Given that the above generalizations, as I see it, apply to the large natural resource base problems, the New Brunswick forestry problems did also bring to light some additional and specific problems that I found interesting. First, the planting of trees in the 1970's to enhance the softwood regeneration process reminded me of the stocking of hatchery reared trout and salmon to supplement wild populations. Instead of looking at the true reason that such an action might be justified, it is hailed as a "good" management practice because of the immediately visible results. Again, people have short time horizons and want instant gratification. Second, the various tenure agreements with respect to the Crown forest, particularly the 1982 laws, were never given a chance to evolve and therefore could not be evaluated. This idea too is found in the various ownership/property relationships that have come and gone in fisheries. However, the 1982 tenure laws which would have made the license holders responsible for management of the forest, not just utilization and harvest is just the latest evolutionary step in natural resource management. Whether it works on a large scale like ocean fisheries or province forests has not been demonstrated to my satisfaction, however on smaller scales is has been successful. Third, the public perception of large scale issues is something that is linked heavily to the media, not to a valid understanding or an attempt of understanding. True, most people do not have the time to "learn" all that can be learned from the various groups that are "learning" which are often outside the mainstream of the bureaucracy and political circles. The values held by the public are also shaped by the media, especially when the resource problem does not directly affect their lives, therefore, the time horizon for resource use and/or appreciation of the resources is short. For those that are directly affected by the resource, it is the socially accepted arrangement of property rights that bounds them and largely shapes their time horizons and ultimately their decisions. Unfortunately, this relationship of the public values and the publicly supported property rights toward natural resources is not one that seems to be very forward looking and doesn't appear to be changing in a hurry. Finally, the problems remain to be defined by the issue of scale. That is, there are those that are acting on the landscape (or the ocean) at the smaller, faster scales and there are those who are defining policy, creating management plans and so forth at larger slower scales. However, these two parties rarely meet in achieving goals because the incentives, disincentives and conditions that form the boundaries of their decision making framework are vastly different. There must be ways to bring these parties together or at least achieve goals that satisfy both parties by understanding their decision making framework.
A second issue of contention was whether it is desirable to develop forests with balanced age-class structure, and if this would diminish or increase budworm infestation. By 1975, a group of scientists determined that a mixed age class structure would lead to continuous, rather than periodic budworm infestation. This meant that the continuous harvest model favored by the timber industry would be impracticable, and this notion was resisted by the forest industry. A spatial- temporal simulation model, the first to link budworm population to forest dynamics and logging, predicted that no matter what measures are taken in the near term, there would be lumber shortages by 2020. The simulation model was rejected as hocus-pocus by the forest industry, which preferred to work with their simple continuous harvest models. A 1978 forest inventory indicated that stocks were diminishing, and this stimulated re-evaluations, and a desire to refine management practices, but did not lead to the forest industry embracing the scientists model-yet. While a natural fir/spruce forest should regenerate naturally, more efforts were placed on replanting, especially black spruce, which is less affected by budworm, although some concern about reducing biodiversity by planting a monoculture and changing the native forest mix was expressed.
By the 1980's a radical policy change was instituted, whereby a group of lumber companies were given responsibility to manage certain areas of forest. They must devise the best way to harvest sustainably, and maximize the usefulness of the all trees (high and low quality), whether for lumber or paper pulp. Their stewardship will be evaluated after 25 years, and their contracts may be renewed - unless the forest policy changes again!
The management response to budworm outbreaks was to focus on it exclusively and to solve it! Both industry and government joined efforts to control the damage of budworm pestilence through aerial application of pesticides. At the same time, however, elements of the fir/spruce forest were changing. Because the management "policy" was so narrowly defined on budworm outbreak prevention, these changes were not noticed. According to Holling (Ch 1), reducing the variability of the budworm produced changes in the spatial heterogeneity of the fir/spruce ecosystem. Forest architecture became more contiguous; if an outbreak occurred, potential damage would cover larger areas and have greater impact (on the economy, society...) than before management. Other problems that evolved because of myopic management policies included reduced forest regeneration and sawlog quality (Baskerville, Ch 2).
