Magazine article American Forests

History + Change = Future

Magazine article American Forests

History + Change = Future

Article excerpt

By knowing our history we can successfully move into the future.

It is said that the moro things change, the more they stay the same. But I never believed it. History is past. Change looks forward, rear-ranging things for a new order. There's a lot about change in this issue of AMERICAN FORESTS. Thanks partly to the recent United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, our changing climate is the focus of debate and media coverage everywhere one looks. American Forests has been a leading advocate of the role of trees and forests in helping counteract the effects of climate change. Astute members have already started calling AMERICAN FORESTS to ask what trees to plant in light of a warming environment. In these pages, Cristina Santiestevan begins the dialogue to answer this tricky question as she details the changes to our forests that climate change will bring.

Change can be good or bad. The loss of the iconic American chestnut tree, once estimated to have made up three-quarters of the eastern forests, was bad; its rebirth is very good. Tom Horton heralds the return of the mighty chestnut to the American landscape with a triumphant call to action for each of us to do our part in saving this most valuable and symbolic species by planting new chestnuts for today and for tomorrow.

Like the chestnut, many ancient tree species - some of which remain with us today, like the graceful ginkgo and the recently discovered Wollemi pine - survived massive change along with other flora and fauna. Whit Bronaugh takes us back millennia to witness change on a grand scale. It's fascinating to hypothesize how the megafauna of North America exploited the vegetation of the time, and how that vegetation survives today with its unique adaptations intact.

AMERICAN FORESTS is an organization with a unique history, now entering its 135th year of policy advocacy and conservation action. Over our many decades of existence, we have also experienced change, both good and bad. The science of forests is better understood with each passing year, and our programs and policy outreach have been tuned and refined to reflect our growing understanding of the emerging science of trees and forests. For instance, while we've done well to remember the vital role of forests in protecting and cleaning drinking water, we have also learned about forests' role in cleaning our air. …

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