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The concept of multiple use of forest and associated lands - Its values and limitations

Chief, Forest Service, United States Department of Agriculture

Keynote address delivered at the Fifth World Forestry Congress.

IT is a great honor to address this first general session of the Fifth World Forestry Congress. My subject is the same as the theme of the Congress the multiple use of forest lands. This theme is an appropriate sequel to the Fourth World Forestry Congress at Debra Dun in 1954. There the theme was the role of forested areas in the land economy and economic development of a country.

In reporting on the Fourth World Forestry Congress, FAO said: " There are few countries in which production in the forest is limited to timber alone. It is in fact by no means certain that specialized single-purpose land use, particularly on a permanent basis, is ideal. In some social and economic environments, such specialization would certainly not help toward reaching the desired goal of deriving the maximum yield from the land for the benefit of the community as a whole. This the Congress implicitly recognized by accepting the principle of 'multiple use ' of the forest."

Multiple use is a familiar term to foresters of the United States. Its meaning was symbolized on this stage in the opening pageant yesterday. Pictured were the five major uses of forest land - for wood production, use as watersheds, grazing by domestic livestock, the forest as habitat for wild game and fish, and use of the forest for outdoor recreation.

Although " multiple use " may not be a customary term everywhere, the practice of multiple use has been long established in some intensively managed forests of other countries. Later in this Congress you will hear papers reviewing multiple use here and in other countries and in various kinds of ownerships. Some of the Congress tours will enable you to observe the practice of multiple use on forest lands in the United States.

As FAO noted, management of land to serve as many uses as possible is everywhere becoming more essential. When there is abundance of natural resources and few people, there is little need for multiple purpose land use. But when increasingly large numbers of people must rely on an unchanging or diminishing resource base, they must make the most effective use of the resources they have. Multiple use of renewable land resources thus is a necessity born of scarcity of resources and abundance of people who need these resources.

Competition for the use of land is growing throughout the world. This competition will not decrease but will increase as world population increases. World population is now about 3,000 million persons. It has increased as much in the last two decades as was the total growth of population up to the year 1750. In 1800, my own country had 5 million people. One hundred years later we had 76 million. In the next 50 years, our population doubled. The census now being made in the United States indicates an increase in our population from 5 million to 180 million people in 160 years. And United States population is expected almost to double again by the end of this century.

It will not surprise you who come from older countries to hear that in the United States of America we are now feeling the impact of a dynamic population growth on a static land base. Older countries already have had this experience. A few countries represented here today still have abundant natural resources, more than adequate for their present populations. Inevitably, however, as their populations increase, their need for resources will increase, and competition for the use of land in those countries will become more intense.

As the people of the world become city dwellers, they tend to lose sight of their dependence on natural resources. Most of these are products of the land. My forefathers and yours lived close to the land. They knew their dependence on the land for food, for clothing, for shelter, and for fuel to warm the shelter.

To these basic necessities of life we must add today our dependence on natural resources for all the raw materials of industry. The history of mankind is the history of man's competition for land, of man's struggle to obtain adequate natural resources - and of man's overutilization of resources.

I realize that these are facts well known to this audience. Foresters are trained to take a long look ahead. We also are required to live close to the land. Thus we understand the dependence of people on natural resources produced by the land. We are aware, too, that our stewardship of a large part of the earth's surface imposes upon us great responsibility to obtain full productivity of these lands for the benefit of our fellow men, whom we serve. This is why we, the foresters of many nations, propose to dedicate our discussions at this Congress to sharing our knowledge and experience so that we may improve policies and practices relating to wise use of forest lands.

The wise use of forest lands, however, cannot be considered in a vacuum. It must be considered in relation ship to the fullest possible yield of all the products and services that forest land provides for people.

In past years many of us have thought that we had enough land in forest in the United States of America to meet all foreseeable needs for wood and other products and services of forest lands. Today we are not so sure. We think our earlier estimates were too conservative. We are now genuinely concerned. Much forest land is being taken for other uses. Competition for land is becoming intense in the United States.

For example, wherever you may travel in this country you will see great expansion of urban areas. This is taking land which heretofore was included in our estimates of available forest area.

