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I must admit a part of me was skeptical about writing a story on timber harvesting. After all, trees are vital to our life here on Earth so why should we be cutting them down. Through photosynthesis trees filter carbon dioxide and other pollutants which increases oxygen for us to breathe. When managed properly, trees also provide clean water and a healthy wildlife habitat.

Prior to my trip to Reading, my impression of cutting trees was definitely not a positive one. My father-in-law, who owns property in Pennsylvania, sold rights to a disreputable harvester who scarred the land with his negligent actions. Trucks drove across the stream meandering through the front of the property leaving massive ruts in the streambank that also extended across the meadow and into the forest. I remember following this path littered with debris and junk food trash about a hundred yards into the forest wondering if this is what timber harvesting was all about. I was devastated at the site of the massive cut that occurred on this beautiful land. At that point, I knew there was no way that I would ever support such endeavors.

However leery I was though, I decided getting educated on the issue of managing our forests was the only way to look at timber harvesting objectively. After all, as an American I know we are the biggest consumers in the world and we also generate the most waste. I began to feel hypocritical about the notion of protecting our forests from any harvesting upon learning that we get over 5,000 products products from trees!

From lumber and paper to cellulous sponges and medicinal uses we've created the demand and we are the ones putting pressure on our forests. Taking steps towards minimizing our impact is beneficial but unless everyone is willing to make drastic changes today, we need to stop asking what are we going to take today and instead ask, what are we going to leave for tomorrow.

I traveled to Reading, PA to meet up with Ken Manno from the Sustainable Forestry Initiative of PA and Dave Henry from the Pennsylvania Game Commission. They agreed to take me to a gamelands site that was harvested about three years ago and talk to me about sustainable forest management. I discovered that there is a diverse coalition of people taking progressive measures to learn more about protecting trees for future generations. The following pages include the objectives of sustainable forestry, comparison information on sustainable and non-sustainable harvesting as well as interviews with Ken and Dave.

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