Comment: Re Agenda 21/ICLEI

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Re Agenda 21/ICLEI

Thank you for your interest in the topic. I'm not an expert here, but I'll try to answer your questions. Actually, it doesn't appear to me that we disagree on much other than the quantity of trees in the 1600's vs. today. I can't find a source that says there's been an increase. The Appalachian Hardwood Manufacturers, Inc. website has a brief primer on U.S. forests, with a page on "Quantity." (http://www.appalachianwood.org/forestry/quantity.htm) They say that America was once half covered with forest, now a third. Wikipedia's "Deforestation in U.S." says the same.

It's my understanding that upon arrival in America, we plundered forests. But there were then conservation and planting efforts as well as the adoption of so-called sustainable farming practices. As a result, it is true that we now have more forestland vs. a century ago. And I think that's a good thing given the importance of forests re air quality, water tables and water quality, and wildlife, and I'll add, beautification, along with the wood they also provide and, for many, recreation.

However, it's not only the quantity of trees to be taken into account when evaluating the situation, but also the *quality* of forests. The forests that colonists were met with were "old growth" trees. American trees of all types included those that used to be huge. Large, strong trees can better sustain disasters such as hurricanes and fires, as well as better fend off disease. There are also implications to wildlife. In this article, which pertains to Maryland, the section "Colonial Times to the Present" portrays a picture of the 1600's such as you described: http://www.dnr.state.md.us/forests/aghistory.asp Unfortunately, some tree species hit with disease have already died out, such as the chestnut; others are faring rather poorly. See "America's Trees are Dying" - http://www.jayhanson.us/page47.htm

I was aware that native American Indians used fire re forest management. If I recall correctly, I think Tom Wessels (Reading The Forested Landscape) also described that park-like look via pruning and clearing of understory brush. Fresh air helps all living things. :) But to your point, yes, it diminished wildfire risk! Whether or not you're from the Northeast, I really think you'd enjoy the book. It's amazing how resilient trees are, or rather, how resilient they can be when there are healthy forests. Wessels will go into a forest and, from the bark or some other signs, identify *what* a particular tree had survived and *when*. Trees are telling! (Like a detective, he's able to walk into a forest and tell a lot about the history of a place.) I'm aware there is some controversy, but I don't have any problem with controlled burning. (Nor fire lanes.) It appears that controlled burns do remain one of our forest management practices. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Controlled_burn

My point about having large tracts of *contiguous* forestland did not pertain to an increase in forests, per se, but *configuration*. Wildlife doesn't adhere to the arbitrary geopolitical boundaries of a town, county, or state! And certain species require large areas in which they can roam. So it is beneficial when areas of forested acreage can be connected. Planning can take this into account. No one said to eliminate towns--- well, maybe the UN has said it! (Did you see that map of the U.S. in the UN's Agenda 21?!) But I don't advocate that. Nor do I advocate forcing anyone off his property; I'm against eminent domain. But where land is available, yes, it could be bought by local governments to be planted and preserved. I don't have the book handy, so I forget how it was accomplished in New England. But it wasn't by some overseeing government body's mandate, but rather voluntary cooperation.

What is happening in New York is the creation by Governor Cuomo of these United Nations Agenda 21/ICLEI-inspired appointed regional environmental boards. What I was trying to say, in general, was that there were other ways to deal with environmental issues: first (if government was to be involved), within the framework of the representative government we already have (the more local the better); second, voluntary cooperation; and third, free-market, business solutions. P.S. Free-market means just that. It does not mean public-private partnerships, as per my reply to a comment below.

I agree with you that some environmentalists do take humans out of the equation, and that's wrong. Yet, in the past, I've been chagrined to see certain tv personalities (like Sean Hannity) mock issues re endangered species, when they don't have an understanding of how plants, animals, and humans are interrelated. Furthermore, anomalies in certain "bellwether" species, such as gross anomalies seen now in frogs, what are left of them (not that they are only specie in which such things can be observed) need to be seen for what it is: the specie's disappearance or malformations should serve as a warning that nature is out of balance. Unless we heed the warning, sooner or later it will be the lives and sustenance of human beings endangered. Maintaining the balance is really the key here, with the health and well being of human beings our top priority.

Again, thanks for your comment.

When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.
~ John Muir