This is a portion of a modfied version of the required text discussing Stewardship Issues in Forest Managment plans written for official certification of forest land in MA. The boilerplate document is written as if climate change and destructive storms did not exist. You can find the original text at the MA.GOV DCR site if you care:
Global Birthright / Unfunded Infrastructure / Source of All Life!
We, global humanity, are at a crossroads. The Arctic Methane Emergency Group has accepted a paper, “The real budgetary emergency and the myth of “Burnable Carbon”, by David Spratt. This paper will be a focus of discussion at Common Good Forestry. The urgency for immediate action is so great that there is no point in wasting time worrying who has done the deeds that got us here (forget the “blame game”); we are all in this together. We must remember that the planet will be fine. It is the bioshere that is at risk! There is no room for error, and there is no insurance policy!
Our forests are at grave risk but things are not as they seem or at least as they are described by those who control global finance. The case for “stewardship” could not be greater. A recent study released by the USA National Climate Assessment (NCA), http://nca2014.globalchange.gov/downloads, is an incomplete, but humbling and devastating document. If you own woodlands the risks are hard to grasp because the sources of risk are so prevalent and so varied. It would be one thing if these risks developed from outcomes that could be assigned to us all as unwitting victims with no apparent guilty party. However, it now appears that the sources of most of our current pollution and budgetary problems came from a variety of well planned and executed initiatives to trap humanity within a well controlled and costly energy network from which there was to be no escaping. Our response to this can only be: “where there is still life there is hope.”
A Few Basic Guidelines:
Energy use should come from local sources and be as non-polluting as possible.
Carbon rich situations like forests must be healthy and function for the locality – not for global business.
Mining a renewable resource will not make it better.
Wise use involves maintenance.
Maintenance requires unfettered access by proactive practitioners!
Forests are good carbon uptake vehicles when healthy and growing fast.
Forests are very leaky and unreliable carbon storage organs. (This is contrary to current carbon trading.)
Carbon negative systems are possible locally. Sustainable carbon negativity must be local.
New energy systems will change the whole concept of forest importance and what is possible within forests. http://www.fixtheworldproject.net/business-documents.html –Naima Feagin & James Robitaille.
This year appears to be at least part of a turning point in this sad state of affairs. The risks to us all are so great that even given the opportunities that will be described herein we may not be able to stop climatic tipping points from happening (a tipping point is one from which there is no ameliorative possibility). This call for stewardship then is one of extreme urgency and to directions not normally included in the realm of forest stewardship discussions. The space herein available for the disclosure of the various parts of this problem is both insufficient and possibly inappropriate for full development of the problem and the solutions. Reference will be made to a non-commercial website, Common Good Forestry (CGF) and others where necessary. For more background information refer to the CGF Background page.
A Brief Summary: The storms of the early twenty-first century have established a frame of reference for the warnings of climate researchers over the past twenty plus years, this is a preview of the new “climatic uncertainty”. The 2011 flooding in Vermont and New York took out roads and covered bridges that dated back more than 150 years. The longest covered bridge in NY State, one over the Schoharie Creek, was washed away by the tremendous volume of storm water run off from hurricanes Irene and Lee. Storms, Katrina, Irene, Lee, and Sandy are just weak samples of what is to come. Less well known are the affects of the 2011 tropical storm that hovered off of Cancun, Mexico and dumped over 5 feet of rain on Guatemala and Honduras in less than a week. This same kind of phenomenon occurred in Australia recently and there are geologic records of similar flooding occurring in many places in the recent geologic past. In April of 2014 Florida received over 2 feet of rain in one day. Needless to say there are few forests or sensitive ecosystems in MA that will long withstand unchanged any increased storm intensity beyond what we have witnessed in the past decade. It is clear to those who study the effects of climate forcing that we have yet to experience anything like what we are setting up for our grand children to have to cope with in the next fifty years. Fifty years is normally a short lifetime for a timber tree in the NE USA. Projecting the results of forest management into this new environment and particularly the chances for success in any long term timber investment is folly!
