Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Quintus Herron and Sustainable Tree Farming

We interviewed Quintus Herron in Idabel, Oklahoma about his many years of sustainable forestry and tree farming in McCurtain County as well as he and his wife's founding of the Museum of the Red River, an outgrowth of their collection of Indian art and artifacts. He is a very engaging, charming man with a fascinating life story of many years. His grounds which you can see are behind us are very much like an arboretum and we drove around his beautiful acreage and saw his wildflower meadows, the diversity of beautiful trees and even a cypress swamp. He maintains his land as a preserve and Henry Moy, Director of the Museum of the Red River said that he hopes to leave it for posterity as a preserve.

Quintus's Cypress Swamp

Some of Quintus's collection at his home
Quintus told us about how for many years he did careful selective cutting in the forests leaving many of his trees to grow for 40 years and then as the market changed and became all about construction lumber with an emphasis on 2x4, 2x6 etc he now works with a thirty year model in tree farming gradually cutting out what he joking called "The Fran Trees" because he knew I loved twisted knobby trees that show the effects of their long existence in the elements. The Fran Trees will be used for other purposes like pulp and eventually after 30 years they will do a harvest cut of the large straight 30 year old trees and begin the cycle all over with replanting. He made it very clear that these are tree farms as opposed to the way he manages his preserve. He does this on very flat land and takes other precautions to prevent topsoil from washing away as opposed to the clearcutting of large swathes of trees allowing hillsides to erode as we see in unsustainable forestry practices. His older tree farms do not look monoculture as they are full of wildlife and diversity although the trees he harvests are all pines which the construction market demands. 

Herron Tree Farm

We met Quintus the next day to tour his tree farms and have him explain the process in more detail. He gave me a beautiful little locally hand crafted wooden bowl with lots of gnarly bark in areas and worm holes etc. I treasure it. He said it reminded him of me and he also joking called me 'nature girl'. Quintus is so much fun and has a great sense of humor as well as a big heart. He also started the Forest Heritage Museum which we did not have time to visit alas. It also contains a great deal of wood sculpture. 
When Bob downloads the footage he shot of the Museum of the Red River I will be blogging on their inspirational collection. Thanks to their director Henry Moy we were also lodged and fed while we were in Idabel.

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Sustainable forest management (SFM) is the management of forests according to the principles of sustainable development. Sustainable forest management uses very broad social, economic and environmental goals. A range of forestry institutions now practice various forms of sustainable forest management and a broad range of methods and tools are available that have been tested over time.
The "Forest Principles" adopted at The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 captured the general international understanding of sustainable forest management at that time. A number of sets of criteria and indicators have since been developed to evaluate the achievement of SFM at both the country and management unit level. These were all attempts to codify and provide for independent assessment of the degree to which the broader objectives of sustainable forest management are being achieved in practice. In 2007, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Non-Legally Binding Instrument on All Types of Forests. The instrument is the first of its kind, and reflects the strong international commitment to promote implementation of sustainable forest management through a new approach that brings all stakeholders together.
A definition of SFM was developed by the Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe MCPFE), and has since been adopted by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).[1] It defines sustainable forest management as:
The stewardship and use of forests and forest lands in a way, and at a rate, that maintains their biodiversity, productivity, regeneration capacity, vitality and their potential to fulfill, now and in the future, relevant ecological, economic and social functions, at local, national, and global levels, and that does not cause damage to other ecosystems.
In simpler terms, the concept can be described as the attainment of balance - balance between society's increasing demands for forest products and benefits, and the preservation of forest health and diversity. This balance is critical to the survival of forests, and to the prosperity of forest-dependent communities.
For forest managers, sustainably managing a particular forest tract means determining, in a tangible way, how to use it today to ensure similar benefits, health and productivity in the future. Forest managers must assess and integrate a wide array of sometimes conflicting factors - commercial and non-commercial values, environmental considerations, community needs[2], even global impact - to produce sound forest plans. In most cases, forest managers develop their forest plans in consultation with citizens, businesses, organizations and other interested parties in and around the forest tract being managed. The tools and visualization have been recently evolving for better management practices[3].
Because forests and societies are in constant flux, the desired outcome of sustainable forest management is not a fixed one. What constitutes a sustainably managed forest will change over time as values held by the public change.



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