EI: Religion and Forest Conservation - A conference

Joseph Zorzin redoak at forestmeister.com
Tue Nov 7 14:30:19 EST 2000

Paul Senez wrote:

> =====  A message from the 'ecoforestry' discussion list  =====
> -----Original Message-----
> Religion and Forest Conservation
>     A Conference Exploring  Opportunities for Cooperation
>     between Organized Religion and Forest Conservation

Heck, why wait until then, we could discuss these issues here in the ecoforestry

> December 8-10, 2000
> Kanuga Conference Center
> Hendersonville, North Carolina
>  Introduction
> Throughout the United States and around the world, forests are under attack.
> The primary causes are industrial logging,  excessive consumer demand, air
> pollution,  opportunistic diseases, and the by-products of a way of life out
> of balance with the earth's biological systems. In recent decades,
> conservationists have waged a valiant effort to stop destruction of public
> forests. They see the non-economic values of forests as far greater than the
> value of trees as timber or pulp.

True enough, but that value should not be used to stop all silviculture on public
land. If harvesting is done at the right scale, and done intelligently as part of
an ecoforestry plan then we can have both.

> Churches and synagogues agree. From a
> religious perspective, trees are more than plants. They are the biblical
> emblem of God's good earth. As forests
> flourish, air is clean, water is pure, animal species thrive, and earth
> provides for human needs. Trees are also the lungs of the earth. Today
> earth's "lungs" are in a state of acute disease.

But the cure isn't to stop all logging, it's to convert the poor forestry
practices into high quality forestry practices.

> Religion is concerned about
> forest conservation because it is concerned with a right relationship to God
> and neighbors. We cannot be right with God without also being right with our
> neighbor and the earth.

I don't think we need to bring God into the debate over forestry. That will only
complicate matters. <G>

> Therefore, as forests decline, statements on forest
> conservation are proliferating from every faith tradition. They declare that
> the present cutting and the utilitarian assumptions about forests are
> short-sighted and immoral.

And they would also be considered "short-sighted and immoral" to atheists with
common sense.

> Yet forest conservationists and people of faith
> have worked separately.Cooperation will bring new vigor and greater
> effectiveness to efforts to protect our forests and preserve what is left of
> our wild heritage. "A Vision which Connects" In the national dialogue on
> forest issues  two additional ingredients are needed:
> a sense of the sacredness of God's creation  (its intrinsic value)

It is sacred to me too, yet I'm a semi atheist- which only sounds like a
contradiction. <G>

> and a
> vision of how forest conservation connects to other social issues. If society
> is to address the issues of forest preservation,

The "forestry problem" isn't just about "forest preservation"  - it's about
intelligent stewardship over our planet. Some forest should be preserved as
wilderness and parks, some lightly managed, some more intensely managed, and
maybe some intensely managed. There is room for all under the big tent of the
man/Earth interface.

> it must also address the
> underlying materialistic, utilitarian vision which has captivated our
> national thinking.
> "Without vision, the people perish!" This is the heart of our ecological
> predicament. A comprehensive view of creation begins with a religious vision
> which touches every aspect of society. Once we articulate a right
> relationship to
> forests and clarify our vision, we open the way to a right relationship to
> every other dimension of life and land. With a worldview which integrates
> sond science and basic religious belief, we can address forest issues and the
> underlying ethical and social failures which cause creation's degradation.

Let's keep religion out of this. Those "underlying ethical and social failures"
have more to do with the filthy habits of the naked apes, who must clean up their
act before the planet fights back. All that negative karma is building.

> This empowers our ability to reach beyond symptoms — the specifics of
> degradation and pollution — into the underlying causes which manifest in
> ecological destruction.
> Girded by "a vision which connects," we will be empowered to mobilize a
> broad coalition, representing many sectors of society, to END industrial
> logging on public lands

Just keep in mind that there are other forms of forestry so we don't need to stop
all logging on public lands. However, the cutbacks in recent years on USFS land
has helped raised timber stumpage prices in New England- which has benefited me
as a consultant. However, I think good forestry is a good thing- so on any
ownership with tens of millions of acres of land, I strongly believe that there
is a place for intelligent silviculture carried out with ecological sensitivity
and economic common sense.

