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Respect for Nature The Ecological Foundation for Sustainable Forest Management

If you consult a comprehensive English dictionary, you will find two groups of meanings for the word respect: (1) to notice with special attention; to regard; to heed; to consider; and (2) to view, treat, or consider with reverence, deference, or courtesy; to feel or show honour or esteem for; to revere; to avoid intruding upon. The first group of definitions emphasizes an analytical interpretation: we respect something by observing it, understanding it, and acting appropriately. The second set of definitions represents a more spiritual and emotional approach: we respect something by adopting a deferential, perhaps even a religious, approach to our relationship with it, and by avoiding any intrusion or disturbance. Some of the earliest attempts to conserve forests being threatened by military, industrial, or simply local firewood demands were to establish them as religious and spiritual reserves. For example, the early Greeks and Romans sometimes used peoples fear of‘the gods’ or spirits to protect certain forest areas from use. Forests established around churches, temples, or monasteries were similarly protected by this religious or beliefsystem-based approach to conservation. With the rise in secularism and the decline in the power of the church and of spirits,’ this approach to forest conservation generally foiled. During the exploitation phase that precedes the evolution of forestry, there is generally litde respect for forests, irrespective of how this is defined. Although people in the early stages of social and cultural development sometimes revere and honour the spirits’ of the trees and forest, they may, at the same time, exploit them. The low human numbers and lack of technology, rather than any religious respect that there may be, usually prevent ‘damage’ to the forest at this stage. As forestry enters the administrative phase, there is generally little or no ‘respect’ (in either sense) for

in many postindustrial societies. Veneration of Nature: Nature as a Religious Icon Many early societies revered nature because they believed that it was a manifestation of powerful gods and spirits.respect for nature based on mysticism and belief systems about nature. However. Respect for Nature: Management and Conservation Based on the Ecology of Ecosystem Values An analytical. and infrequent. and emotional or climax. low severity. Where the character of forests reflects disturbance by fire. species composition.. and war. and nature is respected on the basis of a scientific analysis of what it is and how it works. They are increasingly rejected as the basis for respecting nature. this must be the condition nature ‘wants’ to be in. the analytical interpretation . a preservation or reverential approach to respect for nature can result in the development of uncommon and even unnatural ecosystem and landscape conditions. In contrast. scientific interpretation of ‘respect’ in favour of a return to the religious. pestilence. stand-replacing) disturbance (see photographs in Chapter 3). insects. large.’ or to ensure that nature provided good harvests and human fertility.system approach for those ecosystems in which disturbance is small scale. scientific approach to respect for nature can lead to much the same conclusions about forest management and conservation as the belief. or otherwise ‘disturbing nature. obeisances. As social and cultural development continues. the conclusion is reached that because autogenic succession moves ecosystems toward late succession. and are being replaced by spiritualism and emotionbased value systems . and epidemic disease. spiritual. and the results are predictably unsatisfactory. In the ecologically based stage. and severe (i. In contrast. drought. "When this idea is applied to forests. cutting trees. Sacrifices. the focus is on paying careful attention to the ecology of the values to be sustained — respect according to the former of the above groups of definitions. and other acts of deference and respect were required before killing animals. that it should be preserved. for the many forest ecosystems whose structure. old-growth forest stages. and productivity reflect relatively frequent. This chapter briefly considers the efficacy of these two approaches to ‘respect for nature’ as the foundations for forest management and conservation. prayers. of course. The situation in naturally disturbance-driven forests is different. landslide. A preservation’ approach to nature will not prevent these ecosystems from changing. Both approaches may lead to the conclusion that late successional stages should be sustained.e. especially as the climate changes. science and knowledge may pardy replace brute technology. These belief systems often include the idea that nature is fragile and should be disturbed as litde as possible: that is. This reverence for nature is generally lost as societies become first technological and then industrial: technology replaces nature as the object of respect.’ Where a forest ecosystem has historically undergone infrequent and small-scale.Respect for Nature 247 the forest. low-severity disturbance. the recent manifestation of the social phase of forestry has rejected the analytical. and that their values provide that society with what it wants and needs. a tidal wave of antitechnology has recendy engulfed science and knowledge. that humans should assist nature in reaching this ecological ‘nirvana and should protect and preserve all old-growth forests that achieve this ecological seventh heaven. wind. biodiversity. this semireligious approach to respect can be successful in conserving historical ecosystem conditions and values. but it can ensure a continuation of the slow rates of change at small spatial scales that have characterized these ecosystems for centuries or even millennia. These had to be placated prior to consumptive use of forest resources if dire retribution and negative consequences were to be avoided: famine. as long as society in the country involved accepts that such forests are a desired land use.

