Thanks to researchers such as Dr. Suzanne Simard and Dr. Steve Sillett, we are beginning to perceive a whole new world, allowing us a glimpse into the depth and complexities of these ancient communities we call forests.
In high school, I was involved in a summer conservation program of work and learning. We touched on a wide range of topics from soil science to fisheries biology. We were taught how to measure a woodlot in terms of board feet, in order to estimate the value. Historically forests have been managed as wood to be harvested. But a forest is a whole lot more than just wood. Thankfully we are gradually learning to see the forest, not just the trees.
Like the internet, a forest is a vast complex community of interacting, interdependent parts. As we’ve learned of the resilience of ecosystems, we have a challenge. Can we use this new knowledge to restore ecological integrity, so crucial to a sustainable future?
Dale Goodner was a Naturalist at the Green Bay Wildlife Sanctuary before moving to Peoria, IL, where he worked for Peoria Park District. He served as Chief Naturalist at Forest Park Nature Center, then became Supervisor of Environmental and Interpretive Services. He and his wife, Mary (both alumni of UWGB), returned home to northeast Wisconsin upon retirement and now live in Algoma.