The new buzzword in the woods is "ecological forestry," to replace "new forestry," which academics advocated and promoted in the 1990s. I applaud the desire to provide ecosystem management that somewhat mimics nature, but I often question motives (i.e., "to get the cut out"). What "A New Forest Paradigm" fails to acknowledge is that every timber stand is different, and even professors Jerry Franklin and Norm Johnson recognize the need for different strategies in moist forests on the Cascades' Westside versus dry Eastside forests (HCN, 4/29/13).
For the benefit of plants and animals, it's commendable that forest managers recognize the need for increasing diversity in residual timber stands, but the "variable retention harvesting" proposed on pilot projects here in Douglas County isn't exactly new. It's been implemented and has shown promise in Canada. Diversity results from opening the canopy, letting in light, allowing natural regeneration, leaving snags, protecting streams and providing downed wood. A key to the success of demonstration projects will be adaptive management and a willingness to learn from mistakes.
It's also admirable that forest managers want to do both ecological and economic good to get us beyond the gridlock of the past. Yet, some environmentalists still refuse to admit that there is gridlock. They've dug in their heels and see no need to work together or compromise. They should come around and join the team working for the collective good. Thus, integrated "active management" approaches for our forests do have merit if they focus on the environment and economy, as well as social solutions. There are many tenets for successful collaborative efforts, but the first few must be mutual trust, open communication, shared goals and respect for differing viewpoints.