from those that may remind us of Mozart to those that elicit memories of Stravinsky. but others reflect the unpredictability and periods of discord that characterize the works of Stravinsky.of respect will lead to silvicultural systems that attempt to emulate the ecological effects of natural disturbances. Paradigms of nature that assume it to be harmonious and stable . and no change are almost certain to fail. other composers have produced musical pieces that are very different from this sound-scape. Some ecosystems have a character reminiscent of the beauty. Word Gloss. but modified to ensure that a variety of social objectives are achieved. others more violent. equilibrium concept — are at best inaccurate and at worst destined to fail and result in unacceptable ecosystem alteration.. constancy. Inst. However. Beethoven. viewed as a whole over appropriate time and spatial scales. and challenging. It may require a more sophisticated musical appreciation to like Mahler or Stravinsky. in which the many different instruments are integrated into a structured musical system. J. peaceful. or Mozart. Management will strive to produce a combined ecological effect of management. and gende. we expect to hear a variety of musical pieces: some harmonious and soothing. Self-Indulgence. 1990. and Intergenerational Equity People differ in their musical tastes: some like rock concerts. we should expect to find a wide range of ecosystem conditions and disturbance regimes. symphonies or concertos. constitutes its own ecological harmony. In science. harmony. the periods of ‘ecological discord’ (natural disturbance events that sometimes violently alter the apparently harmonious development of the forest ecosystem) in disturbancedriven ecosystems are merely part of the overall character of the ecosystem that. Dublin). In Greek philosophy. there are periods of sometimes violent disharmony between the different instruments.disturbance that is similar to the historical effects of natural disturbance. as we look at forests. Natural disturbance events maintain most local forest ecosystems and landscapes in a state of continuing change. the different instruments interact harmoniously and melodiously to produce a sound-scape’ that is a balm to the human soul: calming. as in the musical masterpieces of Stravinsky. When we go to an orchestral concert. Public Admin.1 Paradigms that do not accurately reflect the way in which nature works have repeatedly proven to be unsuccessful as the basis for conservation and sustainable management of resources. The comparison between the music of Mozart and Stravinsky comes to mind. In some Respect. Management and conservation strategies based on the assumption (the paradigm) of equilibrium. Discordant Harmonies: Nature as Mozart dr Stravinsky? Daniel Botkin pointed out the importance of selecting the correct paradigm. Respect for nature requires the recognition of the differences between the kinds of ecosystems and disturbance regimes. it is a mental image that people create to explain the nature of something. Paradigms of nature as an industrial factory to be managed to produce desired products by design based on economics and efficiency considerations alone will have a similar outcome. The analytical approach to respect will result in a much more natural’ landscape and ecosystem condition and function than the religious approach in these types of forest.induced-disturbance-pluscontinuing-natural. Botkin likened nature to a symphony orchestra. others like Strauss. i Paradigm: an implicit theory or conceptual framework from which other theories or understandings derive their validity (O’Donnell. Similarly. . and emotional stability of the music of Mozart. However. While there is an overall structure and beauty to their musical creations. a paradigm is a set of implicit beliefs assumed to be true. and of the different ecological role of disturbance in natures diversity of forest ecosystem types.