Superhighways, new airports, transmission lines for electrical power, oil, and natural gas, and construction of dams and reservoirs are taking many millions of acres of forest land. Forest land will continue to be taken for national defense purposes.

Large pressures are developing to set aside additional forest lands exclusively for recreational use. Conversion of land from forest to food production, inevitable in the next few decades, will include substantial portions of our most productive forest land.

The diversion of forest lands to other purposes could, in another 40 years, total about one fourth of the present United States commercial forest land area, equivalent to one third of our timber-growing capacity.

I do not condemn single use, primary use, one-purpose use, or exclusive use of land for one major purpose by whatever name may be applied. Some of these individual uses are as essential for the benefit of people as is the use of forest land for multiple purposes. For some purposes, superhighways, for example, the land obviously must be devoted exclusively to that use. There is nothing we can do to make such land serve more than that one purpose.

The consequences, however, of large-scale diversion of forest land to single-use purposes are now so serious in the United States as to justify careful consideration. Every acre of forest land diverted to nonforest use adds to the lands remaining in forest an additional burden of productivity. By the end of this century, a short 40 years away, need for wood in the United States of America will he double our requirements today. We shall be hard pressed to meet future wood requirements even if no more of our present forest land is diverted to other uses.

In addition to meeting greatly expanded requirements for wood production, forest land management in the United States faces greatly increased demands for the other products and services which forests provide. For example, exclusive of Alaska, more than one half of all the water of the western United States originates on the national forests, although these publicly-owned forests comprise only one fifth of the total area in this part of our country. Maintenance of a forest cover on this land protects water quality. Protection alone, however, will not produce the large increases in quantity of water needed by greatly increased numbers of people, by agriculture, and by industry. These requirements have doubled in the last 20 years and are expected to double again in another 18 years. To increase water yield, manipulation of the forest cover is essential. If your tours take you to some of our experimental forests, you will see how the methods used in timber harvesting can serve also to increase water yield.

Many coniferous United States forests and intermingled grasslands are used for grazing of domestic livestock. In this country, as in yours, forests also provide the habitat for many kinds of wild game. These uses are increasing.

Recreational use of national forests has tripled in the past 12 years.

Use of forest land for these several purposes is nothing new. In every country and for centuries forest land has been so used.

What is now is the rapidly growing awareness of the need to apply multiple-use management more widely and more intensively. This comes not only from the obvious need to make forest lands more fully useful to the people but also to lessen the pressures to divert forest lands from a combination of uses to some one exclusive use. In most instances, forest land is not fully serving the people if it is used exclusively for a purpose which could also be achieved in combination with several other uses.

Multiple use of forest lands in the United States did not spring into full flower overnight. While the term has become commonplace only in the last two decades, the practice of multiple use in the United States goes back to the origin of the national forests, more than half a century ago. National forest policies from the very first have emphasized resource use. The first Forest Service manual, significantly termed the " use book," recognized a multiplicity of uses. Even before this, the Forest Service had been instructed by the Secretary of Agriculture that national forest land was to be devoted to its most productive use for the permanent good of the whole people, that all of the resources were for use, and that decisions would always be made, from the standpoint of the greatest good of the greatest number in the long run. These instructions have constituted Forest Service doctrine from the beginning. They are the genesis of multiple use.

Full recognition of the multiple-use principle of land management was given by the Congress of the United States about two months ago. The Act of 12 June 1960 directs that, the renewable resources of the federally owned national forests, some 181 million acres, shall be managed for sustained yield and multiple use. General legislative authority to manage these public properties for use of their watershed, timber, forage, outdoor recreation and wildlife and fish resources was provided many years ago. The significance of the recent legislative enactment is, first, legislative recognition of multiple-use and sustained-yield principles of management-, second, a clear-cut directive to apply these principles on the national forests; and third, naming the basic renewable resources for which the national forests are established and administered and assuring them equal priority under law.

Although this law applies to only one class of publicly owned lands, the principles involved have wider application. On the federally owned national forests the objective is to meet the needs of all the people. On state lands, the objective would be to best meet the needs of the citizens of that state. On privately owned lands the objective would be to best meet the needs of the owner. He would express those needs in whatever terms he might choose. These private owner criteria usually tend to be economic ones.