These changes in the forest system could have been prevented if it were not for concurrent changes in management institutions and society. In the case of management, there was little appreciation of the nature of the budworm/forest relationship. Often budworm population dynamics were viewed as independent of vegetative dynamics in the forest (Baskerville, Ch 2). Very few efforts were made to monitor the ecosystem's response to the combined effects of budworm, forest, and industrial dynamics, especially at the temporal and spatial scales of the system involved. Instead, management agencies shifted their focus from such potentially important ecological objectives to the objective of improving operational efficiency of pesticide application and usage (Holling, Ch 1). Changes in society and in public perception of the situation happened as well. Social dependencies developed and pressures were exerted for the sustained flow of wood products that no longer fluctuated as a result of budworm infestation (Holling, Ch 1). From such demands, more investments were made to expand pulpmill facilities and public employment (Baskerville, Ch 2).
According to Holling (Ch 1), the situation that has just been described is the same puzzle that plagues many management institutions worldwide: success in managing a target variable for sustained production of food or fiber leads to an ultimate pathology of less resilient and more vulnerable ecosystems, more rigid and unresponsive management agencies, and more dependent societies.
Where is the forestry problem in New Brunswick currently? According to Baskerville (Ch 2), great progress has been made in bringing New Brunswick forests under management. The problem is more clearly defined and many of it's elements are "technically tractable" with such tools as the geographic information system. However, New Brunswick has not achieved integrated resource management. Baskerville (Ch 2) sees some of the difficulties in achieving adaptive management as the following: 1. The primary difficulty is achieving a level of understanding among the members of society (management, public, and industry) required to make appropriate choices and implement sound solutions at the spatial and temporal scale of the whole forest. According to Baskerville (Ch 2), the people of New Brunswick do not recognize the long time lags in the dynamics of the forest. In many instances, the public wants to be able to reap the biggest economic profits from the forest NOW. 2. Learning has not been uniform among and within all elements of society. Although understanding has increased in general, there are no formal structures that foster learning and support learning as a means of policy production. According to Baskerville (Ch 2), many bureaucracies have difficulty with this aspect of adaptive management because it often requires admitting "I don't know all the answers; therefore, I must learn." 3. Goals and values need to be defined and articulated so that what is deemed socially acceptable and what is biologically possible can be compared and contrasted. 4. The three-way impasse between industry, management, and the public needs to be broken. Issues between the three need to be depolarized, otherwise suspicions will dominate, conflicts will escalate, and cooperation will be non-existent.
Any solutions... Management policies should be designed and implemented so that both natural and human systems can respond "adaptively" to the policy actions. Management policies should NOT be single target, piecemeal ones that focus on the short term and local. Instead, they should be flexible, experimental management tools that focus on uncertainty and learning as well as on sustaining resource products.
The post settlement paradigm of the 1800's was originally to extract the best quality resources from the forest, and later to harvest lower qualities as higher quality stocks were used up. Later the paradigm shifted in the 1900's to increased exploitation, but with the eventual goal of sustaining minimum flows of resources from the forest for industrial development. The discussions never questioned the paradigm which emphasized the use of the forest as a raw material for industry and commerce. Debates instead focused on the adjustments to more efficient ways to achieve this objective.
Paradigms of the forest seemed to go in a spiral motion, but always dwell on economic development with the same issues being discussed over and over again. Issues never seemed to be resolved but instead would come in and out of focus in pulses of information from the press and special interest groups. While there was some discussion on a major change in paradigm the concept of it was never fully explored.
