SAF: To Be or Not to Be

John Vona jdvona at
Thu Jan 16 00:38:35 EST 1997

I am forester in california who works more with GIS than in the woods
but that's the breaks.  Anyway, what do my fellow foresters feel about
the SAF these days?  

My personal feeling is one of disgust on many issues.  I cannot
condone  their embrace of touchy feely ecosystem management and their
urgings for "paradigm shifts".  I would have more respect if they
acknowledged our credibitlity as foresters and  showed support.  

Secondly, as a relatively new member to the field (class of 91), I am
incredulous that they think young foresters should get more broader
training in the ecological sciences.  If you have read their education
issues for the past decade, the same message of more cross training
and more years at school resonates.  Hell,  in my private and public
experience, foresters seem to be given less and less involvement in
land management planning these days because they are surrounded by
__ologists of every stripe who bridle at the site of caulk boots or
hickory shirts; so, in response to this the SAF thinks we ought to
remedy our public perception problem by taking less forestry classes
and more conservation type classes.  Is this wise?

I have also read in the SAF that forestry students should be
encouraged to take more classes, ie, spend 5 years towards a bachelors
and better yet, go right for the masters degree.  This is the biggest
crock as I  have worked with men having only associate degrees who are
more than competent.  The problem is that there is a dwindling demand
for foresters, due to the public lands moratorium, which resulted in a
glut of foresters and resource managers in general.  I know guys
making peanuts doing forestry work after breaking their balls to put
themselves through school.  So how does the SAF respond to this
oversupply, they proscibe longer sentences for forestry students.  Is
this really necessary when one also considers that many agencies are
also staffing a myriad of specialists to assist in the planning
process.  I mean why should a kid take another semester taking
advanced classes in hydrology or biology when most public or private
outfits have those people on the staff.  

Lastly, the SAF to me is a sociopolitical periodical that devotes only
15% of its time to scientific research.  I think they're flat wrong
trying to make their journal the spokesman for the membership.  It's
fine to have position statements and the like but all I see every
month is article after article on how we need to shirft our paradigms,
rethink our profession, embrace non-scientific public feelgood
advocacy, abandoned our past.  

The funny thing I have encountered is that the several academics I met
from several accredited forestry institutions see forestry as not
changing much at all and that we learned ecosystem management stuff
many years ago and that this EM stuff hogwash.  Well, why is the SAF
bent on admonishing the lot of us?

John Vona
GIS Forester

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