In view of this reality the question for any forest owner must be:
What does “stewardship” mean to me?
What are my responsibilities, opportunities and capabilities?
What must I/we ask for (and from whom) to be able to carryout our opportunities to be proactive?
This section can only sketch the briefest of suggestions, but if your forest is important to you, it is essential that you study these issues and form a level of knowledge that is adequate for you to make decisions in light of the exposure that you, your family, and your forest will have as a result of the evolving situation!
Your Chapter 61 Forest Management Plan is a tax classification document provided to help you become more familiar with these evolving challenges and the opportunities that your forest offers you to do something that is proactive and cost effective. You may be well advised to have a more detailed Stewardship plan if you have engaged in much effort beyond just infrequent harvesting.
The Drivers of Change: Recent developments in energy generation have made clear that the current social, economic and climatic conditions are the direct result of choices made early in the 20th century that guaranteed a revenue stream to government and financial centers. Unfortunately this choice also resulted in the release of many different kinds of pollutants including CO2 that would not have happened if other available systems had prevailed. Today we are still stuck with these polluting systems. The issue of “fracking” of natural gas containing formations is driven by these same entities that seek to “mine” value of all kinds from an area and then leave, frequently after declaring bankruptcy. It is then up to the locality to clean up the mess with public or local funds. This system of exploitation must cease and other non-polluting energy sources must replace the “normal” means of powering activity. This energy economy is driven by an inappropriate economic system maintained by financial elite. Issues described below can be traced to money flow and will only change when the valuation system changes.
The stable interglacial conditions that brought our planet to the situation found in 1800s are likely to be regarded as a precious and irreplaceable asset by the occupants who are left as these changes continue. Some of these changes are outcomes which occurred as unintended consequences of past decisions. Many including the failure of rural communities and the inability of rural families to “do the right thing” for either their children or their landholdings are the direct result of a well executed business plan by those with the resources and the will to bring this about. Two papers, one by Mark Ritchie entitled “The Loss of Our Family Farms”, and the other a shorter summary from Common Dreams, are included in the supplement to this plan. These papers describe the “CED-Adaptive Program for Agriculture” successfully developed and implemented in the USA to minimize the farm population. The complete file of that program is available in the list of files at https://sites.google.com/site/commongoodforestry/home/an-open-letter---350-org . Kline and Perkins pickup the story of how the Chicago School of Economics teams then advocated for these programs globally. This program with modifications was used by developed nations to target rural populations everywhere with a program of social and financial engineering to move rural populations to urban centers and destabilize rural infrastructure, leaving land to be taken by outsiders (corporate farming interests) while impoverishing the local inhabitants and building a small clique of super rich.
Robitaille and others have described how the century long program of energy centralization has been carried out by the financial and industrial sectors of our economy for the benefit of those sectors. There are many other sources that describe how this process has unfolded and who was and is responsible. It may be that these powerful interests are about to lose control. It is important to be able to understand what is happening and when, and if possible to respond to the consequences in a timely manner.
It is simply a statement of fact that unless the wealth concentration process and the climate weirdness are reduced or eliminated the regulations described below that are now in place to protect the various facets of your forest from you will have had no lasting affect, and that all of these “resources” will suffer extreme change or elimination.
Additional Sources of Information:
“Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins, “Bioenergy in the Black” , J. Lehmann,
“The Shock Doctrine” by Naomi Klein,
Common Good Forestry – Forest Management Tools: <http://sites.google.com/site/commoongoodforestry>
Fix the World Project - James M. Robitaille, Engineering Artist for the QEG Fix the World Council:
Regulatory Complicity: Part of this planned agenda, where a few entities become dominant in global commerce, involved and continues to involve the development and implementation of confiscatory regulation of many facets of proactive (particularly rural) life; in addition to the focus of all activity on personal wealth accumulation and protection of that wealth. Robitaille, Ritchie, Klein and Perkins all describe how public entities that were supposed to work for, serve, and protect the local populations have routinely been subverted for the gain of a few. In MA this may be happening through regulations that limit your ability to do needed work in your forest. It is also very likely that the energy sources described by “Fix the World” will be resisted strongly by vested interests. In 2014 we may be witnessing the use of the Chicago School of Economics “disaster capitalism” in several unexpected places including MA, other parts of the USA, and Ukraine. Unfortunately the story is unlikely to be told in the normal media.