Much of the problem in developing a paradigm for the region related to the context and scales in which people, industry, and ecological phenomena function and act. The ecological functions relate to scale much greater than the New Brunswick forest and over much larger time horizon. Government functions on the scale of the region, but often acts within a much smaller temporal dimension, as a response to constituents and special interest groups. Industry functions on the range of space which includes it resources, and for a indefinite time period. People function at a much smaller scale and time frame, often within their range of activity. People within the region often could not seem to conceive of paradigms at larger scales, and often left their options open by being nebulous.
New Brunswick forest ecology was originally not well understood. Historical records focused mostly on higher quality pine species which were virtually eliminated. Spruce ecology was know to some extent but records were limited.
Government's role has been to administer the forest but not to manage it per se. Government has however reacted to spruce and budworm invasions in an attempt to modify natural cycles so that they would more compatible with the goal of sustainable forestry. It also tried to address the issue of supply. Much of the government intervention was done before the ecological cycles were understood and therefore not always able to predict the effects on ecology and people. It is clear much of the issues of landscape ecology are not being addressed.
While one had a sense of the perpetual failure of management one had little idea what those failures were and what the effects on the ecology of the region were. It was obvious from the discussion that there were severe forest management problems however most were not discussed, except the planting and budworm issues. Even plans to incorporate wildlife in the management were not explained.
The dominant theme throughout the paper was on how the tools of society (including science and government) are not well developed or organized in a way that a society can address complex ecological issues and debates on paradigms which define our relationship with nature. While some tools such as modeling are being developed it will take a significant effort to bring people into a common understanding of issues especially ones that include a large spatial and temporal scale and human dimension.
What I thought was missing from the paper:
1. While the paper gave some history of the forest in relationship to the people and economy he did not discuss other parts of the economy which were important and which could have been at odds or consistent with the forestry paradigms. A large part of the economy and most of the employment had nothing to do with the forestry issue.
2. The paper did not discuss what happened in other provinces which did not try to eradicate the budworm, nor did he discuss the inter political debates which must have gone on from the different provinces.
3. The paper lacked sources from the literature which might be useful to give the reader a more complete picture of the problem. For example, the pesticide debate was brought up several times but the sources cited were limited.
4. There was almost no discussion of other important ecological variables such as fire and gales which were mentioned in the beginning as important historical events within the forest.
5. Once the story got started little or no mention was made of the other forest types including pine and hardwoods both of which played an important role in the early history of exploitation.
6. The paper mentions the forest problems including economics, inadequate industrial capacity, markets, uncertain wood supply, raw material quality, too many over mature stands, insecticides, budworm, stewardship, environmental quality, parks, and wildlife habitat, but does not mention many other important aspects that could be used to construct a completely different paradigm more consistent with the ecology. He also only briefly mentions many issues like sprawl or rural development which seemed to have a major influence on forest management practices.
7. Major issues and spatial and temporal scales of issues and phenomena could have been put in a simple illustration to make it easier to understand. This would have been extremely useful for explaining policy and paradigm development debates and trade-offs.
8. It was not to clear who was subsidizing who and who was paying for what; e.g. who was paying for the spray program, and road development to provide access to the forest.
The complex and unpredictable behavior of the fir/spruce forest problem is evident when one looks at it's multiple causes. The two key environmental causes were forest dynamics and spruce budworm outbreaks. Neither of the two are simple subjects, nor are they immune to human influence. At the time, the cycles and nature of the budworm were not fully understood, and dynamics of the forest were not believed let alone understood. Each concern was dealt with separately as though they were unrelated, and each concern was discussed for simple solutions rather than understanding. As Holling states in chapter one, policies demand understanding of the whole problem based on interdisciplinary and integrated modes of inquiry, and though complete understanding is unlikely to ever occur it was not even a goal in New Brunswick.
The discontinuous temporal and spatial behavior of these system problems with multiple stable states is inherently difficult for people to contend with, let alone to base policy on. In the case of the forest dynamics in New Brunswick, simple, steady-state formulas were the only plausible tools needed for the majority of people. When the complex, non-linear models were introduced they contained too much uncertainty with no clear simple solutions and thus they were seen as useless tools. Only when the situation was bounded and options limited by the Forest Resource Study were any other tools considered, and even then only the underlying concepts behind the tools could seriously be considered by the people.
