MA Association of Professional Foresters and Consultants (Fwd)

KMorrisD kmorrisd at aol.com
Thu Sep 10 09:42:26 EST 1998


Note:  This is from a forester who has email, but not newsgroup access.  He
asked me to post this for him.  KMD

Subject: Re: MAPF and consultants
Date: Thu, 10 Sep 1998 04:25:08 -0700 (PDT)
From: Mike Mauri <mauri at deerfield.edu>
To: KMorrisD at aol.com

To: Joe and Karl, AMK, Carmine, Ed K., Joel D., Thom K-S, DBK, Glenn, Steve
A., Susan C., Howard and everyone who is listening in one way or the other
(after Karl kindly posts this on the newsgroup)

From: Mike Mauri, consulting forester

Re: SHRUB: a woody plant of relatively low stature, distinguished from a
tree by having several stems rather than a single trunk.

MAPF: "Dedicated to the improvement of the practice of forestry in the
Commonwealth of Massachusetts"

Just a few comments to contribute to the ongoing Massachusetts forestry
discussion (MAPF, DEM and consultants, etc.).  I know there will be plenty
to criticize in what I say, but free speech means you don't necessarily get
it "right" all the time.

When I first got the notice of MAPF's shrub workshop in the mail - the
first I had heard of it - I just chucked it into a growing and expensive
continuing ed pile; but a little while later I remembered that I'm actually
the Recording Secretary of MAPF and that my name is on the stationery.  Why
had I temporarily forgotten?  As you have noticed, MAPF as a group has been
essentially inactive throughout all of 1998, and, to my knowledge, has done 
little to serve the profession so far this year.  Until recently, though, this
has not been the case, and it's not too late to move forward out of inactivity.
 Everyone says lack of participation is part of MAPF's problem, and it is - but
it's not too
late for members to get active again.

As far as the usefulness of the shrub workshop, perhaps it's just that the
notice itself is vague, or perhaps the workshop is - I don't know - but I'm
hoping the basis for this workshop is something like "WHAT DO WE NEED TO
KNOW ABOUT SHRUBS TO IMPROVE OUR FORESTRY PRACTICE" (let's not sell shrubs
short) and not a sort of "which shrub is that?" which we ourselves might
conduct for a local library.  Knowing the current Chair, I'm assuming it's
the former.  In any case, the workshop was planned without a meeting of
MAPF's Executive Committee (which is why I didn't hear about it until you
did), where we normally toss around ideas and try to figure out what MAPF
can provide and what foresters in general might need to know.

The question of whether a shrub workshop is the best educational component
of an MAPF meeting at this point has been raised.  As an organization run
by volunteers, it's hard to keep up with the specific day-to-day unfolding
of a forestry reformation (viva la!), whereas shrubs are sort of general
and immutable.

Nonetheless, all MAPF members, state or private, are affected one way or
another by these unprecedented internet discussions and the serious issues
you're raising about consulting fees, licensing, the role of service
forestry, etc, even though many MAPF members may not even know it yet.

Why not call Anne Marie and get a slot in the business meeting, come to
that part of the meeting (even if driving to meetings is a waste of time,
it might be the last MAPF meeting you drive to) for some good old-fashioned
face to face contact?  I think it would help move the reformation forward.
Some foresters don't even have computers, never mind web pages (P.S. I'd
like to see a workshop on that someday), and even for us somewhat computer
literate people, a meeting every now and then makes the people on the net
more real.  If you don't show up in person, it's too easy for a lot of the
people you're addressing to officially ignore you - as you've said, your
conversations are traveling far and wide, but only a few people are
actually responding, even to refute.