The effects of confiscatory regulations are just beginning to show up in the present realities. So your proactive forest related efforts will gradually be constrained in ways that may be difficult for you to understand. When confronted with confiscatory regulation you should ask yourself and the regulator: Who is going to pay the cost of these requirements?
What do you expect the real benefits are likely to be from the practice or limitation?
How permanent are the “protections” or habitat maintenance being imposed?
Who benefits from these outcomes and are they paying for them in some manner?
Is there another way to accomplish the desired outcome?
Are there other polluters that should be doing more to address the same issue?
You must have patience, be clear and articulate when describing how an issue affects your abilities to be proactive! Your local regulators need to hear from you at every opportunity, but they probably are unable and even unwilling to do anything about the issues. Letters to your legislators may be the only way to bring about change. Our lifestyles and the technologies that make them possible are the primary source of both the climate changing agents and the number of people who can consume resources at unsustainable rates.
Forest Opportunities, Issues and Concerns: The public download-able release of plans for free energy systems offered by Robitaille and others may be able to change the global economy, but it will take the efforts of all of us to make sure that what works can not be swept under the rug as it was in the past. The use of carbon negative systems and the charcoal produced can provide a way to stabilize otherwise mobile carbon in rotting forest residues. Climate crises will bring unpredictable conditions that will stress and disrupt even the most resilient ecosystems, these changes will visit us all in one way or another. Forests and their care offer a significant opportunity to reverse the intensity of these effects. There are many kinds of signals from the forest and individual trees that may be read by informed observers. The increasing frequency of damaging agents will necessitate nearly immediate appropriate response by anyone who has significant value or investment in a forest. At this point forests have to be regularly maintained in order to stay healthy.
A few obvious basic facts may help:
All natural forests are repeatedly populated by very large numbers of seedlings whenever the conditions for their temporary survival permit it – one year old numbers probably average around 500,000 seedlings per acre.
Over the life of the trees that come to dominate the site most of the smaller stems die and are converted back into CO2 and methane within 15 years of death. Periodic thinning and longer term product removal is an important part of the energy recovery and carbon negativity process.
Whenever there is an opening made in the canopy the process is repeated.
The net result is that of the 500,000 seedlings fewer than 200 stems (trees) are harvested for long term use and this may be as few as 25 to 50 per acre. So 499,900 trees normally die from the first set of seedlings that colonized the site and most of that tonnage and much of the upper stem weight of the harvested trees is left to rot – maintaining the atmospheric CO2 level.
Slow growing trees of any size are more apt to suffer from rot, infection or infestation and thus may become part of the local CO2 release problem.
Unfortunately dying trees are frequently very wet which causes the degradation to proceed anerobically, producing methane rather than CO2 as dry rotting does. Methane is 100 times as effective a greenhouse gas as CO2 is. Recent studies have found methane levels inside wet trees to be 80,000 times the external atmospheric level.
As forests decline in health they will become a positive feedback for climate change. Thus you commitment to keeping your forest healthy and growing fast is an important part of your stewardship. Without it the habitat your forest represents may disappear.
This details of this area are beyond the scope of this section and this plan to fully inform anyone of the range of issues that may develop.
