People, space, time: factors that will govern forest sustainability
People and their social organizations are the most substantial agents of change in forested ecosystems throughout the world. Even in the developed countries in the temperature latitudes, ongoing growth, and the transformation of economies continue to reshape forested landscapes. Resulting changes in both the extent and the structure of forests hold consequences for ecological function and environmental health. Accordingly, it is important to understand how people have and may further change the condition of forested landscapes in order to gauge the prospect for forest sustainability.
Specifically, a better understanding of how people make choices regarding land and resources in pursuit of various benefits is needed. The cumulative human impact on landscapes is a consequence of all individual choices intended to pursue individuals' goals in response to the general scarcity of goods and services produced by lands in the region. This is especially true in the U.S. South where nearly all land is held by private owners. This paper examines the definition and use of indicators of change in forest conditions and how they might be adapted to monitor processes of change. In particular, the authors examine the two principle vectors of change in forested ecosystems, land use and timber management, and how these changes might be adequately monitored. The authors find generally that broad-scale indicators of sustainability may, at best, be devoid of information; at worst, they may mislead. The paper discusses challenges for measuring forest conditions, especially in a way that connects human actions with ecological consequences.
Wear, David N.
Transactions of the 63rd North American Wildlife and Natural Resources conference; 1998 March 20-25; Orlando, FL. Washington, DC: Wildlife Management Institute: 348-361.
Wear, David N.; Abt, Robert; Mangold, Robert 1998. People, space, time: factors that will govern forest sustainability. Transactions of the 63rd North American Wildlife and Natural Resources conference; 1998 March 20-25; Orlando, FL. Washington, DC: Wildlife Management Institute: 348-361.