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Two Books to Broaden Your Perspectives on the Timber Debate

Two Books to Broaden Your Perspectives on the Timber Debate

Ancient Forests of the Pacific Northwestby Elliot Norse, The Wilderness Society, 1990, 328 pages. ($19.95 pb.; Island Press, P.O. Box 7, Covelo, CA 95428; 707/983-6432).

This well-written book provides a comprehensive overview of the ecology of Pacific Northwest forests. Although clearly from an environmental perspective (that of the Wilderness Society), the coverage is fairly balanced and scientifically rigorous. Included is an in-depth discussion of the effects of timber operations on the forest ecosystem, threats to forests from external sources (acid rain, ozone depletion, and global warming), the role ancient forests play in regulating the global climate, and policy recommendations for achieving sustainable forestry. Most of the book concerns public lands primarily, but parts apply to private forest lands as well. It

does not address the social and economic issues surrounding timber harvest, and it does not address the broader issues relating to environmental impacts of wood use and alternative products. For anyone wanting to dig really deeply into the underlying ecological concerns relating to forest management,

Ancient Forests provides a great starting point.

Wood Product Demand and the Environmentproceedings of a conference held in Vancouver, British Columbia, November, 1991, 288 pages ($45 from the Forest Products Society, 2801 Marshall Court, Madison, WI 53705; 608/231-1361).

This conference proceedings includes 35 papers (or transcripts of presentations), plus transcripts of round-table and question-and-answer discussions. The forest industry perspective comes through pretty clearly in the proceedings, but the underlying environmental focus of all the presentations makes the publication very worth reading. Much of the coverage relates to environmental advantages of wood over other materials and technical developments that improve wood utilization efficiency; forest management issues are not covered as thoroughly. Among the presentations are the following: “Constraints on timber supply—the political factor,” “Likely impacts of paper recycling on the need for virgin raw material,” “Meeting the need for environmental protection while satisfying the global demand for wood and other raw materials: a North American and global trade perspective,” “Wood versus nonwood materials in U.S. residential construction: some energy-related global implications,” and “Alternatives to forest harvest and wood use: the environmental impacts are substantial.”

This is one of those publications that I’m sure I’ll be pulling off my shelf quite frequently as I evaluate the relative environmental impacts of different building materials.

Published May 1, 1993

(1993, May 1). Two Books to Broaden Your Perspectives on the Timber Debate. Retrieved from

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