It can also deny important values to future generations. They all vary over time under the control of disturbance and successional recovery. But what is nature? Forest ecosystems vary in structure. and the ecosystem and landscape productivity and other functions that were our inheritance from the past. and can deny environmental and social values to others in society who have a different set of values. and it should be rejected by society at large. or rap. Such musical self-indulgence brings personal pleasure with little or no negative consequences to other people. The present generation has the right to enjoy and use present values. large or small scale. Mozart or Vivaldi fans may listen to little else.8 billion people. But it has the moral obligation to pass the forest landscape and local ecosystems on to future generations with the full range of conditions and species. For any one group in society to require that all of nature fit into their personal paradigm or aesthetic preference irrespective of the natural diversity of nature is a self-indulgence that has significant negative implications for the environment. and are disturbed. just as we have rejected these earlier. and one standard approach is taken to the harvest and management of forests across ecologically variable landscapes and regions. Similarly. It does not respect nature. the full range of values. Intergenerational equity is the ethical responsibility of the present generation to pass on to future generations the environmental and biological diversity. we would need to destroy and reforest most of the worlds cities. Teenagers will listen to seemingly endless pop. and diversity from ecological region to ecological region. develop. the area dedicated to sustainable forestry should generally be maintained within the broad range of possible ecosystem conditions that nature provides.indulgence of the societies that do it. To require that all forests be forced into an equilibrium. and disturbance regimes characteristic of the forest in question. the demand by some individuals or groups in society that forestry adopt one other single management and harvesting paradigm around the world is another selfindulgence that threatens the natural diversity of forests and the diversity of values that they provide. species composition. This is a self. function. It does not respect nature either. within a society’s strategy for land use and protected areas. and to disrespect the range of values that society expects from forests. However. Disturbance can be frequent or infrequent. non-sustainable stages of forestry. Even within this framework. heading toward 12 to 16 billion.indulgence of the exploitive and administrative stages of forestry. With 5. rock. severe or benign. and return to almost a prehistoric condition. Respect for this diversity should be the paradigm on which sustainable forest management is based. They change over decades or centuries as they grow. Forests change over time scales of centuries or millennia as the climate changes. It is different with nature. late serai condition because this fits the aesthetic sensibilities and paradigm of nature held by certain groups in society is to disrespect nature. the diversity of nature is largely ignored. Forest management should generally produce conditions within the range that a particular ecosystem can exist under natural disturbance regimes. Of course. Nature as the Paradigm Respect for nature requires that nature itself should be the paradigm for the sustainable management of forests. rates of ecological process. In the exploitive and administrative stages of forestry. It is a repetition of the self. and from site to site within a region.Respect for Nature 249 We all like to indulge our own particular musical tastes. To be absolute in this requirement would entail much of the worlds agricultural land to be abandoned and reforested. there will be many cases in which society chooses not to do this. this is not even a possibility. optimum conservation strategies may recommend that some areas .

such tropical plantations must be managed with respect for the ecological processes (e. It does mean that we must base forestry on a respect for nature that requires us to notice with special attention. Included in this climate of social behaviour and expectation is the concept that nature should always be beautiful to us and should conform to our personal paradigm: our concept of the ‘Garden of Eden. to be sustainable. Conclusions We are living in a generation with unparalleled personal freedoms. However. soils. . these plantations will be outside the natural range of variation of structure and species composition of the natural forest. and a desire by individuals for selfgratification. It must be replaced by a true respect for nature. and our intergenerational equity obligation. the values that we wish to sustain. and to consider the ecology of. but they may be fully justified to achieve both conservation and economic/social objectives. Consequently. Apart from this important exception — the recognition of the legitimate and important role in forestry and conservation of plantation forests that may be outside the historical range of ecological conditions — most of the world s forests should probably be managed within the context of the natural paradigm if they are to satisfy sustainability objectives. political correctness. they must remain within the natural range of these processes if they are to be sustainable. This does not mean a preservation approach and managing all forests for late successional conditions. Clearly.250 BALANCING ACT of native forest be replaced with intensively managed plantations of very different ecological character. the desires of present-day society. conservation objectives alone suggest the replacement of native forest by plantations over a portion of the humid tropical landscape in order to increase the area of tropical forest assigned to unlogged reserves without reducing employment and other wood product-based social values. Take.g.’ This is one of several selfindulgences of this generation that is nonsustainable and has very negative consequences for the environment and for what we will pass on to future generations.. Much of this is probably nonsustainable. hydrological and nutrient cycling processes) that operate in tropical forests. individual rights. it appears inevitable that there will be some species loss and ecological change under any harvesting and management system in humid tropical forests. Unlike temperate and northern forests. for example. the question of tropical tree plantations. They are often capable of producing twenty to fifty times more wood products than native tropical forests.

.:. A traditional and sustainable use of the tropical forest. D Shifting cultivator. C Douglas-fir savanna forest in British Columbia. .«-' **v*» r$:- \W" Humans as a 'natural disturbance factor' A Native eucalypt forest in southeastern Australia.Respect por Nature 251 Disturbance factors m forest ecosystems t: ' * 'V. Its condition reflects thousands of years of burning by indigenous*'*. The condition of this forest reflects millennia of low-intensity surface fires. 'tói'iit'•-• >St s». B The bamboo talun-kebun agro forestry system of mountainous regions of western Java. An ancient component of many tropical forests. either wildfire or fires set by indigenous people.

