quality management in our forests
Strie, Schwabenforest PL; 14
Brady's Lookout Rd, Rosevears, 7277
Sprod, DPIF; PO Box 46 Kings
Mills; Leverington, Epping Forest,
Leech, Private Forestry; PO
Box 46 Kings Meadows, 7249
Andrew Harris, Launceston Enviroment Centre; 34 Paterson St, Launceston 7250
ProSilva is a name given to a form
of forestry management based on subtle intervention into natural processes. Similar approaches are emerging around the world
because of their capacity to accommodate immediate and long term market
objectives in addition to long term ecological sustainability. The fundamental principles necessary to achieve
this, and the outcomes arising from it, are discussed in detail. Consideration is given to the potential for
its use in Australia, in particular the advantages that the Australian
context offers. Suggestions are
made for immediate introduction to private forestry practice in Australia.
A forest that offers a finely
tuned, proven and stable environment for growing trees, with simple
low impact techniques....
A forest that can be managed
for market and ecological objects, with minimal risk, to produce a range
of services to the ecology and products, occupations and experiences
for the market....
To many this
will sound like a romantic dream, and yet there is a practically based,
emerging philosophy of forest management that can do just that. It is called "natural" forestry or
ecoforestry and is being promoted by a European centered international
network calling itself "ProSilva".
It has the potential to bridge the gap between outright preservation
of our native forests and potential destruction.
challenge is for us to turn this into a communicable and workable vision.
showing much more there is to know and the magnitude of mistakes in
our management of our natural world (refer ozone depletion, Greenhouse
effect). Given that management has been effected largely
by well meaning people over the years, the possibility is that the very
foundations of our management may be fatally flawed
. Evidence is accumulating that reductionist science
can help us identify the problems - but given the complexity and dynamics
- it may never solve them in time.
This is leading
to talk of a "paradigm shift' - not only in forestry - but in broader
society and in the way we conduct science.
paradigm has been a power postured,
techno /economic worldview encouraging the view that complex
systems could be understood by knowing enough about their parts, and
pasting this knowledge together. As
the inadequacies in this view have surfaced, a systemic, holistic and
ecological view has been sought.
different view - holism - looks outwards from the problem to bodies
of knowledge, and weaves strands from disparate disciplines into a single
cloth, instead of looking inward at a problem from the vantage point
of professional specialisation
. In creating this awareness, deficiencies in
language and conceptualisation appear.
But so too does an interlinked understanding that almost automatically
integrates such previously contrasting disciplines as economics and
ecology (see Figure 1).
" or " for the forest" , provides a cogent easily communicated
name to a philosophic approach to forest management that has the potential
to bridge the gap between outright preservation of native private forests
and potential destruction.
from accepted forestry practice in raising the emphasis of cautionary
principles, long term and holistic valuation and a decreased emphasis
on short-term profit maximisation, which by its very nature, is short
from the hard line conservation view of ecology, in the acceptance that
science, trading and the market place are an integral part of humankind's
social system, and this is in turn a part of the broader ecosystem.
To develop community empathy with bush values.
To encourage a more ecologically sympathetic
To provide as many fulfilling occupations as
economically practical in perpetuity.
To ensure all economic evaluations satisfy ecological
considerations and precautions.
To encourage the development of holistic intellectual
skills and understandings of the dimensions of quality in human lives,
at all levels of the human development process (Education)
1: A ProSilva social development
Inherent in the
philosophy of ProSilva is the recognition that it fits within a new social
development strategy (Table 1
Roots of ProSilva
Following the 1990 windstorms that devastated
European forests, windthrow scattered 115 millions cubic metres of timber
onto the ground and into the market4.
Forests managed under ProSilva principles
by private owners were considerably less damaged, and this promoted public
and professional debate as to the validity of the current management in
publicly owned forest.
As a result, all German, Austrian, and
Swiss public forest Authorities reviewed their methodologies and are in
the process of implementing changes to management under ProSilva principles. These principles are those that have been employed
by many forest cultures through-out history and around the world
Toward the end of the eighteenth century,
timber became scarce in Germany: it had been exported, used as fuel for
the budding metal and chemical industry and in ship building. Further, farmers had scoured the forest floors
for litter to bed domestic animals, and nobility over-stocked forests
with deer, who grazed any regrowth. In
recognition of the continuing need for wood products, the world's first
forest academy was in operation by 1811 in Tharand, Saxony, promoting
monocultural cropping of trees to feed growing industrial needs.
