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CAFES

Sustainable Forestry

The approximately 1,400 acres of timberland comprising the forests at Swanton Pacific Ranch are a working model of sustainable forestry. The Swanton forests support a number of management practices and projects that aim to balance the selective harvest of timber with overall ecosystem health. Swanton's commitment to best management practices has led it to be the first school forest in California to be certified as 'well-managed' according to the high standards set forth by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). The FSC (the familiar label on many paper products) is a global partnership of stakeholders representing environmental, social, and economic interests who have worked together to create a rigorous set of guidelines for the implementation of responsible forest management. Scientific Certification Systems (SCS) receives its accreditation from the FSC and certifies the forests at Swanton Pacific Ranch on an annual basis.

The Swanton Pacific Ranch upholds its certification through three primary means: ongoing management activities that are designed to maintain the ecological functions of the forest, state-of-the-art monitoring of key parameters that help assess the impacts of timber harvesting, and revegetation in stream areas to reduce erosion and augment native fauna. Ongoing research projects utilize state-of-the-art techniques to assess methods of disease control and reforestation, and to track the interactions between forest populations and features of the watershed.

Cal Poly's Natural Resources Management and Environmental Sciences Department offers a unique 5-week intensive summer course in Sustainable Forestry and Environmental Practices at Swanton, where students gain a thorough understanding of the issues involved in developing a timber harvest plan in compliance with current regulations from an array of scientific and government experts. Students are also encouraged to work as interns to implement any of a number of forest management or monitoring practices at Swanton Ranch.

Global perspective: While the products of the world's forests supply us with the basic materials of our daily lives – food, fuel, paper and wood – living forests provide ecological functions that are critical for the overall health of Earth's inhabitants. Forests produce oxygen and sequester carbon, clean and regulate water flow, control erosion, and provide wildlife habitat for a majority of land species. Striking a balance between the harvest of forest materials and the preservation of these essential forest functions requires informed, careful and multifaceted management strategies. Certification of sustainably managed forests that achieve this balance has emerged as a viable business decision, due to growing consumer concerns about deforestation and increasing government environmental protection regulations, as well as the recognition of the long-term benefits of maintaining the forest as a renewable resource.

Links:

Cal Poly:
Forestry and Natural Resources Degree Program
Forestry Operations, Swanton Pacific Ranch
Education & Internships, Swanton Pacific Ranch

Forest Management:
California Department of Forestry & Fire Protection
Food & Agriculture Organization of the U.N.

Certification Programs & Certifiers:
Forest Stewardship Council
Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification Schemes
Scientific Certification Systems
Rainforest Alliance
Sustainable Forestry Initiative
American Tree Farm System

Careers:
Fire Science Online's Career, Internship & Scholarship Guide


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