In today’s fast-changing world, taking care of forests and managing them in a sustainable way has become very important for dealing with environmental problems. Active forest management means intentionally and thoughtfully taking action in forests to achieve specific goals related to protecting nature, keeping ecosystems healthy, and helping communities thrive. Instead of leaving everything to nature alone, this approach involves responsible practices that focus on long-term sustainability. By actively managing forests, we can find a good balance between human needs and preserving natural ecosystems.
- Including Traditional Owners and Forest Stewardship: One important part of active forest management is involving the indigenous people who have a deep connection to the land and special knowledge. Indigenous communities have been sustainably managing forests for generations, considering how humans, plants, and animals all depend on each other. Their traditional knowledge passed down through generations, gives us valuable insights into maintaining the delicate balance of ecosystems. Working together with traditional owners not only respects their rights and culture but also makes forest management practices more effective. In Victoria, the Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation (DJAARA) has been actively involved in restoring the Wombat State Forest after severe storms in 2021.
- Environmental Benefits:
Active forest management brings several environmental benefits that contribute to the overall health of our planet:
- Preserving Biodiversity: By using active management techniques like selective logging and controlled burns, we can create diverse forest structures that resemble natural patterns of disturbance. This helps different plant species grow, preserves habitats for wildlife, and increases overall biodiversity.
- Capturing Carbon: Forests act as “carbon sinks” by absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Active management practices, such as replanting and sustainable timber harvesting, ensure that forests keep growing and continue to capture and store carbon. This helps reduce the impacts of climate change.
- Reducing Fire Risks: Proper forest management helps lower the risk of large and destructive bushfires. Strategies like thinning dense forests, creating firebreaks, and controlled burns are used to minimize the intensity and spread of bushfires, protecting communities and ecosystems.
- Socioeconomic Benefits:
Active forest management offers significant advantages for local communities and society as a whole:
- Economic Opportunities: Harvesting timber sustainably and engaging in other forest-related activities provide jobs and support local economies. By actively managing forests, we can generate income, encourage entrepreneurship, and create sustainable livelihoods for communities living in and around forested areas.
- Renewable Materials: Wood is a completely renewable resource. Investing in timber means investing in a material that can be used in many different ways, from building frames and paper to furniture. Wood and wood fibre has numerous applications.Avel Chuklanov (Unsplash)
- Community Resilience: Collaborative forest management practices empower local communities and traditional owners by involving them in decision-making processes. This inclusiveness strengthens social bonds, preserves cultural identities, and creates a sense of responsibility and ownership towards forest resources.
- Recreation and Tourism: Well-managed forests provide spaces for outdoor activities, opportunities for eco-tourism, and educational experiences for visitors. Forest trails, camping sites, and nature reserves attract tourists, benefiting local businesses and raising awareness about the importance of environmental conservation.
In Victoria, we have over 8 million hectares of forests on public land, with half of them dedicated to conservation and not available for timber production. Additionally, there are 1.5 million hectares of forests on private land. Timber can only be harvested from a small area within forests designated for multiple uses, such as state and regional parks, plantations, and private land forests. Active forest management involves not only harvesting but also planting, growing, and nurturing forests. In Victoria alone, plantation forestry plants around 15 million trees each year, which helps remove more carbon from the atmosphere.
Embracing active forest management is not only a responsible choice but also a strategic one for protecting our environment and building sustainable communities. By incorporating the knowledge of traditional owners, we can create a collaborative approach that respects cultural heritage while addressing urgent environmental challenges. Active forest management offers a balanced mix of ecological, economic, and social benefits. It helps preserve biodiversity, mitigate climate change, and enhance community resilience. It’s time we recognize the importance of this approach and support the collective effort towards a more sustainable future.