Karl Gayer challenged this view in The Mixed Forest (1886), but it was not
until Alfred Möller's The Natural
Forest Concept (1922) demonstrated the efficacy of the "Plenter"
system that private forest owners began to pay attention. The "Plenter" system involves managing
on a single stem basis, and was developed by Swiss, Austrian and Bavarian
alpine farmers because of their need for a continuous steady flow of forest
and ecological products.
These ideas have progressively been
implemented by private forest owners through central Europe.
In September 1950, forest professionals
and land owners from south-west Germany formed "Nature-Based Forest
Naturgemaesse Waldwirtschaft), and in September 1989, professionals
from 10 European countries founded ProSilva.
This organisation has since spread to
Canada and Chile.
Forest Management Principles
Principle 1: Recognition of ecosystem potential
As the basis for production is the
soil, attention is given to ensure the fertility is maintained or enhanced. Thus massive soil disturbance, land slip, erosion
and leaching must all be avoided. This
precludes such operations as large-scale clear-felling, destructive
skidder operation, and mitigates against compaction and harvesting in
the wet with ground based systems. Fire,
recognised in Australia as an integral force in forest ecology, is still
rather a blunt tool, and as such needs careful consideration before
use. Favoured methods are those which build organic
matter, optimise standing biomass and diversity, encourage regeneration,
permit successional forces to proceed and maximise energy flow.
Principle 2: Suiting
species and structures to the site
Each site offers unique potential
for species diversity, tree form and timber quality. Where one site will produce tall Eucalyptus veneer and Eucryphia honey, another will produce highly
figured Casuarina for cabinet-work
and slow-grown Eucalyptus
for fuelwood. Recognition of
these potentials in Australia is made easier by pre-existing ecosystems
that are still largely intact. Much
discussion has focussed on local provenances, but ProSilva encourages
suiting species to the site, no matter where they come from.
While first choices will normally be local provenance, "superior"
varieties, species from other places within Australia, and exotic spp
may be used for particular purposes, taking into account ecological
Principle 3: Sustainability
Inherent in natural ecosystems are
the properties of resilience (eg drought, fire), capability for self-correcting
succession (under eg climate change), biodiversity (for genetic information
and market diversity) and complexity (eg variety of niche and ecological
structures, feedback loops). When
forest managers intervene in natural ecosystems, it is essential that
these properties be maximised to preserve sustainability
Principle 4: Single stem cultivation and utilisation
This is possibly the single most important
management precept in ProSilva. Each
tree is considered individually for future potential in the context
of its neighbours. Stems may
be retained for sawlog potential, "nurse" effects, seed potential,
genetic value, physical location, visual and aesthetic effect, habitat
value or biodiversity value. Growing,
extraction, selection thinning and regeneration all occur simultaneously
within the same patch of forest. Emphasis
is placed on extraction of fewer, larger trees of higher value (the
"plenter principle"). A
forest maintaining a self-pruning, mixed age stand, with a stable microclimate
will yield a continuous flow of products, services, occupations and
Principle 5: Permanent laneways
Extraction and maintenance "laneways"
are established as permanent access through the forest.
These minimise damage to growing stock and soil, and concentrate
disturbance to minimal areas. They aid
forest workers in selection of trees, in choosing the direction in which
they are to be felled and in inventory management.
Actual spacing relies on site-specific
factors such as species mix, age at extraction, equipment available
and product quality and may vary in practice from 20 to 100 metres. Width is the minimum necessary for the extraction
System Management Principles
Principle 6: TQM
Total Quality Management is a set
of concepts that has revitalised many industries, particularly the service
and customer-orientated producing industries.
The central idea is of workers throughout the chain of production
focussing on their contribution toward the final customer satisfaction. In the very long-term context of forestry, this
means that the forest worker must understand the consequences of thinning,
felling, roading, etc; impacting on the final wood products - products
that may take more than a human generation to produce.
Inherent in such a system as ProSilva
is the potential for a stable career path and real self esteem for all
forest workers through the valuable services given to industry and to
the community. Working in stable and harmonious ecosystems
are further rewards in themselves.
