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President Franklin Delano Roosevelt commented, "Forests are the lungs of our land." Seventy-five years ago FDR recognized the importance of forests in keeping our environment healthy. How much more important now to keep our national forests intact and thriving with earth’s population reaching 7 billion.

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Renowned Maine poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow implies resilience with his words, “Under a spreading chestnut tree.”  Folklore tells of a squirrel byway from Georgia to Maine, made from the spreading limbs of the American chestnut. Profusions of white flowers, blanketing the eastern mountains when the tree was in bloom, looked like snow in summer. We still sing songs of roasting chestnuts. These traits of American chestnuts have slipped into legend as the tree itself began to disappear.

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Jean Giono’s 1953 novel The Man Who Planted Trees continues to inspire people, communities and villages worldwide to reforest degraded lands. Reforestation projects in Provence and in Canada refer to this book – an appeal to save our ecological heritage. We can leave no better legacy for future generations than a thriving natural forest and natural ecosystems. A forest renews itself constantly and increases in value over time. An individual, a family or a community can plant trees, reaping benefits for hundreds of years.

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Natural forestTwo recent areas of research may have turned our knowledge of the forest upside down. They are pedogenesis (soil formation) applied to agriculture – i.e., the idea that much of our quality soil fertility derives from the deciduous forest; and the biotic pump theory – i.e., the idea that natural forests may be indispensable for rainfall, and, thus, for agriculture.

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Beyond the Beauty StripThis year, 2012, is the 20th anniversary of the publication of Beyond the Beauty Strip: Saving What’s Left of Our Forests (BTBS). In it I pointed out such trends as the sale of big land parcels, heavy cutting and short rotations on industry-owned lands, and increasing mechanization. I suggested that unless we change our direction, we’ll wind up where we are headed. Since I wrote Beyond the Beauty Strip, 10 million acres, the equivalent of half the state, have been cut. Have the trends I identified changed or continued?

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Toki Oshima drawingWeeding a garden seems intuitive. Unwanted weeds impinge on the ability of vegetable crops to absorb water and nutrients from the soil and energy from the sun, so we weed. Likewise, after carrots sprout, we thin them; otherwise the crowded roots will twist around one another in odd and comical shapes.

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Bambi Jones & Tracy MoskovitzThe miles of woods that encircle Bambi Jones and Tracy Moskovitz's farm, located in a small valley in Whitefield, Maine, reinforce their home's tranquility and remote feel. But the forest is far from an impassable buffer shielding them from the outside world. Instead, it's more like an extension of their farm.

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Marnie BriggsAt Hidden Valley Nature Center's fourth timber framing class, held recently, six enthusiastic students learned the basics of post and beam construction under the guidance of instructor Bob Lear.

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A thousand-year forest management plan. Am I joking? After all, the United States is only a little over two centuries old. We live in a world of rapidly changing technologies where, in just a decade or so, people have started using personal computers and cell phones on a wide scale. It is difficult to imagine what life will be like 10 years from now, let alone 100 or 1,000.

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John HoweJohn Howe’s solar-powered firewood operation is unique in using the sun directly for the energy required to convert trees into firewood. As far as he knows, it’s one-of-a-kind.

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These principles and goals are derived from Lansky’s book, Low-Impact Forestry; Forestry as if the Future Mattered.

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Good sawing techniqueThis is the story of how 25 women showed up at the barn on Stearns Hill Farm in West Paris on a chilly Saturday morning in March last year to attend a workshop on chainsaw safety. It’s the story of leadership, of an educational model that embraces women in non-traditional fields, of partnerships, passion and professionalism.

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Jerry SassWatching landowner and logger Jerry Sass step lightly through the hush of a pine stand, you wouldn’t think his 75-acre woodlot in the central Maine town of North Anson represents a philosophical battleground in the state’s forestry wars.

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Members of MOFGA are familiar with the concept of certification. It involves the use of third-party audits to verify a given claim such as: Has this food been organically grown? Certification, however, is being used to verify other claims such as: Does this product have x% recycled content? Is this product “biodegradable” as advertised? Is this forest “well managed,” “sustainable,” or “green”?

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