The forest's dynamic cycles which playout on the order of decades lead to the sudden changes seen in the environment which then become policy issues. In New Brunswick, the sudden changes were initially contributed and dealt with only in relation to the budworm. The condition and distribution of the tree stands managed were not factored into the problem nor the solution. This narrow focus helped to perpetuate the problem, while also creating alternative areas of debate such as the health concerns centered around the continual pesticide spraying. The health debate could then draw attention away from the initial concern because the former was manageable while the latter was still a mystery. The focus on short-term, single issues is continually favored by people over the long-term, complex issues, and this is understandably so. Even when progress is evident with the other characteristics, a continual challenge is to keep the long-term, complex issue the focus of the short-term, single issues which will inevitably arise.
The cross-scale nature of the problem was initially reflected in New Brunswick's concern to be globally competitive, and later evident in the concern generated by new tools such as GIS. As previously discussed, a community such as New Brunswick has a difficult enough time dealing appropriately with current local problems. To introduce long-term, global aspects to the problem is just more information to confuse and distract from the issue of concern. Tools which relay and facilitate the production of this information are slow to be accepted and utilized.
Finally, the evolutionary nature of the ecological and social components are essential to any learning associated with environmental and renewable resource issues. Acceptance of the evolutionary nature of the ecological systems has been struggled with throughout the fir/spruce forest issue and is still debated. This debate is now accompanied by somewhat of a realization that the social component of the problem is also evolving. The challenge now is to deal with these co-evolving components simultaneously, while remaining aware of the relation they have with one another.
The complexity of natural system concerns and public values and beliefs is well illustrated in this discussion of New Brunswick. This illustration was only possible in hindsight, and if we are not to repeat the same mistakes we must begin to not only remember the past but to also develop the foresight to mange and minimize our future mistakes.
By the nineteenth century, the white pine stands were already disappearing, and as early as 1927 harvest licenses were introduced, with the term of those licenses being drastically reduced a few years later. Little was known about the actual impact of the harvest rights on the dynamic of the forest and each generation took as much advantage of the forest as they could without considering the effects on future generations. After World War II problems such as: insects, quality of raw material, unstable wood supply, stewardship, environmental quality, wildlife, etc. had come to the forefront of public attention.
Historically most forest policy has focused on softwoods, as their harvest increases, and as the insect budworm has had a devastating impact on whole stands of trees that were meant for harvest. While the budworm is a driving force in the natural development of fir forests, it is a nuisance of crisis proportions for managers who need to claim a certain (probably increasing) number of trees a year for use. As old stands are defoliated and killed by the outbreak of insects, new stands eventually result. Beginning in the 1950's, pesticides were utilized to decrease the effects of outbreak, but because the pesticides prevented all of the budworms food from being wiped out, this made it possible for the insects to sustain constant outbreak populations, and required never-ending spraying of forest stands. This use of pesticides brought up an entirely new issue of environmental and human hazard, but the real root of the problem was left untouched; in searching for solutions to the insect problem, the budworms were never discussed _in conjunction_ with the forest dynamics.
During the middle of the twentieth century, the extent of forest management was limited to tampering with the number of growing stock of all forest stands and the age of harvesting stands to get a desired number of growing amount of allowable annual harvest. The equations that were used did not take into account the forest age-class structure over time because natural dynamics of the forest are not in agreement with the standard of even-flow harvest that was in fashion, but finally by the mid-1960's the subject of forest dynamics was addressed along with the continued concern for the use of pesticides. More stringent safety controls on spraying of pesticides were enforced, but media exposure still confused the issue and caused several "panics" about the supposedly fatal effects of the pesticides. These two issues were still not dealt with simultaneously, although it was the management of the forest which facilitated the perpetual insect outbreaks.