Principle 7: Persistent
and intensive management
Methodologies employed are biologically
pro-active and cost effective. Where
the prevailing paradigm sees massive disturbance in a long time frame,
ProSilva uses the continuing basic processes of nature, enhanced by
gentle and persistent intervention to procure desired outcomes - quite
a different scale of disturbance. This
implies thorough planning, training and understanding the processes
Equipment needs to be designed to
be ergonomic, precise, flexible and appropriate for low environmental
impact in the arenas of soil impact, pollution potential and energy
Principle 8: Value
of market products
Higher management costs accrued through
intensity of labour and the low rate of infrastructure cost recovery
require higher value in the products.
Thus the focus is on producing premium quality - not only in
the range of species' raw logs, but in the milling and processing.
Marketing must yield premium prices.
Thus the substance of Ecologically Sustainable Development and
"clean, green" must be reflected in adequate pricing.
All market products are valued, including
genetic information, recreation, education, research and ecotourism,
clean water and unused waste assimilation capacity.
Principle 9: Landscape
recovery & reintegration
given to designing forest infrastructure around catchment units, minimising
access points, boundaries and ecological and aesthetic impacts. Thus roading hugs land capability boundaries
and ridges, avoids straight lines, runoff concentration and minimises
cut and fill. Visual management
systems are used, with the advanced application of topographical and
geographic information systems for design.
Landscape arteries such as river systems
are protected, not by total preservation , but by sensitive use of appropriate
machinery and management.
Corridors enabling genetic flow and
animal migration are retained, or in some instances, reinstated. This, especially in forest fringes, may entail
changed land use. Certainly there
are many instances where marginal, high rainfall agricultural country
would be reinstated to more productive forest use.
terms are appearing in the literature describing a shift in forest management
from a wood fibre commodity driven base to a sustainable systems base
providing diverse products. New Forestry
has been the main term used in the US to describe this shift. Other samples of the new jargon from around
the world are ecologically sustainable
forest management, sustainable
integrated multiple use, total
canopy, and ProSilva. It
appears that although the terms are used in different ways to mean different
things, there exist many similarities in the management approaches. Certainly
the philosophic basis for the apparent move for change is the same - an
inherent need to provide society with the greatest sustainable net worth
Many changes are implied, which become
inherent as a resource which society relies on, diminishes. The need to
improve utilisation at all levels is paramount as it decreases the area
based pressure and improves the 'total product'.
Research has revealed that the complexity of linkages in natural
forest ecosystems are much more complex than foresters or scientists believed
them to be. New approaches add
knowledge and techniques to existing approaches, thereby generating more
The future will see an increasing understanding
of how it is possible to achieve a variety of social goals on the same
lands without sacrificing the quality of anyone. The forestry profession has an ethical responsibility
to promote continuous improvement in forest science, policy and practice:
but this cannot be achieved without risk.
James R. Lyons, America's Assistant
Secretary of agriculture for natural resources and environment, with primary
responsibility for the USDA Forest Service and Soil Conservation Service
sums it up:
I think you are going to see a renaissance of forestry,
that is, foresters developing site-specific prescriptions for how to
manage public and private forestlands using all the silvicultural tools
that they were taught.
Relevance to Australian conditions
quite profound differences, such as a fire-adapted ecology, based heavily
on evergreen Myrtacae, these
ideas emanating from other parts of the world find fertile ground in
which to grow in Australia.
Management of native forests in Australia
has followed the classical path of exploitation, control and active
management. As society now demands
more than a commodity base from its forest, and given the majority of
the Australian population live in near proximity to the major native
forests, expectations and pressure on this finite resource is ever increasing. The successful (integrated multiple use/ ecologically
sustainable) .management of these forests is now a task of great importance
to the profession and practice of forestry.
Since the Routley's wrote The Fight
for the Forests in 1973
and were seen as traitors to the profession of forestry,
the debate has broadened, the community has become more aware and research
has shown the lack of understanding of the long term impacts of forest
use. There have been many changes to the once autocratic
forest services and a plethora of conflicts, public enquires and decision
making processes relating to forest land use have been undertaken.
As the US Forest Service embarked on its New Perspectives program,
Tasmania was struggling with its Forest & Forest Industry Strategy,
a consultative landuse decision making process.
The Resource Assessment Commission
has identified three major issues following its exhaustive assessment
of the national situation:
1. that there is no justification
for ceasing wood production in native forest,
2. there is uncertainty regarding
long term impacts and a need to integrate resource management &
3. a lack of research into impacts
of forest use on ecological process.
The adoption of new site specific
silvicultural practices in the management of Australia's forests will
take place. There is a need to base the management of the future on
high scientific objectivity. However, it is observed that some of the
proposed applications or proposed practices can be viewed as working
hypotheses or experiments until they are verified.
