Forest Protection Issues

About the Author:

Alan Page, is the owner and research forester at Green Diamond Systems, a small forestry consulting firm and private research station in Belchertown, MA.  Over the past 40+ years he has owned and managed many private properties individually and as part of a small corporate team.  During that time he has had the chance to train and supervise many foresters and loggers, some of whom have gone on to become major players in the public and private forest management and preservation scene. 

Financial controls:

Financial issues have always dominated the opportunities open to private forested property management.   Recently, the unfolding revelations of the fraudulent basis for our whole currency system have helped focus Page’s thoughts about why the proven effective management practices for maintaining larger private parcels have been so hard to carryout.  These researches have covered the resource control and development areas in National priorities and the currency creation statutes and history in many countries.  The net outcome of these studies is that the current currency and credit creation system was a planned private takeover in the USA of a constitutionally mandated public function.  This takeover occurred in 1913 when the Federal Reserve was formed as a private entity with some aesthetic appearances of public affiliation.  The design of this takeover ensured that all credit was created as a short term debt instrument, and that all but the most closely controlled bank investment activity would have regular debt service attached to it including the so called Federal Debt. 


This relates to forest land ownership and the current call by the Harvard Forest and others for accelerated long term forest land protection from development because this approach to currency and credit creation is like the Harvard proposal unsustainable and likely to be ineffective.  The Harvard proposal avoids the possibility that there is any problem in the financial system that contributes to the propensity for development of forest land or even with the possibility (impossibility) of hiring and maintaining a committed work force of trained and equipped people given the current design of the financial system.  The position Page has taken is that the financial system in its global application is antithetical to all sustainable practice and because forests are the most sustainable but very long term facet of the New England landscape the short term nature of all available funding has damaged all of the support and operational structures (rural roads, rural populations of trained youth, regular low cost funding for long term activity, local use markets for products, etc.) to the extent that most small ownership forest land management has become a hobby activity with only one person per tract able to be involved in the ownership.


Owning Forestland in New England is either an economic decision that makes little long term sense to a  prudent investor or it is an aesthetic decision by people with discretionary income who can either cover the debt service or have held the land long enough that there are minimal carrying charges.


The first category describes the position of many large landowners.  Their practice is to purchase remote parcels, harvest what timber they can during the ten or fifteen years that they plan to hold it and then either resell it or subdivide it into smaller blocks and retail it.  In this manner parcels of 200,000  acres have been broken into ten 20,000 acre parcels after ten years of ownership, and then each of those has been redivided after the next owner gets old enough to need the cash after the investment value of the land base has multiplied several times.


The second class is everyone else who may love their land but find it impossible to educate or interest other family members in what is going on and has to be done to keep the land base healthy and prosperous.


The reason for these two classes of ownership is that the current currency creation system always involves some form of debt to be attached with each extension of credit.  The large landowners have gravitated toward those sources of capital that can provide a moderate term investment which gets periodically proven by some land and timber sales.  Generally these owners do little to maintain the land beyond what is absolutely necessary or legally mandated because they too function within the wealth concentration syndrome that values short term performance through a high annual discount rate.  (The higher the discount rate the less value does a future return have and the higher the cost of any expenditure.)


If Page is correct the maintenance of forest land and all other sustainable activities will continue to be plagued with both the periodic “business cycles” that accompany the inability of society to fully fund the debt load that is fundamental to all currency, and the asset accumulation by the very rich that accompanies these periodic asset crashes.  The reason Page believes that the Harvard proposal is flawed is that it does not address the basic needs of a sustainable economy and the ecology that is being ignored by the massive concentration of human activity in very short term projects.  No amount of money which is episodically thrown at a problem can do more than stop land conversion and aids the depopulation of the rural landscape.  Without also reducing the demands of the increasing urban population for high energy food, mobility and entertainment the protections provided by the removal of direct human directed conversion will become moot as the regional climate also destroys the ability of the land to provide the desired habitats and resources.


In deed, the escalating urban population is a phenomenon that can be linked to the current design of the financial system and its fixation on high energy carbon based solutions that have no analog in sustainable practice.  The only real answer to the problem of forest habitat maintenance lies in a combination of policies that reduce the pressure of humanity on both the climate maintenance systems and on the resource bases that now fuel and provide the materials for the global economy.


One major step in this direction would be to provide stable public low cost strategic funding for long term sustainable practices.  Such practices include the maintenance of rural road systems, provision of general education to everyone to their highest capability at the public expense, providing pre-cradle to grave health care to all humans, enabling local enterprise stability that can provide good jobs to local youth as early as they are capable to be careful either as employees or apprentices, enabling localities to collectively understand the sustainable level of human population that the region can support and development of programs to help everyone cope within this limit as they share in the obligation of determining and maintaining that sustainability base.


These sets of choices can either be accepted willingly or they will thrust upon us as the peaking of oil and the other non-renewable resources become more apparent and as the climate crisis destroys not only the forest habitat (as we are seeing in beetle killed western softwoods) but also the productive base of food and fiber that humans depend on as well.







Alan Page,
May 25, 2010, 4:57 AM