Forestry and Conservation, although inherently kindred interests, have recently diverged to the point of antagonism. Why is this, and how can they be brought together again?
John Evelyn, a founder of forestry, as a matter of public policy, presented it as of much wider significance than the production of timber alone. During the past century, however, a narrower and more materialist approach has prevailed, ignoring the relationship between land, men, and science, and creating conflicts between foresters and conservationists. It is probably common ground that until very recently much of the training of professional foresters has been inadequate to equip them for appreciating the broader role of forestry and for communicating with fellow interests in land-use.
Conservationists equally suffer from deformations arising from their early struggles. They tend to line up in two groups—the ‘polarizers’ who are heirs of the pioneer missionary and compaigning stage, and the ‘integrators’ who are more concerned to find operators in the area of natural resources who are ready to cooperate in acceptable compromises.
Many current practices in forestry unfortunately tend to repel the ‘integrators’ and to drive conservationists into adopting ‘polarizer’ attitudes. Forest managers are at last becoming aware of this problem, and to the importance of decision-making on the basis of underlying scientific principles and facts, which can enable a joint strategy to be developed between foresters and conservationists for the wise and balanced long-term use of the vast forest resource.