The Challenges: [management financing] Forest owners are faced with challenges when doing proactive long term “normal management” because the technical and financial resources to do these things are limited or nonexistent for all but the well to do. The forestry section of the NCA report observes that much of the corporate forest ownership has recently come under control of investment managers who may have no interest in forest maintenance. The formation of new forest ownership vehicles to accept outside funding and retain control by people with the knowledge and interest in the health and stability of local communities and forests is a promising area of opportunity. See the Multifamily/generation Forest Trust page on the CGF site.
New techniques of local distributed carbon negative, combined heat and power energy generation are being researched. The techniques described by Fix the World Project are available by downloading from the web for free. The current implementation appears to function at farm and neighborhood scales. It is too early to tell how this will be received. The rapid adoption of either of these techniques may reduce or eliminate the release of CO2 and enhance the removal and storage of atmospheric carbon while providing local sources of carbon negative energy. These systems must actually be widely used by as many energy users and forest owners as fast as possible if they are to have a significant effect. There is very little time left for such proactive measures to be effective.
The Challenges: [communication] Massachusetts is a small urban and residential state at the edge of this continent. All MA forests are urban forests – they are almost always some else's back yard. Both urban and new rural residents are a large population of “entitled” individuals who expect reliable community and support services. The expectations of this population now exceed the capacity of the State and local production to support them. MA imports over 95% of both food and fiber and almost all of its energy supplies. Hopefully this could change with the new technologies described above. Should outside resources become unavailable these people will have to become farmers, move or starve. It is possible that the new energy techniques will change the way farming is done and enhance farming in ways we can only dream of now? Fortunately or unfortunately the water resources of this State are less likely to become limiting than other areas of the world in the near future. Forestland is now being purchased by those with the resources as a protective measure. These citizens are for the most part disconnected from the sources of the resources they feel entitled to and are generally physically, psychically, and intellectually remote from the ecosystems that provide essential “life support” services (although they may think that they know a lot about them). These disconnections are and will be the source of significant challenges for forest owners. They will require our ability to communicate and resolve the conflicts that stem from the operational realities of owning forest. On the one hand, we have the noise, traffic, and change associated with forest maintenance. On the other, there are “needs” and wants of those who are divorced from the provision of essential ecosystem services. There is an opportunity to engage these outside interests in some form of alternative ownership arrangement that provides resources and rewards just for keeping the forestland in forest. See the Multifamily/generation Forest Trust page on the CGF site.
As population shifts occur it may be necessary for forest owners to be able to describe and try to discuss the functions of forests in new ways for those not familiar with what happens within a forest to grasp the enormity of the issues. The Stand Visualization System (free software) makes use of easily obtained forest stand data to display images of how your forest may change.
The Challenges: [infrastructure] One helpful concept is that of “INFRASTRUCTURE.” Infrastructure includes all those functions that are the basis for our Common Good – the source of all life – a “gift” to us all that must be maintained. Unfortunately, the current financial system has no way of valuing the variety of maintainable facets of our natural infrastructure. Renewable resources like forests provide maintainable functions for human life support if done right. As we capture / “mine” more of the resources available at the surface of our planet, it becomes increasingly important that all forests be able to be maintained. In this regard forests are similar to the normal human infrastructure - hospitals, roads, and bridges. As our natural resources are converted from living or life supporting substrates for-all into profit-for-a-few, the basis of life (the presence of a stable weather pattern, absence of invasive species, clean water and air, etc.) may become so scarce or unreliable that “life as we know it” is no longer possible.
The Reality: Massachusetts still is the home to a tremendous variety of ecosystems, plant and animal species, management challenges, and opportunities. The large and well managed corporate led program to disconnect the human population from reliance on local sustainable systems and their true capacity to support human activity should be a major issue for our time. This condition has not been adequately addressed by our leaders, our media or our resource management systems.
