The following document is presented as a way around the current balkenized situation in our governmental response to the looming crisis posed by changing environmental conditions and the lack of funding for the "maintenance" needed to realize the potential of land devoted to forest growth and the community that surrounds it. Additionally, this funding and experiential vehicle would also allow the rapid implementation of those techniques and technologies that were accepted by the management group as being potentially helpful in amelioration of the climate crisis one property at a time!
Please feel free to comment on what is needed, how this should work, and where it should be targeted.
Multi-Family / Generation Forestland Trust or Master Limited Partnership
A Draft May 18, 2013
Explanation of the Purpose of This Vehicle:
Forestland occupies a special but almost invisible niche in the 21st century financial community. This comes from the perception that forests are there forever and while it is nice to live within a forest not much happens that should concern normal people. In addition the financial community’s use of discounted cash flows as a means of evaluating what is important have eliminated the availability of most normal credit for use in maintaining forest health as the climate changes. This method of appraisal has forced all but the ultra-rich into very short term planning horizons. It has become nearly impossible for a single family of modest means to invest in anything other than corporate offerings for the long haul. The use of multifamily forest based land ownership is proposed to address many of these shortcomings by providing a means for combining the resources, continuity of interest, development of special capabilities and sharing of tools and talents. Recent developments in the climate maintenance system have brought a very different and urgent perspective to this conundrum. There is broad political consensus that humanity should not cause the Earth’s average temperature to exceed 2degrees C from the past long term benchmark of the previous 500 years. Numerous studies and reports of entities as prestigious as the World Bank now suggest that the current path of emissions may result in a planet with unstoppable climate change within this century and that it is likely to expect temperatures of more than 7 degrees above the long term average within the lifetime of humans now living. This is not a condition that can be adapted to by the general population. Forests everywhere are going to have to change at rates that are beyond anything that current ecosystems are capable of adaptation to. The time available to the natural terrestrial biota for mitigation is very short- this includes all of humanity. There are many things that can be done to encourage such adaptation but most seem to be sufficiently politically unpopular that they are unlikely to be accepted by the general public. The danger is that those with the resources could impose mitigations that leave out a significant portion of humanity. This conclusion could cause one to give up However, giving up is a last resort and we are not there yet- as long as there is life there will e reason enough to keep trying to get things right. One possible alternative that has not been discussed involves developing local community response groups to study alternatives and find ways to implement them in their own backyards. There are in deed techniques that if broadly applied soon enough could bring about dramatic change – this discussion is beyond the scope of this section. It goes almost without saying that “anywhere” in the forested regions of the world is always someone else’s backyard. We have isolated ourselves from nature enough that it has become normal to expect that our backyards are sacrosanct – when humanity moves in, production and human maintenance activity in a forest must occur elsewhere. Forests have been particularly vulnerable to this approach since they change much more slowly than the normal human family and so recede from the consciousness of all but the few involved in paying taxes and making decisions about the property. The recent separation of normal families from forest activity has been enhanced by the lack of financial alternatives for any who would choose to try to match human activity and economic needs to that of the maintenance of a forest. We all take for granted that the things that forests do for us are free. Such a misguided perception limits the capacity of any human to be proactive in such a resource (liquidity) starved situation. Value recovered from any forest activity is often treated as a “windfall” rather than a normal income component – as such most harvesting is done just before the land changes hands for the latest exchange. The only plausible next step seems to involve gathering enough people who have access to adjoining land who can understand the situation and who are concerned enough that they can come together to build the management base and personal capacity to keep the land in which they could have a joint interest together. This will require pooling control of significant portions of properties to form a strong enough asset base to produce significant values for all concerned. This will also require continual education and capability development for all concerned. A final observation is that if we do not get this right there apparently will not be another chance for anyone to try again.