF) in Nashua, New Hampshire. This was a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with old friends and colleagues and to absorb the latest information on forest management and the condition of the region’s forests and forest industries. The theme of this year’s meeting was “Race for the Resources in the World – and New England’s Place in the Race.” Presentations fostered lively discussions on renewable energy certificates, the emergence of bio-energy technologies, New England’s changing landscape in the midst of suburbanization pressures, the forestry practiced by new investment-oriented owners, the prospects for the forest products industry, and new land-protection tools that can help maintain our quality of life in this lovely part of the world. Forestry is so much more than just growing trees!
Northern Woodlands’ editors, Steve Long and Virginia Barlow, attended the meeting, but not just to keep up on these subjects. At the meeting, Northern Woodlands received NESAF’s “Integrity in Conservation” award, which is “presented to an individual or organization working with natural resources for adherence to principles and demonstration of high standards in the face of adversity.” The mission of Northern Woodlands and its publication, Northern Woodlands magazine, is to encourage a culture of forest stewardship in the Northeast by increasing understanding of and appreciation for the wonders, productivity, and inner workings of the region’s forests. Ken Lautsten, a Maine forester who nominated the magazine for the award, said, “Northern Woodlands’ challenge has been to accomplish this mission in a non-adversarial construct, to elucidate and educate without taking sides, to retain editorial integrity while assisting others in maintaining and developing theirs.” I agree with Ken that we have all benefited from the resulting dialogue based upon a desire to seek principled common ground rather than staking out argumentative positions.
From all of the presentations at the NESAF conference, the common thread that seemed to weave among them was change and the region’s ability to adapt to an ever-increasing pace of change. Ecologically, we are surely blessed with some of the planet’s most resilient forests. Our forested landscapes have been intensively managed for fully 300 years but remain largely unchanged – as long as they remain forested. This region’s landowners have demonstrated a long history of forest stewardship and an ability to adapt to the forces of change that influence the economics, biology, and recreational aspects of forestland ownership.
It is certainly fitting testimony that Northern Woodlands receive the NESAF integrity award, for the organization and its co-founders have adapted to the very real challenges that have faced them and done so while maintaining the publication’s integrity. They’ve done much to elevate our understanding and to twenty-first century, and their work and wisdom has certainly helped landowners, policy makers, environmental groups, and educators with the difficult decisions we all must make in charting a stable, sustainable course for the forestlands we all treasure. In their own words, the editors of this magazine captured the essence that the magazine’s readers recognize and cherish: “Right from the start, we had a hunch that almost all of the people who disagree about how the forest should be treated have a love for it that has the potential of transcending their squabbles. This has been our inspiration and our challenge.”
Northern Woodlands is an inspiration for all its readers, myself included, which is why I proudly serve on the board. With its coverage of biology, natural history, silviculture, poetry, the latest in harvesting technology, and a little bit of folklore, Northern Woodlands has become the voice of our region’s forests.