Holling et al. put a model into place which described the future effects of continuing along the present course of management, but this model demonstrated that there was a natural boom and bust to the system and no policy makers, managers, environmentalists, professionals, or the public did not like to think about an inevitable future decline in harvestable stands. During the 1970's, various surveys, task forces, and inventories were conducted to review the status of forestry; some of these actually served to increase the credibility of forest models. At the same time, tree planting was increasing, because it was seen as a form of management and was associated with growing stocks of trees. The government was concerned with getting the biggest possible return from the publicly owned forest and government and industry had numerous arguments over how to manage the lands.
In the 1980's, a new minister was elected and a new system of land tenure was installed. Industry was now theoretically responsible for management of the Crown forests under new licenses and finally models were utilized which linked forest supply and the budworm outbreaks. Managers used new technology for mapping and resource inventory and they implemented long-term programs. These developments improved the timber situation, but little was done to alleviate other problems associated with the forest. The public wanted more to do with the actual management but were on the whole not willing to wait for the long-term results which careful management would bring.
The jury is still out as to whether an adaptive approach to the management of this system will be carried out on a long enough term scale to do some good. Like the forest itself, the policy regarding the ecosystem is dynamic and should be constantly adapting to changing conditions. The case of the New Brunswick forests adequately demonstrates the components of: scale, economics, communication, natural processes, political framework and interaction between different segments of society that go into resolving resource issues.
The government continued to support the development of the forest based economy after World War II. Although harvest levels were erratic between 1945 and 1960 total overall yields had increased up until about 1975 by which time the economy was based heavily on logging.
The summary on spruce budworm lacked detailed description of its reported co-evolution with spruce, with the exception that it encouraged the natural regeneration of the stand. When an outbreak in the 50's was predicted and initially appeared decisions to stem the outbreak with herbicide began the 'forest protection program'. It was believed that protection from budworm outbreaks through spraying insecticides could be accomplished during their short (4-8 year) duration. Thus, a massive effort was required to determine and tract impacts upon which spraying commences if the survey deems damage leading to tree mortality. Although the insecticide used was effective against most budworms, the few that usually survived treatment were enough to reinfect and reaffect the stand, producing extended outbreaks that appeared to require a 'forever' spray protection program.
In addition, cutting quotas were being manipulated by mill construction and access demands. Insecticide use was being questioned by the public in terms of health risks to wildlife and people, and insecticide costs rose along with oil prices in the 1970's. The final blow to using insecticides came from non-governmental organizations outcry to stop the spraying.
In terms of forest dynamics management was said to either create a 'proper' forest budworms wouldn't like or allow periodic infestations to carve out a more stable forest. Since neither entomologists or forest experts could describe the interaction of these two organisms and previously believed immune (young) trees were being impacted it was decided to continue spraying. Sawlog availability declined and debate began about the continued regeneration and resultant timber supplies. A model was constructed to incorporate forest and budworm dynamics and harvesting in terms of spatial and temporal extent. Perhaps because the model was too complex or because it (and others) had a bad forecast for future available timber policy makers did not want to base their decisions on these models. Meanwhile, land tenure issues came to a head as it became more and more obvious that quick fixes were not possible. The public was not easily swayed to give long leases to private industry and when they were unable to create trees and jobs overnight a forest authority was established. Since 1978 the availability of wood was said to be less than mill capacity however this was abated by decreased mill production, future regeneration wood becoming available and conservative past estimates of yield. Finally budworm impacts and wood supplies were being linked and policy issues were taking a more large scale, long term, interactive roles of forest and wildlife conservation perspective.
The take home message for policy formulation is that it cannot happen effectively faster the time scale of the dynamics of the system being managed and certainly not in the time-frame of current public opinion.