This section of your plan will provide background information about the Massachusetts forest landscape as well as some of these issues and opportunities for proactive effort that might affect and or benefit your land. The maintenance of ALL infrastructures has not been recognized as a significant and necessary component of normal everyday life. The current USA (and increasingly all developed regions) monetary systems have no way to recognize the value of these issues and opportunities, therefore the discussions here are in the form of a basic primer with the hope that you will study the range of issues in greater detail than this plan can provide. One hint for conducting this search and the resulting conversations is that you will find many opinions, but there can only be one set of facts. It may help to highlight the facts for later use. Facts however change as new information surfaces, so it is important to keep looking for answers with an open mind. It may be hard to change opinions of others. The information the James Robitaille has prepared about the energy possibilities using the Tesla systems may be a case in point. There is an unhelpful bias against proactive forest manipulation in the paragraphs prepared by regulators below. While timber is the only way for normal people to create any value that can enable the recovery of carrying costs of forest ownership, regulators and the public seem to feel that forest owners must bare all of the costs with no reliable additional support. It is up to us all to change this somehow.
Where to Look and What to Look For: The Overview, Stand Descriptions and Management Practices sections of your plan will give more detailed property specific information on these subjects tailored to your management goals. Unfortunately, this plan can offer little in the way of reliable guidance on how to fund or even plan for the proactive implementation of the recommendations provided in these sections. The process of plan implementation may require intensive study of the current private, State, and Federal support offerings and may lead to extended conversations with your forestry contacts and public officials. This plan is simply a tax qualification document to assist you in retaining your land in a fully functional and ecologically enhanced, but “undeveloped” condition, by reducing the level of tax charged by the local authorities. The tax reduction is not likely to be sufficient to fund an effective forest management program. It may be a vehicle that will enhance your access to funding to do things that may be important to you. However, some of these activities may be regulated by laws and regulations put in place without the provisions for compensation for the services or compliance demanded in the regulation.
An ongoing problem is the fossil energy based short term activity of urban and rural populations, corporations and governments around the world. These resource consuming activities are placing many sustainable systems are at risk from climatic instability. It is becoming increasingly clear that these overarching effects can not be eliminated by a simple designation of a parcel as one that is “protected” as is suggested in many sections below. For this reason it is suggested here that the current normal “protection” of place is obsolete. Such protection must be accompanied by a range of other measures including the formation of “Cottage Industry Community Units” (CICU) as described by Robitaille at Fix the World Project, techniques for CO2 removal and many other energy related technologies as described by Keshe, carbon negative energy system adoption for local provision of energy, use of biochar for nutrient retention and organic compound detoxification, stabilization of forest and agricultural soils wherever possible, and eventual rebuilding of the local competence for self reliant living. The urgency of this cultural change can not be over emphasized. Climatic uncertainty is with us and must be addressed in all we do.
Biodiversity: Biological diversity is, in part, a measure of the variety of plants and animals, the communities they form, and the ecological processes (such as water and nutrient cycling) that sustain them. With the recognition that each species has value, individually and as part of its natural community, maintaining biodiversity has become an important resource management goal.
The biggest and newest threat to biodiversity is the prospect for complete annihilation of “Life as We Know It” from irreversible climate change. This problem is not mentioned in State approved literature. While an immediate threat to biodiversity in Massachusetts, the loss of habitat to development pales in comparison to other stressors. Another threat is the introduction and spread of invasive non-native plants. Non-native invasive species like European Buckthorn, Asiatic Bittersweet, and Japanese Honeysuckle spread quickly, crowding out or smothering native species and upsetting and dramatically altering ecosystem structure and function. Once established, invasive species are difficult to control and even harder to eradicate. Therefore, vigilance and early intervention are paramount. These problems are a direct result of the global economy. Local activity is essential to stop the addition and disbursement of these harmful agents.
