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Five Things We Learn From The Forests of California

Five Things We Learn From The Forests of California
Notes by J. Zimmerman, Ph.D.

From the tallest redwood and the bulkiest sequoia to the delicate scent of the western azalea, from tree sitting to tree harvesting, we can learn so much from our magnificent Californian forests...

1. Spirit of the Forest

Each forest gives opportunities for recreation, and for experiencing the beauty and splendor of the forest.

See for example Sacred forests, State Parks, and Defending the redwoods in Sonoma: how a neighborhood fought back.

2. Resources and Ecological Processes

Each forest contains one or more main ecological communities, such as the coast redwood forest community, the mixed evergreen forest community, chaparral community, and the riparian (riverbank) community.

Geology and meteorology, physics and chemistry, all contribute to the existence of forests.

Growth rings or tree rings provide a living history of the decades or centuries of a tree's life.

3. Forest History

Human habitation and use of the forests began long before the arrival of the Europeans. We will explore the history of forest use by the native Americans.

The arrival of Hispanics and their acquisition of property through Mexican land grants led to increased timber harvest. Harvests accelerated under the Northern Europeans, stimulated in part by the 1849 Gold Rush and its after-effects. As well as private forests, national, state, and local forests were created for preservation, enjoyment, research, and harvest.

4. Forest management of watersheds, fisheries, and timber.

A well-managed healthy forest sustains and may improve air and water quality, and the fish, plants, and wildlife. At the same time it provides opportunities for recreation. Such a forest is beautiful, a delight to be in.

Forest managers (especially in state-owned Demonstration Forests) demonstrate good forest-land stewardship. They attempt to promote forest and watershed health, while generating revenue. This is a delicate balance, part science, part passion.

At the core of good forest management is repect for the forest by all its users and use of Stewardship Guidelines.

5. The Forest's Regional Connections

Most forest managers and owners work with a forest’s neighbors to make the region safer and more beautiful.

They improve techniques to prevent and contain forest fire. They protect the watershed, and improve the quality of water available to neighbors downstream, and it increases the viability of state-protected fish.

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