In 1810 the New Brunswick House of Assembly first sought to regulate the Crown Forest in order to stop exploitation of white pines by some 600 sawmills. However, in 1867 New Brunswick entered the Canadian condederation and the management of the Crown Forest became both very publically sensitive and politically difficult. Then in 1889, although the number of sawmills began to decrease, pulp mills also began to use white pines. The white pines were harvested by selective cutting, which removed the best trees first, and the results of this poor management were seen in the middle of the nineteenth century when the number of large white pines decreased to a point where the lumber market struggled. In turn, white spruce began to be harvested, but these trees were smaller and less valuable than white pine, and the lumber economy still struggled. On top of harvesting the trees, other natural disasters occurred that affected timber abundance. Damage by insects, fire and wind storms also affected the availability of trees for harvesting, but forest managers did not treat these perturbations collectively with timber abundance for harvesting.
By the 1950's when the local white pine and hardwoods had been over-harvested and rendered noncompetitive as raw material for world markets, the fir/spruce forest became targeted for industrial development. The problem with the fir/spruce forest is that it is continually attacked by budworm outbreaks (which are moth larvae that feed on the foliage of the trees and kill a major percentage of the trees in the area of an outbreak). Although these budworm outbreaks plague the human population by taking a major toll on the amount of timber that can be harvested, it is an essential part of the forest dynamics and regulates the two major age classes that are seen in the forest. Older, large trees are survivors of older budworm outbreaks and are able to grow to their large size due to the "thinning" effect of the budworm outbreak (the trees have more open space and canopy to grow in). I estimate that it took 70 years for the trees to reach these large sizes. The second age class are younger trees that grow right after a budworm outbreak, and these stands are of smaller, more densely packed trees. These trees are approximately 10 years old.
However, a forest made up with 2 age classes is not optimal for timber harvesting. Ideally, a more even distribution of age classes is wanted so that there can be a continual harvest of trees. But, this is not conducive to controlling budworm outbreaks. Management in the 1950's sprayed the forest to help control the budworm outbreaks. In some areas this was successful, but overall the project was a failure due to the splitting of the forests into sections where some areas were sprayed and other areas were not. The budworm spread from non-sprayed areas to sprayed areas, and the spraying allowed the budworm outbreaks to be prolonged (causining more damage) than if the budworms were allowed to run their natural course (where they would explode in population and then die off when their food resource declined-about 6 years). Public concerns about the affect of spraying on animal and human populations also began to surface. However, the management of the time continued to spray the forest and failed to acknowledge the budworm/forest dynamics interaction.
Along with the problem of budworms, it became evident to the government that the forest was being over-harvested, but thegovernment would not change its management methods (to those based on models) and kept harvesting timber based on formulas that had incorrect assumptions or did not figure in losses of timber due to budworm outbreaks. Worst of all, it became evident that the spraying, which was meant to control budworm outbreaks and improve timber harvests, was negatively affecting future harvesting (by allowing dense populations of trees to survive so the forest produced smaller trees, and spraying caused budworms to attack seedlings). In the 1970's a model became available that incorporated budworm/forest/industry variables into one system. However, due to the complexity of the model, the model was not used in making effective policy, and government decided to revert back to old policy.
However, in the late 1970's it still became obvious that there would be a timber shortage in the future, especially if the industrial economy wanted to expand. In the early 1980's a major overall in the management of the forest began to take place. Although the model which incorporated the budworm/forest/industry variables was not directly used, the government began to recognize the links between these variables. Also, re-organization in the management took place where only a few industries were given harvesting licenses for timber, and they were responsible for maintaining the forest and reported to the government every 5 years. Unfortunately, due to changes in the government by the time the first evaluation took place, the new program of management began to break down. Although at the present time the Canadian goverment is still trying to manage the Crown Forest, the actual management of the forest is still evolving. There is a clearer picture of how the forest should be managed compared to 45 years ago, however, the appropriate policies still need to be made and effectively implemented.
Return to the Concepts of Adaptive Management course, or the Arthur R. Marshall Lab.
Copyright © Last modified: Jan 18 1996