Another factor influencing biodiversity in Massachusetts concerns the amount and distribution of forest growth stages. Wildlife biologists have recommended that, for optimal wildlife habitat on a landscape scale, 5-15% of the forest should be in the seedling stage (less than 1” in diameter). Yet we currently have no more than 2-3% early successional stage seedling forest across the state. There is also a shortage of forest with large diameter trees (greater than 20”). It is clear that the major habitat modification opportunities come from active timber management. The policies maintaining cheap carbon based energy solutions to resource supply have adversely affected all the phases of the forest industry through replacement of wood by plastic, glass, concrete and steel, outsourcing production from local to global businesses and concentrating distribution in mega stores. Recognition of all these areas as part of the natural infrastructure and creating permanent long term forest management financing systems is essential to maintaining these habitats both rural human and endangered plant and other animal habitats. See more about how you can manage your land with biodiversity in mind in the “Wildlife, Soils, and Tree Health” sections below. (Also refer to Managing Forests to Enhance Wildlife Diversity in Massachusetts, A Guide to Invasive Plants in Massachusetts, and other proactive timber maintenance information provided in the binder pockets.)
Rare Species: Rare species include those that are threatened (abundant in parts of its range but declining in total numbers, those of special concern (any species that has suffered a decline that could threaten the species if left unchecked), and endangered (at immediate risk of extinction and probably cannot survive without direct human intervention). Some species are threatened or endangered globally, while others are common globally but rare in Massachusetts. This program takes precedence over all other land use possibilities at this time, even though some practices could be more “protective” than the current programed initiatives. It is quite likely that unless there is a massive and effective change in energy use and production of goods locally that all of these efforts will fail. This program is unequally administered and enforced and given rapid climate change it is not likely to have any long term positive affect and may be deleterious to those activities that could have actually slowed the change. Designation of “suspected” habitat areas is done by office personnel. There is no field checking before issuing the mandated practice modifications and appeal is virtually impossible.
Of the 2,040 plant and animal species (not including insects) in Massachusetts, 424 are considered rare. About 100 of these rare species are known to occur in woodlands. Most of these are found in wooded wetlands, especially vernal pools. These temporary shallow pools dry up by late summer, but provide crucial breeding habitat for rare salamanders and a host of other unusual forest dwelling invertebrates. Although many species in Massachusetts are adapted to and thrive in recently disturbed forests, rare species are often very sensitive to any changes in their habitat
Indispensable to rare species protection is a set of maps maintained by the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife’s Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program (NHESP) that show current and historic locations of rare species and their habitats. The maps of your property will be compared to these rare species maps and the result indicated on the upper right corner of the front page of the plan. Prior to any regulated timber harvest, if an occurrence does show on the map, the NHESP will recommend protective measures. Possible measures include restricting logging operations to frozen periods of the year, or keeping logging equipment out of sensitive areas. You might also use information from NHESP to consider implementing management activities to improve the habitat for these special species.
There are no comparable limitations on other “normal” citizen activities that contribute to the pollution of these areas or the impacts from outside development that cause additional focus on forest left within the region; nor are there means of directing payments to forest owners for maintenance efforts. The exposure of the real players in the economic “game” that caused the fossil energy dominance has yet to have had any real affect on those truly responsible for the problems. The practices described by Kline that are used by corrupt governments and their client corporations to carry out massive change in times of trouble can subvert all regulations that in normal times impede most activity. It appears that the Endangered Species Act is being used to change land use for private gain. The lack of an appropriate monetization of these habitat resources and provision of funding to compensate those “lucky” enough to be able to pay for the right to be stewards of such habitat may place intolerable burdens on forest land owners who are “suspected” of having such species present. There are problems that come with any mitigation effort. The monetization of ecosystem services may not be a panacea since it could entail another level of bureaucracy beyond the one discussed above. Alternatives might include the recognition that there are important proactive steps that each of us should be able to take as a normal part of our sovereign occupancy of the landscape. Forest owners are potentially able to have a large impact on the quality of their habitat if the appropriate funding can be developed. Finding a way to advocate for such a change in the way we value life and what is worthy of compensation may be the hardest job for anyone in this century. Failure to respond globally and locally to the impending climatic crisis will guarantee that all species requiring the current temperature range (-40 to 110 degrees F) will soon become endangered.