The importance of biological legacies
discussed in the recent literature is of fundamental importance in the
Australian biota where fire, particularly in the forests of the south-east,
has provided repeated catastrophic events. The debate in adopting any
non-fire/low fire management options, is intensified when fuel load
management is introduced following a devastating fire event. This must
be given a high priority in evolving systems of ecologically based sustainable
forest management. Historically the various forest ecosystems in Australia
have a broad spectrum of natural fire frequency, intensity and patchiness.
However, 200 years of use of the forests has created a different environment
with a changed set of values. The
inappropriate use of alternative silvicultural methods may result in
a long term loss of sustainability if a higher risk of a catastrophic
fire event is not included in the equation. The use of appropriate systems,
including fire, to strategically address the maintenance of asset values
given by society must form part of any new and sustainable management
There is much collaborative multidisciplinary
research being undertaken in Australia to balance ecosystem conservation
and sustained wood production. Much of the effort has been based on
allocation or separation of use to achieve the balance. The way of the
future sustainable systems will be an increasing move towards truly
integrated multiple use, to produce the greatest net benefit on any
The debate in the US and Europe of
the need for and rate of change is very intense within and without the
forestry profession. Australia has rapidly embraced new appropriate
technologies and leads the world in many areas. Let us as a nation be
leaders and not be in a position where we are caught by a shift in consumer
demand. If the concept of forest product certification based on a number
of sustainable criteria is introduced more comprehensively by the major
trading nations the issue of ecologically sustainable forest management
will be forced on us or become a major barrier to trade.
Australia is well placed to facilitate
new, more site specific practices. As the world demand for quality hardwoods
increases, the expected increase in their value should allow more intensive
site specific silvicultural systems, which are currently not feasible
to be applied in the future
We have some
We still have some sound forest ecosystems
that retain their biodiversity and structure, and provide us with working
ecosystem models. Central Europe
never had this biodiversity due to early Holocene ice sheet scouring,
the barriers to colonisation presented by the Alps, and the subsequent
ecosystem simplification wrought by human activity
Even in synthetic
and degraded ecosystems such as those now occupied by agriculture and
plantations, we still have sufficient genetic material, information
and modelling techniques to construct an approximate structure of the
original proven forest ecosystem.
We are perhaps
more open to change and adaptation than older cultures as attested to
speed of adoption of technology (eg VCR's, microwave cooking and second
highest PC ownership in the world).
Our sense of community and compassion for the weak or disadvantaged
is also strong - a sensitivity that is vital in caring also for the
Two perceptions of central European,
or northern hemisphere forests must be addressed:
1. These forests are not only
softwoods. High quality deciduous
hardwood such as oaks, beech, maple and ash are just as important.
2. Equally, different species
in the northern hemisphere display the full range of shade intolerance
as do our species. For instance,
in our forests, myrtles and blackwoods lie at one end of the range,
Eucalyptus delegatensis and E. obliqua around the middle, and E. regnans and E. nitens at the other.
Relevance to private forests
ProSilva is especially suited to implementation
in private forests. Diversity
of ownership spawns diversity in forest management objectives, and thus
provides a rich ground for the uptake of "experimental" ideas.
Private owners benefit from a timely
flow of products and services from their property: the ability to harvest
one log to meet a payment on a machine, or several to satisfy the tax-man
particularly suit them.
They furthermore have a deep commitment
to long term future of own property.
Most farmers consider the future generations in their actions,
as they have often seen the impact of previous generations on their
own profitability, and will be likely to forego a quantum of present
profit for their children's future's sake.
Benefits and Challenges of ProSilva
into three major categories: economic,
thorough production of premium quality, diversified products; sociological, thorough provision of fulfilling,
sustainable, well-placed jobs; and ecological, through enhanced landscape
stability. Some variables to
measure progress toward these goals are listed in Table 2.
Economic: Given a forest production cycle of 30 -60 years
, who is able to predict market demand?
Diversity based on the balance of natural communities, providing
in general terms a low cost, low risk strategy.
regeneration compound reductions in mean annual volume production due
to short rotations - estimated in some instances to be only 60 - 80%
of that possible under longer rotations.
2. Marketing quality timber: As basic human needs of shelter and materials
are satisfied, the aesthetic values of forest and timber become the
focus of more sophisticated human demands.