> and save what is left of our once grand wilderness
> heritage.

I can dig it.

> The Conference Participants and organizational representatives
> will grapple with all the issues facing forest preservation. In the process
> we will formulate specific plans for moving religious institutions into
> broader cooperation
> with forest conservation groups. Plenary sessions with religious, academic,
> governmental and forest conservation leaders will mix with discussions and
> small committee planning to provide a forum to sort out the issues facing our
> forests.
> Our goal is a more vigorous campaign to promote forest conservation for
> American wildlands. At the heart of the strategic planning challenge is the
> need to see beyond specific issues of environmental degradation to their
> underlying roots. To mount a successful campaign to save our forests, a
> number of different
> concerns must be addressed simultaneously. Some initial topics include:  *
> Articulating a national strategic plan
>   *  Raising public awareness about forests
>   *  Stopping the advance of new chip mills

Chip mills aren't necessarily a bad thing. The real issue is how well the forest
land that yields the chips is managed. It could be well managed according to
ecoforestry principals.

>   *  Preserving ancient forests
>   *  Ending commercial logging on public land

Not ending it, but doing it right. It can be both ecologically right and
economically right generating a profit for the ownership, the public.

>   *  Building healthy rural communities
>   *  Developing cooperative religious-forest conservation action
>   *  A declaration for forestry in the 21st century
>   *  The overarching vision
> Participation
> Any person who accepts the purposes of this conference and who supports the
> growing  effort to end commercial logging on public land may
> attend.

I would contend that declaring the ending of all logging on public land as some
sort of basic virtue is a drastic mistake. Logging isn't in itself evil, it's how
it's done. The forests can be "preserved" without all of them being locked up.
Some should be locked up, but not all. The real question is how much?

> Registration
> To register, please complete the attached form and send it and your fees to
> our office.
> There are two fees: the facility fee and the conference registration fee.
> (1) The facility fee is $90.
> This includes six meals and a double-occupancy room for two nights.
> (2) The registration fee is a sliding scale of between $37 to $537.
> Contribute according to your ability.
> If you plan to attend, please register early.
> If you have questions, please call our office at (707) 573-3162.
> Conference Sponsors (partial)
> Many religious, conservation, civic, social, and student groups are joining
> to sponsor this event. A few of the initial co-sponsors include:
> Episcopal Appalachian Ministries (EAM), Dogwood Alliance, the Coalition on
> Religion in Appalachia (CORA), American Lands Association, Christians
> Caring for Creation, Kids Against Pollution, Roman Catholic Franciscan JPIC
> committee, The Sierra Club (ECL campaign), Bay chapter of the Coalition on
> the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL), Student Environmental Action
> Coalition, Virginia Forest Watch, Immaculate Conception Catholic Church,
> National Forest Protection Association, and Restore the North Woods, among
> many others.
> Registration Form (individuals)
> To attend, please fill out the form below and enclose your registration fee.
> The registration fee is a sliding scale of between $37 to $537. Contribute
> according to your ability. Registration fees cover the cost of speakers,
> administration and scholarships. In addition double-occupancy room and meal
> costs are $90 per person for the entire weekend.
> Name___________________________________
> Address _______________________________
> City, State, Zip_______________________
> Telephone _____________________________
> E-Mail_________________________________
>    Registration fee:    $ _____________
>    Room and six meals   $ _____90______
>    Scholarship fund     $ _____________
>    Total enclosed:      $ _____________
> Please make checks payable to "RCFC."
> Mail to:
> Religious Campaign for Forest Conservation
> 409 Mendocino Avenue, Suite A
> Santa Rosa, CA   95401-8513
> If you are unable to attend, please consider a donation to our scholarship
> fund.
> Upon registration an information packet will be mailed to you. For further
> information, please call (707) 573-3162

Joe  Zorzin, Ecoforester

The Ecoforestry Institute at http://ecoforestry.ca/
The Forest Steward's Guild at http://www.foreststewardsguild.com/
The Trumpeter - Journal of Ecosophy at http://trumpeter.athabascau.ca/
Wild Earth- The Journal of Wildlands Recovery and Protection at

"Be still like a mountain and flow like a great river." Lao Tse

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