Yale Bulletin and Calendar

May 10, 2002Volume 30, Number 29Two-Week Issue

School Forest Manager Alex Finkral and David Ellum, a doctoral student at F&ES, conduct a routine inspection of Yale-Myers Forest.

IN FOCUS: School of Forestry & Environmental Studies

F&ES lauded for its stewardship of Yale-Myers Forest

The School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (F&ES) won high marks for its management of the Yale-Myers Forest from two internationally recognized certification agencies promoting sustainable forestry.

Yale-Myers Forest is a 7,840-acre tract in northeastern Connecticut. It is among the 10,880 acres of forestland in Connecticut, New Hampshire and Vermont that are owned and managed by F&ES. Yale-Myers Forest is the school's largest parcel and its most active in terms of education, research and harvesting operations. It produces roughly 500,000 board-feet of timber annually, yielding an annual income of approximately $75,000, which covers administrative costs and the cost of part-time management staff comprised of F&ES faculty and students.

Yale's school forests are managed not so much as sources of profit but as "working" forests -- as a demonstration that forests can be managed for goods and services (especially timber) in a way that does not compromise their long-term health, according to Mark Ashton, director of school forests and professor of silviculture and forest ecology. The school forests also provide a hands-on laboratory for teaching and offer a permanent site for short- and long-term research.

Research and education are a fundamental goal of Yale's school forests, notes Ashton, pointing out that stewardship for natural resources was the reason F&ES was founded. That mission, he notes, permeates "just about everything the school does." Taking part in the forest certification process allowed F&ES faculty, students and others to learn how certifiers measure stewardship, he says. (See related story.)

The audits of Yale-Myers Forest were conducted by Scientific Certification Systems of Oakland, California, which is accredited by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), an international nonprofit organization that promotes sustainable forestry, and by Andersen/InterForest of Branford, Connecticut, a consulting company licensed to do third-party verification under the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) system, a program of the American Forest and Paper Association.

F&ES staff prepared and supplied the auditors with hundreds of pages of documentation describing Yale's forest management policies, procedures and practices. In late October, the two auditors visited the school for a day to interview forest management staff. The auditors then spent three days conducting field reviews in the forest, inspecting timber sales from the past two to three years, as well as those marked for sale in the near future.

"They wanted to see how we had laid everything out, that any tree to be harvested is painted and tallied," says John McKenna, an F&ES graduate who was hired to oversee the audits. "They looked at what we're trying to achieve, what wood is coming out and is going to sale, and most important, what is left behind to regenerate or continue growing. They were looking at how our roads and skid trails are laid out to ensure they're not causing erosion or affecting wildlife. With the documentation they see it on paper, but out in the field they can see it in practice."

Auditors also surveyed people at the school and in the community surrounding the forest to determine how the school's management record is viewed by concerned constituents.

The two agencies concluded that Yale's stewardship of the forest had been exemplary.

"It is extremely rare for an evaluation team to recommend certification without conditions, as was the case for Yale," said David Wager, director of forest management certification for FSC's Scientific Certification Systems.

The FSC evaluation team found numerous strengths of Yale's forest management, including:

* The sustainable harvest program is supported by an up-to-date timber inventory and by stand exams every seven years.

* Timber stands on the Yale-Myers forest are consistently well stocked with high-quality growing stock. Yale's foresters have a clearly demonstrable record of tending stands to maintain health and vigor.

* Forest managers work closely with the logging contractor to develop markets and improve wood utilization.

* Staff includes internationally recognized experts in stand dynamics who understand the ecological importance of stand structure.

* Yale practices restoration and stewardship of a forest previously degraded by agriculture.

* Yale pays careful attention to soil productivity, wetlands, streams and riparian areas.

* Forestry operations are managed in a fiscally conservative manner.

* Forest management staff have excellent relationships with graduate students and outside contractors who work on the forest.

Mike Ferrucci, the lead auditor for SFI, says: "Our SFI audit team was quite impressed with the quality and condition of the Yale-Myers Forest. The results of sound practices employed by generations of Yale foresters, both faculty and student-managers, are clearly visible within this landscape of hillside forest and bottomland wetlands. We also noted the degree to which students are involved in hands-on management and research here, which we think aligns well with the role of the forest as a core part of Yale's educational and scientific research missions."

The verification team also found that Yale's program "exceeds the SFI standard in the protection and management of special sites, in the protection of water quality, and in managing visual impacts of harvesting and other forest operations," says Ferrucci.

Michael Washburn, F&ES research scholar and director of the program on forest certification, says, "Given Yale's long tradition of working to strengthen the practice of forest management, we believe we manage our forest well. From one perspective, the certification process tested us. People may ask, 'Why did we need third-party review? We know we're doing it well.' But why not test them? If ours didn't pass, we were prepared to look pretty hard at the process and standards."


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President Levin visiting Mexico

Improving science education and research in U.S. is key . . .

African American Studies revisits origins, imagines future


Future of therapeutic cloning is focus of bioethics symposium

IN FOCUS: School of Forestry & Environmental Studies

Forest 'physician' contends fire is critical to health of woodlands

Event explores how humans transformed 'The Chicken'

Press director to bid farewell to venture he helped build

Committee to help search for new Yale Press director

Exhibit features noted American artist's woodcuts

Quilts by African-American women of the rural South are on view

Yale golfers and tennis players are bound for the NCAA

Long-time teacher Charles Rickart dies; helped introduce 'new math'

Sociologist Roger Gould, a specialist on conflict and violence, dies

Homebuyer Program is extended with a special incentive

Yale Library launching changes to Orbis

Yale Center for British Art temporarily closing library collections this summer

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