Trees are essential to life. Wood is the most sustainable material on Earth. Managing our forests properly means that we can have healthy forests and produce wood.
It can be difficult to understand how cutting down a tree in a forest is sustainable. The most common questions I’m asked when I give public talks are usually about sustainable forest management. What does it mean?
The official answer to this is:
“ … the stewardship and use of forests and forest lands in a way, and at a rate, that maintains their biodiversity, productivity, regeneration capacity, vitality and their potential to fulfil, now and in the future, relevant ecological, economic and social functions, at local, national, and global levels, and that does not cause damage to other ecosystems” Forest Europe
This definition is helpful for its thoroughness, but not a lot of help when trying to explain the concept simply and quickly, especially to kids. And that’s the heart of the problem for forestry, and for foresters. The great diversity of the benefits derived from sustainable forest management, and the diversity and importance of wood products and use, only create complexity in communications. And then there are the timescales of forestry, which typically transcend human generations: how can felling a 100 year old tree be sustainable?
In an attempt to help, in my own small way, I recently came up with a new way to explain sustainable forest management. I created a fun song, complete with actions.
The song is a four line ’round’ – meaning that all lines are sung at the same time by four different groups. It is sung to the traditional tune London’s Burning.
|Plant a tree, plant a tree||sit + hands on head|
|Help it grow, help it grow||sit + raise hands above head|
|Be a forest, be a forest||stand + stretch hands high
|Cut it down, cut it down!||sit + arms folded|
With a large enough audience, that is split into four groups (ideally randomly around the room), it is possible to create a ‘forest of people’ that when singing + doing the actions, appear as a forest being managed sustainably on fast forward! I hope you enjoy my film.