California Licensed Foresters Association

The California Licensed Foresters Association, with a membership responsible for the sustained management of millions of acres of California forestland, represents the common interests of California Registered Professional Foresters.

The Association provides opportunities for continuing education and public outreach to its membership, which includes professionals affiliated with government agencies, private timber companies, consultants, the public, and the academic community.

Governed by an elected Board of Directors, CLFA was established in 1980 after the passage of the landmark California Professional Foresters Law.

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PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE
August 2015
Clayton Code

For decades foresters have been charged with managing forests for multiple uses. This makes complete sense as forests are complex systems hosting a wide array of resources. High-quality timber products, recreation, watershed, wildlife, range and forage, fisheries, regional economic vitality, employment, and aesthetic enjoyment have been the primary focus of those multiple uses.  Not too long ago, carbon sequestration has been added to the list.

Early on, managing forests for multiple uses has been grounded in science. Decisions made regarding forests are based on planning horizons of multiple human generations.  Results of actions taken today persist for decades if not centuries.  Because of this, the best science available must guide management decisions.  Best available science consists not only of knowledge for one use, but includes knowledge available for all uses to account for their inherent interconnectedness. Actions taken to benefit one use could be at the expense of another use. I have always viewed this balancing act to be good forestry.

Over the years, members of the public have become more and more interested in the way forests are managed for multiple uses. The increased salience is rightfully realized as many of the values offered by forests are public trust. Increased interest and awareness has spawned an array of Board of Forestry and Natural Resource Agency public committees and working groups created to address one use or another. These committees and working groups are generally politically charged due to their formations being reactionary to politically motivated objectives.

This creates an interesting challenge for foresters.  Members of the public often do not possess the years of training and experience possessed by foresters and other natural resource professionals. They are often unable to see the balancing act that is good forestry and advocate for management objectives based largely on feelings. They will advocate for management objectives that feel good irrespective of the nature of the forest and multiple uses they wish them to be applied. If committees and working groups go about their business without constant reminders of what constitutes good forestry the results could be quite undesirable. The absence of recognizing the balancing act that is good forestry results in what I now term feel-good forestry. Take for example the latest politically charged use of the forest – carbon sequestration. Emotion surrounding forests’ abilities as carbon sinks has made forests an integral component of the States greenhouse gas reduction goals. Blindly pursuing maximum carbon sequestration without consideration of forests’ multiple uses will result in feel-good forestry, not good forestry.

Carbon is not the only focus-of-the-moment, there have been others and there will be more. As stewards of the forest we have the responsibility to constantly remind people engaged in committees and working groups that good forestry is a balancing act, the question, for me at least, is how we align good forestry with feel-good forestry.