Forests as Infrastructure

Community Forests are being tried as a model for communication of forest based information. See the Comfor file that was added on September 9, 2015 in the list below. There is a lot more that should be included in this kind of document. The real concern devolves around governance. It appears that unless there is a significant involvement of the local populace the governance will gravitate to those with special interests and that this should be resisted wherever possible.

Jared Diamond got it wrong when he listened to the US Forest Service Rangers talking about what it would take to maintain a vibrant forest around his home in Montana.  His error was based in a lack of understanding of how precious a healthy forest is for all other functions within the biosphere, and given that where everything else of value comes from.  He also made assumptions about what it is reasonable for people to be paid to do various jobs and where the funds for this compensation should be derived.  His error is our collective loss.  We all make the same error every time we choose the cheapest item on a grocery store shelf, or discount outlet bin.
 
It may help to step back a bit from the rush of every day commerce to consider the place that humanity really occupies in the grand scheme of things.  A Marshall Dodge skit brought this home to me:  "After winning a ride in a ballon at the Freyburg Fair, Burt and I took off and were quickly wisked out over the Atlantic.  After a while the wind changed and we were blown back over land so when we saw a farmer in a field below we decided to let out some gas and ask for directions.  On getting close enough to hale the farmer, we asked 'where are we?'  The farmer replied, 'you'er in a ballon you damn fool!'"
 
Well, we are ALL on a relatively small space ship with a sensitive life support system that is really just a thin layer of conditions that surround the solid core.  This thin skin of the 'eaarth' is what allows life as we know it to exist.  Part of the support system for this life is found  in and around the forest covered portions of the solid terrestrial area that are wet enough to allow trees to out-compete all other life for the majority of the resources available at that point.
 
If we had to build a set of systems to do what forests do for the biosphere they would be quite complicated, very expensive to build and install, and would require regular human maintenance to stay productive.  There would be no economic outflow from them anymore than there is an economic output by a college or a bridge (or a forest for that matter).  Therefore a forest is part of the infrastructure of the biosphere.  It is a major part of the lifes support system for the globe.  Within limits we can both enhance the outcomes from the forest as an infrastructure component, and we can influence the forest as part of the economic structure of the locality wherein the forest resides. However, it is unlikely that any forest will have the regular cash out flows that are required of any currently bankable asset, and therefore the funding for the maintenance that Diamond dismissed must come from the "common good" of which those forests are a part.  (See the Coinage page for details on currency creation.)
 
Today forests are not recognized as something that requires the support of all people.  This lack of attention is causing conditions in which the infrastructure functions that forests have provided for free in the recent past to be degraded by forest fragmentation and human driven pollution.  Most forests are seen as part of the economic engine of a locality to be mined and abandoned.  The majority of Diamond's information came from people who were stuck in the current economic system and his own acceptance of this assumption of what is normal.  This attitude can be traced back to the system used for currency creation and credit allocation on this small space ship.  It is time that we change our understanding of how things really work.  There are a variety of resources here and at Common Good Dialog for this quest.

Before leaving this page it may help to delve more deeply into both our Common Good and the forest as an infrastructure component.  One can get a pretty good idea of what others think infrastructure is by checking the Wikipedia entries.  They are all very basic aspects that are essential for the function of society.  FEMA even has its evaluation listed there for those areas that are essential in a disaster.  Of course forestry and agriculture are listed - as part of the "industrial" infrastructure - one might ask why not as a social part of society, but that is not up for debate.  Each infrastructure area has its pluses and minuses for the common good.  If any particular area becomes too prominent its problems will limit other possibilities in the area.  Trail, BC comes to mind.  
 
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Alan Page,
Aug 31, 2011, 11:28 PM
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Alan Page,
Sep 15, 2012, 6:39 AM
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Alan Page,
Aug 31, 2011, 11:28 PM
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Alan Page,
Sep 10, 2015, 9:42 AM
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Alan Page,
Jul 22, 2011, 8:21 AM
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