Forest practices are the result of more than a century of experience from learning by doing and scientific study of the effects of forest management on the natural environment. Because forestry is a long-term investment, we can’t know everything today about resource management, so we use the best science to guide our actions.
Today’s forest companies employ scientists from a variety of disciplines including hydrologists, wildlife biologists, geomorphologists, and dendrologists. These scientists study a range of topics from silviculture, wildlife, soils, geology, disease, tree physiology, as well as all aspects of forest management and harvesting. Silviculture, the science of growing trees, has long been a part of forest management, but science wasn’t center stage in public policy discussions until the Timber, Fish, and Wildlife Agreement in the late 1980s. One of the policy leaders at the time, Stewart Bledsoe, marked this “new way of doing business” of relying on scientific research by stating, “we will go where the truth takes us.” From the Timber, Fish, and Wildlife Agreement onward cooperatively developed science has been used to provide information upon which forest practices policy discussions are based. Cooperative Monitoring, Evaluation, and Research (CMER) is now the basis for developing scientific information needed to assist policy makers and carry out the process of adaptive management.