Forest Ecosystem Management : An Ecological, Economic, And Social Assessment, by the Forest Ecosystem Management Team
This book is immensely disappointing when it comes to dealing with the forest, and that ought not to be a surprise because this book is what brought the plight of the Spotted Owl, and the ridiculous lengths to which Clinton’s bureaucrats were willing to sacrifice the economic interests of rural Oregon to claim a goal of preserving obscure species, to the attention of the general public. Indeed, this particular book, and the way that the forest policies of the 1990’s is basically responsible for destroying the economic base of rural Oregon when it comes to commercial forestry and related activities, may have been responsible for the current disastrous state of Oregon’s rural areas. In reading this book, and the way that the people writing it were so disastrously out of touch with the way in which one can preserve the environment while also preserving a stake in the well-being of the forest for rural Americans, one gets the sense that a real lost opportunity in Oregon could have prevented the bitterness of rural Oregon against state and national governments and their policies while also engaging in some intelligent planning for the future. Sadly, although the authors of this book claim to be engaging in ecological, economic, and social assessment, the first of the three element takes precedence and the latter two suffer considerably.
This volume is a bit less than 150 pages, including its supplementary material, and begins with a preface. About two thirds of the book or more consists of an overview and summary of the Forest Conference that took place in Portland, Oregon in 1993. This includes a background, a brief history of forest management in the Pacific Northwest, a look at approaches, a discussion of compliance with law and regulation, a look at the development and description of options for how to deal with various environmental concerns, ecological assessments of land and sea ecosystems, economic as well as sociological assessments of the options from a perspective that represents leftist urban opinion and dismisses the concerns of rural populists, as well as implementation and a misguided approach to adaptive management, and some policy conclusions. The rest of the book consists of excerpts from the option development and description, which shows the choice of option 9 as the ideal of the conference participants, as well as various adaptive management areas, and the book closes with maps and a discussion of the forest ecosystem management team.
This book is by no means the only book to demonstrate this quality, but it is rather pointed in the way that it represents the wide gulf between the interests and well-being of rural Americans and the way that those interests are served by governments. Over and over again, it appears as if the bureaucrats who write guides and assessments on forest management appear to be resentful of the expectations of rural Americans that governments represent their interests. By and large, it is not to be expected that rural Americans reach positions of responsibility within the federal bureaucracy, and this has influenced an increasingly combative relationship between rural Americans and their government, which may have very serious consequences regarding the interest that rural Americans have in preserving the fate of obscure creatures like the Spotted Owl and even more obscure creatures whose habitats are deemed worthy of protection at extreme cost to the locals whose interests are disregarded and slighted in a consistently unjust fashion by policymakers in Washington DC as well as regional offices. If environmental and ecological concerns are to be addressed in a sustainable fashion, more attention will have to be paid to what it takes to gain buy-in and support from locals, and demonstration that the government takes the well-being and dignity of rural and small-town Americans seriously would greatly help, but this book sadly misses the mark considerably.