On the 100th anniversary of UMaine's forestry program, researchers
share their vision of what the North Woods could be like a century from
tomorrow's forest managers
Getting an education in forest resources has changed from the 1920s
when students attending forestry camp lived alongside hard driving
loggers during a north woods winter. Forestry today is a high tech
balancing act of ecology, engineering, timber production, public
recreation and financial planning.
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Faculty insights on what it will take to balance competing demands
and sustained productivity in future forests are presented in their
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To the public, the North Woods has many
faces: a source of livelihood and forest products, a recreation and
sports destination, a wilderness to preserve and an undeveloped area
waiting to be tapped. Forestlands in Maine and beyond are cultural as
well as natural resources with economic, aesthetic and environmental
Underpinning all those expectations is the ability to manage forested
According to the Society of American Foresters, the United States has
about the same amount of woodlands — 747 million acres — as it did 100
years ago. However, the pressures on those resources are much greater
today than they were in 1903. In the next century, the capacity of our
woodlands will be challenged like never before.
Chief among those challenges is a growing world population, standing
today at about 6.3 billion and expected to double in the next 50 years.
"A growing population will put increasing demands on forest resources,"
says Bruce Wiersma, dean of the University of Maine College of Natural
Sciences, Forestry, and Agriculture. "As they have for centuries, our
forests must continue to contribute to this country's economic
foundation while increasingly being part of the global marketplace. The
economic benefits, whether realized in the form of forest products,
tourism or quality-of-life issues, are crucial to our future. Such
contributions to economic well-being help to stabilize the human
population and ultimately to protect the environment."
Clues to what the North Woods might look like 100 years from now are
rooted in the issues facing today's forests and the research being done
to secure their future. This year, the University of Maine celebrates
100 years of teaching and research in one of the country's
longest-running forestry programs. Its interdisciplinary approach to
forest management includes the study of soils and ecosystems, history
and climate change, wildlife and water quality. In the following pages,
UMaine faculty provide a glimpse of what it will take to balance
competing demands and sustained productivity in future forests.
by Nick Houtman
for more stories from this issue of UMaine Today Magazine.