Extrapolating current economic growth, the demand for aesthetic
based forest products is destined to grow. Already in Europe , the market
has paid over $20,000/m3 for select veneer
quality timber, with the median price for standard oak being $400M/m3 .
3. Sociological: Complex, diverse production systems are very
people intensive (both labour and intellect), requiring care, skill
and understanding. From the careful considered felling of each individual
stem, to the thinning and culling of regrowth and activities like fire
prevention, such intensity offers a multitude of fulfilling occupations. This helps meet the need for jobs created by
productivity growth and job shedding in the manufacturing and service
industries, and furthermore provides jobs in depressed rural settings.
4. Catchment quality: Minimal disturbance, limb and leaf drop mulching
and maximisation of leaf area are associated with diversity and successional
processes, and favourably affect catchment quality. Encouragement of
fast growing pioneer species such as the Acacias to shade grasses and
create surface mulches provide non chemical means of weed control, as
well as timber and ecological benefits.
5. Landscape, biodiversity and aesthetic
quality; The principles of ProSilva allow for a higher value to
be assigned to these historically undervalued benefits, whilst still
allowing extraction. Areas which
are managed in this way will complement areas retained for their true
wilderness quality. Some of these benefits overflow into ecological
services for agriculture such as nectar sources for parasitic flies
and wasps, habitat for insect eating birds and animals, and climate
1. Greater demand for skills: Compared to the current simplistic culture of
extractive use, the concept of quality management must be developed
amongst the forest managers and operators. Smaller management and ownership
units found in private forestry lend themselves to this type of management.
there is an average of one professional field forester to 6000 hectares
compared with one to 100,000 hectares in Tasmania
2. Slower infrastructure cost recovery: Infrastructure costs must be recovered over
a longer time frame. Capital
costs cannot be subsidised by exploitation of "natural gifts".
3. Complexity of marketing system: Management of production forests for multiple
species and multiple products varies from one plant community to another,
requiring a much more sophisticated and coordinated processing and marketing
4. Supervision costs: People intensive businesses as distinct from
capital intensive industries are inherently riskier and difficult to
run successfully, particularly in a dispersed workplace such as a forest. Consequently ecoforestry requires a more sophisticated,
self motivated, professional culture by all workers. However, ethical goals and quality associations
offered by ecoforestry inherently make it easier to attract and keep
forest staff of high calibre, potentially offsetting problems of a more
people intensive industry.
5. Training costs: Developing the levels of skills and understanding
required by the forest workers will be substantial. However once a "New Silviculture",
is established, much can then be passed on through on-the-job experiential
means and by traditional apprenticeship.
Developing a ProSilva strategy
Forestry is at a cusp. Movements from around the world are starting
to point in a similar direction - a direction that integrates multiple
use of our conditionally renewable forest resources and recognises human
and non-human requirements and values.
We have the opportunity to develop networks for rapid sharing
of hard-nosed, practical experience, but these will not happen of their
own accord. Thus is proposed that an organisation be started
to achieve these ends.
Table 3 enumerates actions that can
empower individuals in management of their own private forests.
A fresh organisation may have the
ability to weld together previously disparate groups into a cohesive
whole, setting up trust and linkages, where now there is conflict.
Certainly one of the most important
actions to take is developing good educational links.
This can occur through existing forums such as field days organised
by forest consultants or Private Forestry Corporations, but more probable
is involvement in a ProSilva network.
Other forums may be provided through
Whole Farm Planning for practicing land managers, or University for
Establishment and maintenance of an ecoforestry network.
Location and listing of demonstration forests
Forest manager orientation courses and field days.
Preparation of ProSilva forest practices code.
Forest operator training courses.
Certification of forest managers.
7. Forest product endorsement and labelling scheme.
Public education program.
Forest practice awards.
Public policy briefings.
Table 3: Potential actions for developing ProSilva
Implications for forestry and land management
is both the nametag and a possible vehicle for the practical extension
of the worldwide paradigm shift that is taking place in natural resource
management. For our forests it offers the hope of peace and fulfilment
for our community., There are
many values that the market process cannot guarantee, so practical community
shared philosophy and ethics must be the framework for the management
of our forests.
This paradigm shift is reflected by
the ProSilva philosophy, requires a fundamental ethical shift from every
individual, from power towards care oriented roles. It is possible that
it is the ultimate test of humankind, a test that must be passed, if
future generations are to be assured a life of quality and dignity.
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