The Act spells out definitions of multiple use and sustained yield as these principles are to be applied to the national forests. Since the general objective is to manage these lands so that they best meet the needs of the American people, the Act and the accompanying legislative reports require that the five basic renewable resources shall be utilized in the combination that will best serve the people. Emphasis is on utilization, not preservation.

The legislative definition requires that management decisions be based on the relative values of the various resources and not necessarily on economic factors only. Intangible values which are difficult to express accurately in monetary terms also are to be considered. The definition does not require maximum production for all resources or for any one resource.

The legislative history of this Act directs that in making application of the principle of multiple use to a specific area equal consideration is to be given all of the various renewable resource uses, but this does not mean using every acre for all of the various uses. Some areas will be managed for less than all uses, but multiple-use management requires that there be more than two uses.

An essential of multiple use is positive, affirmative management of the several uses involved. Haphazard occurrence of these uses on some particular tract of land does not constitute multiple-use management. Multiple use is not a passive practice. On the contrary, it is the deliberate and carefully planned integration of various uses so that these will interfere with each other as little as possible and will supplement each other as much as possible. Multiple use is by no means an assemblage of single uses. It requires conscious, co-ordinated management of the various renewable resources, each with the other, without impairment of the productivity of the land.

Multiple use must be over a period long enough to experience the cycle of the seasons, that is, a year or more. It does not require that all uses involved be practiced simultaneously at the same instant.

Size of area is a key factor in multiple-use management. Application must be to areas large enough to give sufficient latitude for periodic adjustments in use to conform to changing needs and conditions. On the national forests, we normally think in terms of our smallest administrative units, which at, present average about 200,000 acres. On large private holdings similar acreages might be applicable, but for small private ownerships the unit areas would, of course, be much smaller. They might be as small as 40 acres.

Multiple-use management of the renewable surface resources obviously requires control of all uses on the same land by one authority. Such management is not possible if several coordinate authorities are each trying to direct different uses on the same land. Central decision making is a prerequisite.

In brief, multiple-use management as we practice it on the national forests requires us to consider all of the five basic renewable resources, although on any specific area we may not have all of them in operation at any one time. It obliges us to co-ordinate these various uses even though doing this results in less than fullest possible productivity of some uses. The requirement for sustained yield applies to all renewable resources and is aimed both at getting a high level of productivity and at preventing over-use of any resource or impairment of productivity of the land.

Multiple use is not a panacea. It has limitations, but it also has overriding advantages. I am convinced of the distinct advantages of applying multiple-use management to the great bulk of our forest land.

First of all, multiple use helps to overcome problems of scarcity. It tends to reduce or resolve conflicts of interest and competition for resources. It promotes balance in resource use. It impedes the ascendancy of single-interest pressures. Properly applied, multiple use involves consideration of both esthetic and economic criteria in arriving at management decisions. It offers balance between materialistic and nonmaterialistic values.

Multiple use properly understood and properly applied is now, and will continue to be, the best management for most of the publicly owned forest lands of the United States. It will gradually become the best management for many of the large private holdings. It will always have less applicability to smaller private properties, but many of these owners will in time find it to their own beat interest to practice some degree of multiple use.

Finally, the overwhelming advantage of multiple use is that through it foresters can make forest lands contribute their utmost to society. The basic purpose of forest conservation is a social one to satisfy the intangible as well as the materialistic needs of people. In this way, I believe foresters can make a major contribution to human betterment and perhaps even to world peace.

And now a closing word to you as eminent leaders in a respected profession. Multiple-use forest management is a challenge to foresters to broaden their vision. We must be forest land managers instead of primarily timber growers. The thinking of foresters is believed to be preoccupied with timber and dominated by silviculture. To some extent this criticism is justified. But multiple use, when properly applied, eliminates this bias. The future success of foresters and the contribution of the forestry profession to the welfare of our countries may depend on our response to the need for a balanced use of forest land resources. May we now and always perform in the best interests of the countries we serve.

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