This is in an unroaded. The dark patches of forest are the highly productive. H This entire landscape in central British Columbia is dominated by evenaged. G Forty per cent of this landscape on northern Vancouver Island was blown down in one major windstorm.growth stands that developed in the windthrown areas. mountainous. single species pine stands as a result of natural wildfire. Over the short term. Such slides maintain high levels of forest productivity and feed fish streams with gravel and coarse woody debris when evaluated over many centuries. temperate rain forest of western Vancouver Island. . tree-by-tree disturbance on shorter time scales. unmanaged second. they reduce forest productivity and may damage fish habitat if they enter a stream. unmanaged area of primary forest. The climax rain forest is replaced by early-seral red alder in the slide areas. Small-scale natural disturbance I Old-growth forest in Carmanah Valley. British Columbia. and small-scale. stand-replacing disturbance by windstorms at infrequent intervals (many centuries). This type of forest suffers large-scale. F Lodgepole pine trees being killed by mountain pine beede in the Rocky Mountains of southern British Columbia.Large-scale natural disturbance (see also photographs in Chapter 3) E Landslide in the high rainfall.

The result is an open woodland of subalpine fir. resulting in soil disturbance that creates seedbeds and soil conditions that promote regeneration and productive growth of spruce and western redcedar. hardwood. The longterm K A mosaic of different conifer. and ericaceous shrubs. and mixedwood stands characterize fire-disturbed landscapes in the northern boreal forests of Canada. and has promoted hemlock regeneration. the large Engelmann spruce trees are replaced by ericaceous shrubs when they die. scattered spruce. M Replacement of giant eucalypt forest by climax temperate rain forest in southwestern Tasmania after several centuries without standreplacing wildfire. N Giant Sitka spruce forest. The straight lines are where seismic lines have been cut through the forest during exploration for oil and natural gas.cedar and Sitka spruce regeneration in many of these forests.RESPECT FOR NATURE 253 Disturbance factors in forest ecosystems L M N Forest development in the absence of stand-replacing ecosystem disturbance J An expanding area of muskeg (sphagnum bog) encroaching on the surrounding boreal forest in northern Canada in the long-term absence of ecosystem disturbance by fire. L High elevation subalpine forest in central interior British Columbia. Queen Charlotte Islands. windthrow. These trees are periodically blown over. and the eventual replacement of closed productive forests (as in this photograph) by low productivity ericaceous woodland (compare with photographs in Chapter 3). However. British Columbia. deer browsing has eliminated red. Unless die area is subject to disturbance by fire. or other stand-replacing disturbance every few centuries. absence of wind-related soil disturbance leads to a decline in forest productivity. leading to loss of closed forest. Compare this with the pictures in Chapter 3. it tends to suffer stem break rather than windthrow. logging. . Because hemlock is often heavily infected with mistletoe (see next photograph).

Fire has historically controlled the severity of such infections by eliminating the mistletoe over large areas. Fire protection and small-scale or uneven-age silviculture in infected forests will increase the severity of the infection. a parasitic plant. The sire of the clearcuts. P .254 Balancing ACT Disturbance factors in forest ecosystems Role of disturbance in regulating parasites and pathogens in forests O Western hemlock heavily infected with dwarf mistletoe. Large-scale wind disturbance acts to regulate the severity of this parasite. wildlife trees. the lack of snags. P Lodgepole pine infected with dwarf mistletoe. thereby reducing soil disturbance. Inappropriate disturbance (see also photographs in Chapters 6 and 14) Q Inappropriate harvesting practices in the temperate rain forest of Clayoquot Sound. Progressive clearcutting with inappropriately located roads has resulted in landslides on steep. Replacement of Sitka spruce forests by infected hemlock forests in the Queen Charlotte Islands because of deer browsing is expected to result in the long-term degradation of these forests. The stems of such trees tend to break during high winds racher than the tree being blown over. and the density and location of roads constitute an inappropriate level of disturbance in this type of forest. and patches of uncut forest. unstable slopes in areas of high rainfall.