Regarding MAPF as such, the organization is, by its very design, composed
mostly of Massachusetts-based foresters from a variety of state agencies,
along with consultants and industrial foresters, which is why MAPF is so
well-suited, in principle, TO STAKING OUT THE COMMON GROUND FORESTERS SHARE IN
MASSACHUSETTS (yes, there is much).  What MAPF is not suited to doing, though,
is representing the interests of consultants in particular.  MAPF can't be
faulted for this - it wasn't set up to be a consultants' group. The reason MAPF
is run largely by state employees (although one or two
consultants have been on the Exec. Comm. for a while) has more to do with
our own time-constraints of being self-employed than any kind of general
Uber/unter-menschen dichotomy.  Whether a two-caste system exists in other
specific situations is another matter.

Clearly, we consultants need our own "group" in Massachusetts.  And we're
not the only ones who would benefit, either.  With the vast bulk of
Massachusetts forest land in private hands, landowners and state agencies
also need a FUNCTIONING MASSACHUSETTS-BASED CONSULTING FORESTER GROUP - i.e., a
group they can sit down with.  Can it be done?

The limitations of time, money and will-power have probably prevented this
from happening so far, at least in recent years, but I think there are
possibilities now.  Joe and Karl have been pushing ahead with web pages and
everyone with email can see the potential for wide-ranging discussions to
develop via the internet, with minimal expense.  ACF may have something to
offer us (other than steep fees), although they seem better suited to the
larger "consultancies" with huge clients.  SAF - well, I'm unaware of
anything SAF (our national voice) has to offer to address the needs of
consultants in particular.  According to the March, 1998, Forestry Source
("Who we are: a look at the SAF membership"), only 3.45% of SAF members are
self employed, and only 14.88% call themselves field foresters.  Ideally
there should be some trickle down from SAF's massive lobbying efforts, long
history and large staff, but no one I've ever talked to outside of SAF's
actual or ex- members has ever heard of them or their efforts, for some
reason.

Apparently, something new is needed to deliver our message, negotiate
solutions to problems, and help people find us here in Massachusetts.  But
how to do this with such a cantankerous, individualistic, naturally
skeptical yet at times quite effective group with no common employer or gag
order and maybe not even a common philosophy of forest management without
cutting into the workweek too much?

The starting point is the fact that we, as private consultants, along with
the industrial foresters, do or should deliver the bulk of silviculturally
defensible forest management services in Massachusetts.  (I'm not saying
that Consultant per se equals far-sighted forestry, or that Industrial
Forester per se equals short-sighted forestry.)  Our primary competition is
not the state at all, but short-term oriented practices that undercut what
we're trying to do.  Our clients are landowners and/or municipalities, land
trusts, etc - i.e. people and organizations with money and political clout
(some more, some less, of course).  As their forest managers, and as
managers of the largest chunk of that resource which provides many public
goods and calendar photos, we have quite a reason to insist that people "in
control" listen (if not agree) in matters such as licensing, subcontracting
fees, service forestry, UMass continuing ed fees, etc.  And yet in the
process we don't need to step on the toes of those state agencies and
employees thereof who are doing good field or administrative forestry of
one kind or another and who want to work with us literally or in spirit
towards the larger goal of delivering sustainable forest management to the
Commonwealth and its landowners.

The impression we all get that so few people (even landowners) have ever
heard of "forestry in Massachusetts" or can distinguish a ranger from a
forester in a place that's mostly covered in trees, while so many concerned
citizens have heard of "deforestation" elsewhere on the globe, could mean
that we foresters might soon be following trappers into a Referendum-driven
early retirement or renegade existence.  Recently, public radio announced
(with a hint of sarcasm, I might add) the acting governor's veto of "a bill
to count trees in the state forests".  Somehow, even our chief politician
seems never to have heard of forestry or the extensive forests west of 495
- in any case, the practical message of forestry isn't making it out to the
people or our elected officials.  If we don't get our act together, we
consulting foresters might all be learning cold-calling or CAD/CAM in a few
years, or just raking leaves and sticks for that matter, while state
forestry personnel serve spongecake and spread bark mulch driven down from
Nova Scotia at an expanded system of foliage-encounter and native-tree
viewing areas.

Worst-case scenarios aside, all Massachusetts foresters, MAPF or non, have
an interest in building on this momentum and moving forward!






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