Wednesday, January 20, 2010

beyond resource management... resource stewardship

I'm reading "No Impact Man" (Colin Beavan) given to me as a Christmas present by my sister. It's a quick read, but I'm a slow reader, so I get to it in 10 page increments.

In chapter three now, but chapter two actually grabbed my attention on something quite remarkable. It seems there is a Native American tribe in Wisconsin, the Menominee, who appear to actually have a method of forest management that works.

Strictly by the numbers:

Their 235K acres inventoried 1.3billion standing board feet of timber in 1870.
Through current day, the Menominee have harvested nearly 2.25billion board feet
Their 235K acres inventoried 1.7billion standing board feet of timber in 2009

So let me get this straight... over 140 years, this group of Native Americans have not only harvested twice the amount of lumber originally available in 1870, but have actually INCREASED the current available lumber inventory by .4 billion board feet!

How can this be?

We all know the way to get lumber is to clear cut, slash and burn, and get boards to market as fast as possible, right?

And did I mention the living ecosystem within the forest is healthier and thriving more than ever?


Well, it seems the Menominee tend to cut only the weaker trees, leaving the strong "mother trees"- and enough of the upper canopy- available for the forest to remain intact.

You see, the Menominee realize their wants and needs are secondary. And not just secondary, but beyond a certain point, frivolous and wasteful. They realize they are guests of the forest too- just as are the other inhabitants. And in fact, they care much more deeply for what the forest wants and needs than their own gain.

Simply, they know that the forest cannot provide if it does not exist.

To this end, I issue a challenge... to try this for a month: take only the things you "need" and half of what you "want". Determine your actual requirements for reasonable living, but not to excess. See what you can live without. Drive less. Consolidate errands. Buy locally. Turn out the lights. Carpool. Find your limits. Make conscious buying and consumption decisions. Be engaged. Be aware.

I'm guessing you will not only have more bank account left at the end of the month, but you will have less clutter and a better sense of your forest.

Sustainability begins with stewardship. What could it hurt to try? Peace.

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