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Resource Values Managed In Forestry

Forested landscapes support a variety of resource values. Some of these are important to society because they are associated with natural resources that can be harvested to yield commodities and profit. Other values, however, are important for intrinsic reasons, or because they are non-valuated but important ecological goods and services. (That is, their importance is not measured in monetary units, but they are nevertheless important to society and to ecological integrity. Some of these nonvaluated resources are described below.) Often, there are substantial conflicts among the different resource values, a circumstance that requires choices to be made when designing management systems. In particular, activities associated with the harvesting and management of trees for profit may pose risks to other, non-timber resources. In any cases of conflict among management objectives, societal choices must be made in order to assign emphasis to the various resource values. Sometimes timber values are judged to be most important, but sometimes not.

The most important of the resources that modern foresters consider in their management plans are the following:

  1. Traditional forest products are based on harvested tree biomass. These include large-dimension logs that are cut into lumber or manufactured into laminated products such as plywood, and more varied sizes of trees used for the production of pulp and paper, or burned to generate energy for industry or homes. These are all economically important forest products, and they are harvested to sustain employment and profits. Almost always, managing for a sustained yield of these tree-based products is the primary objective in forestry.
  2. Some species of so-called game animals are exploited recreationally (and also for subsistence) by hunters and maintenance of their populations is often a prominent management objective in forestry. The most important of the species hunted in forested lands in North America are large mammals such as deer, elk, moose, and bear; smaller mammals such as rabbit and hare; gamebirds such as grouse, ptarmigan, and quail; and sportfish such as trout and salmon. In some cases, forestry can enhance the abundance of these species, but in other cases forestry can damage populations of game animals, and this conflict must be managed to the degree possible.
  3. Species that sustain a commercial hunt are another common consideration in forestry. Terrestrial examples of this type of non-tree economic resource arefur-bearing animals such as marten, fisher, weasel, beaver, bobcat, lynx, wolf, and coyote. Foresters may also be involved in the management and protection of the habitat of river-spawning fish such as salmon, which are commercially exploited in their marine habitat.
  4. So called non-game species comprise the great majority of the species of forested landscapes. Most of these elements of biodiversity are native species, occurring in natural communities dispersed across the ecological landscape. Although few of these species are of direct economic importance, all of them have intrinsic value. Forestry-related activities may pose important threats to many of these species and their communities, and this can engender great controversy and require difficult social choices about the priorities of resource values. For example, in North America there are concerns about the negative effects of forestry on endangered species such as the spotted owl and red-cockaded woodpecker, and on endangered ecosystems such as old-growth forest. To some degree, these concerns will have to be addressed by declaring ecological reserves of large tracts of natural forest, in which the commercial harvesting of timber is not allowed.
  5. Recreational opportunities are another important resource value of forested landscapes, and these may have to be maintained or enhanced through the sorts of forestry activities that are undertaken. Examples of forest recreation include wildlife observation (such as bird watching), hiking, cross-country skiing, and driving off-road vehicles. In some cases these activities are made easier through forestry which may, for example, improve access by building roads. In other cases, forestry may detract from recreational values because of the noise of industrial equipment, dangers associated with logging trucks on narrow roads, and degraded habitat qualities of some managed lands.
  6. The visual aesthetics of sites and landscapes is another important consideration in forestry. Aesthetics are important in recreation, and for intrinsic reasons such as wilderness values. Compared with natural, mature forests, many people consider recently clear-cut sites to have very poor aesthetics, although this value is often judged to have improved once a new forest has re-established on the site. In contrast, foresters may not share this interpretation of the aesthetics of the same sites. Clearly, aesthetics are partly in the mind of the beholder. Societal choices are required to determine the most appropriate management objectives for site or landscape aesthetics in particular regions.
  7. Non-valuated, ecological goods and services are also important considerations in forestry. Examples of these ecological values include the ability of the landscape to prevent erosion, to maintain a particular hydrologic Checking the age of a sitka spruce in Gustavus, Alaska. Photograph by Tom Bean. Stock Market. Reproduced by permission. regime in terms of the timing and quantities of water flow, to serve as a sink for atmospheric carbon dioxide through the growth of vegetation, and to serve as a source of atmospheric oxygen through the photosyn-thesis of growing plants. As noted previously, these are all significant resource values, although their importance is not assessed in terms of dollars.

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Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Ferroelectric materials to Form and matterForestry - Forestry And Its Broader Goals, Resource Values Managed In Forestry, Harvesting And Management, Silvicultural Systems And Management