Magazine article American Forests

A New Breed of Forester

Magazine article American Forests

A New Breed of Forester

Article excerpt

BOB PERSCHEL could be described as an activist, a forester and a leader in his field, but what stands out most about him is his passion for the mission. Brought on as executive director of the New England Forestry Foundation (NEFF) in early 2012, Perschel wasted no time in putting in motion a landmark report that not only describes a remarkable vision for sustainability as it relates to forests - calling for New England to preserve 30 million acres by 2060 - but also charts a course to achieve it. The report marks a culmination of the decades that Perschel has worked as anew breed of forester, one who helped shape aground-breaking manifesto of land ethics to prescribe a different kind of relationship with forests - a relationship in which the forests are valued for their inherent worth apart from human needs.

It's an idea that stretches back to Perschel's time with the Forest Guild, of which he was afounding member. "Our belief was that the forests have intrinsic value - that it's not all about us humans. And that was a switch. The guild set out the concept that if you're an employee of someone that is asking you to do what you think is the wrong thing to the forest, your obligation is to the forest and you should disassociate from the employer. In the profession it's very controversial. We took a stand. We work for the forest."

But as devoted as he is to the forest, Perschel'spath to this work wasn't a straight one. After graduating from Yale with a bachelor's degree in psychology, he got a job at IBM, figuring he would work for a while, save some money, then go to law or business school. But along the way, he got the suspicion that his path in life wasn't meant to follow that particular trail. He says, "I went out to sit under a tree and thought - now what do you really want to do? This is where I want to be, out here, but - how do you do that?" It was then that he made aturn. He decided to go back to school - Yale School of Forestry.

"I didn't go there to be a forester," says Perschel. "I had other ideas - like be an environmental planner. But I started taking forestry courses and that's when it hit me that this is a natural system that's intact, that also yields benefits for people. And we can help people know how to best manage it - keep it intact and also get the benefits. That's what really hooked me."

And many would say the forestry industry in New England is lucky he was hooked. "We needed a spark plug for the board and fellow staff," says Tim Ingraham, president of the board. "And that has been Bob. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.