article by Jim Coufal in Duh Forestry Source

Joseph Zorzin redoak at
Fri Nov 24 04:58:59 EST 2000

In the latest SAF "Forestry Source" "rag", Jim Coufal, past
president of the SAF, wrote the following in "All Foresters Need to
Have Common Core of Knowledge"

> A thoughtful critic of forestry

Jim, you should have given the name of that critic and his
expertise. Was that critic our mutual friend Bob Leverett? If not,
who was it?

> strongly believes that our
> profession needs to offer two distinct education degree
> programs: one in industrial or production forestry and the other
> with an ecoforestry or ecological restoration bent. The latter
> would primarily be for public land managers because the critic
> can't imagine ecoforestry working for private companies or
> consultants.

With some rare exceptions of course, like members of the Forest
Steward's Guild.

> He believes it is an exercise in self-delusion to
> try to successfully cultivate a "priest-warrior" in the same
> body and then maintain that those diametrically opposed roles
> are compatible.

Well, actually I think it can be done which is not to say that I
disagree with the critic about 2 forms of forestry education.

> I have at least two problems with his idea. First, it divides,
> rather than unifies, our profession,

Then it would become 2 professions! Such things do happen. It's
known as a schism! Sometimes it's necessary.

> and it sows the seeds of
> further dissension within forestry.

It would also bring more honesty to the public and landowners- so
that they would understand that one side is mostly concerned with
the short term profit for themselves and uses lies and propaganda
while the other side is taking the long view for Mother Earth and
the landowner.

> His choice of analogy of a
> priest-warrior hints at this, because it is clear that to him
> that the "priests" would be the ecoforesters and the "warriors"
> would be the production foresters. Thus, the high moral ground
> is already claimed and discussion is not necessary.
> Second, is there no core of knowledge that all foresters should
> possess to be called "forester?" I think so, and the recent SAF
> Task Force on Forestry Education Accreditation does as well. Its
> recommendations are extremely important, because accreditation
> standards and membership criteria, which are obviously related,
> are the two things that define our profession.

Again, maybe the profession is due for a schism with 2 major
differences in perspectives. yin and yang- and a few Zen foresters
who can fuse the 2.

> In response to its charter, the task force concluded

But, maybe that task force should have included people from outside
the profession to avoid the taint of inbreeding which often happens
in some trades professions- to allow a better perspective.

> that
> accreditation standards are .still relevant and needed. The task
> force looked at a number of accreditation models. Most notably,
> it examined a model of core competencies necessary for all
> forestry graduates and, therefore, a single accreditation
> standard. It also examined a model in which specialties such as
> urban, wildlife, recreation, engineering, and timber would have
> separate standards and therefore lead to several sets of
> accreditation standards. SAF would thus explicitly accredit
> programs in the various specialties.

Why not ecoforestry? Are you afraid of such a specialty?

> The task force's recommendation is that SAF accreditation be
> focused on core forestry education competencies that must be met
> by all programs offering a professional forestry degree. Keep in
> mind that accreditation is of programs, not individuals. Thus,
> the task force recommended that, apart from accreditation, SAF
> develop a series of certification procedures and standards for
> specialized areas of forestry wherein individuals are certified.
> A significant change from current procedures would be that
> accreditation involve an "output" model instead of the current
> "input" model. In the latter, the fact that the right subjects
> are being taught by qualified faculty,

Hmmm.... so who determines what a qualified faculty is? I've know
quite a few forestry faculty, and I consider most of them
unqualified. This "profession" is so inbred that it's impossible for
the SAF or any other internal group to make such determination. And
who determines what "right subjects" are? More outsiders are needed.
The outsiders are impacted by the actions/failures of foresters.

> for example, assumes that
> graduates have the necessary knowledge and competencies to be
> foresters,

Most fresh forestry graduates are grossly incompetent to actually do
forestry work. You wouldn't know that because you haven't spent you
life surviving in the real world actually having to do forestry. To
much of the SAF, doing forestry means living off of the welfare
checks given to you by the government- not by actually serving
clients who must be pleased with your work because you produced some
value for them- for which you receive some small portion of that
wealth produced.

> The recommended output model requires 44 outcomes
> assessment," not on an individual basis but for graduates as a
> group.
> The heart of the report is a set of "minimum, entry-level
> forestry occupational competencies and curriculum. topics" with
> the focus on acquired competencies. The curriculum standard
> includes the areas of general education (which includes
> communications; science and mathematics biology; social
> sciences and humanities;

which should include courses in political science

> critical reasoning and ethics; human
> behavior and computer literacy) and professional education
> (including ecology and biology measurement of forest resources;
> management of forest resources; and forest resource policy and
> administration).
> More details are in the report, and your comments and questions
> on the task force report are welcomed. (The report is available
> on the SAF website at; look under "Education" and
> then "Accreditation." But whether "Production forester" or
> "ecoforester" (and why shouldn't they be the same?) all
> foresters need to have a common core of understanding knowledge,
> and competence.
> James E. Coufal, SAF's immediate past-president, is professor
> emeritus a the State University of New York College of
> Environmental Science and Forestry.

You are wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. What you describe above has been
the education policy for generations. It has done a lousy job.
Forestry education must become more like the professions of law and
medicine. You don't get a BS in law or medicine. For them you have
to go to "professional school" after you get your undergrad degree.
A mere BS degree is insufficient because with just that you can't
get enough education in both ecology/biology and natural resource
techniques- not even for the least important work- since even THAT
is so important to the future of the human race and the survival of
a healthy ecosystem.

What the SAF should be calling for is a drastically revised
preparation for this profession to make it into a REAL profession.
It should be as follows:

1. undergrad degree in biology/ecology/geology
2. summers prior to getting their undergrad degree should be spent
enriching their eco consciousness by working in National Parks or
for various eco groups and long backpacking trips in wilderness
3. then go to forestry "professional school" for another 3-4 years,
taking the standard forestry/wildlife courses but from a more
sophisticated point of view- not so oriented towards economic
production- oriented more towards the long term needs of the human
race and the planet's ecological balance
4. summers during this "professional school" should be spent working
as a field forester doing routine work but having to file reports on
how this routine work serves the purpose of not just the forest
owner (private or public) but also serves the long term needs of the
human race and the needs of the planet's ecology
5. after graduating from the "professional school", the young
forester shall have to spend at least 5 more years working in the
field "practicing forestry"- getting dirty and sweaty- doing
silviculture with great sensitivity to the local, regional, and
planetary ecology- with a full understanding of the real economics
of forestry (see Karl Davies essay on the 3-5% scam at and the
politics of forestry (see my web page at
6. finally, after all of the above, the young forester will qualify
for a forester license (because the states will get enlightened and
expect all of the above)

The above training will produce an ecoforester who is qualified to
economically manage any forest while also being fully in harmony
with the planetary ecology. There is no inhabitant contradiction
between good economic forestry and good ecology- BECAUSE THEY ARE
to the world by the lies and propaganda of the existing forestry
establishment that is in conflict with good planetary ecology.

So, Jim, the problem is that the SAF and its leaders are incapable
of showing genuine vision because the profession is so inbred as to
be blind to the full possibilities. As it is now, this profession
has the sophistication level of the "plumbing profession" without
all their money. <G>

(please forward this message to other forestry/ecology lists)
Joe  Zorzin, Ecoforester

The Ecoforestry Institute at
The Forest Steward's Guild at
The Trumpeter - Journal of Ecosophy at
Wild Earth- The Journal of Wildlands Recovery and Protection at
SILVA Forest Foundation at

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

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