Our Perspective on Managing Forests

The forests of the Appalachian Mountains have a history of poor management and harvest techniques, often the result of near-sighted perspectives and the constant pressure for a quick buck.  This has resulted in a general downgrade in the quality of the forest, as well as much environmental damage.  In most cases, the landowner is not given a priority in the management and harvest, instead they are often viewed simply as someone to pay and get out of the way in the quest for more timber.  Our goal is to reverse this trend by promoting management that includes the owner, and recognizes the many values of a forest, including intangible aspects and ecological services, and because of that keeps the forest intact while creating a continuous harvest from that forest.  It is our belief that in order for forestry practices to be sustainable (able to create a continuous harvest) they have to involve two things.  First, they have to involve a forest.  A stand that has had 80% of it’s trees removed cannot be described as forest. And second, the practices have to be restorative, or improving, because if a forest is not improving, it is declining.  And a decline can never be sustainable.  So our approach is to take the worst trees first and leave only the highest quality specimens to grow and reproduce.  This leaves the forest better than we found it and can truly be called sustainable forestry.
A stand that has had 80% of it's trees removed cannot be described as a forest.

Of course, the forests don’t need us to survive, or even to thrive.  But, we need the forest, so we have to be able to produce human benefits from our forests while allowing them to continue in all of the processes that naturally occur.  Can human beings be benevolent, beneficial predators?  We believe the answer is yes.  And the more science discovers about forests, the more we realize the enormous value of services that a forest provides, even besides conventional products such as wood.  So we are promoting an awareness of the forest as an integral part of life on earth in the context of management decisions.  Ultimately, any decision made without these considerations will be counter-productive.

In addition to a holistic perspective, we also need to acquire a long-term perspective regarding the way we manage our forests.  Wendell Berry, in his essay “Conserving Forest Communities”, says this: “The ideal of the industrial economy is to shorten as much as possible the interval separating investment and payoff; it wants to make things fast, especially money.  But even the slightest acquaintance with the vital statistics of trees places us in another kind of world.  A forest makes things slowly; a good forest economy would therefore be a patient economy.  It would be an unselfish one, for good foresters must always look towards harvests that they will not live to reap.” 
Instead, we are showing that they have chosen to be in a different business than what we are in.

Often, sawmills base timber buying decisions on their need to stay at maximum productivity, commonly factoring out the long term effects of their actions in the woods.  This is not to discount what many forest products businesses do.  Instead, we are showing that they have chosen to be in a different business than what we are in.  We are primarily here to work for the landowner, they are primarily there to harvest timber and produce lumber.  While we do harvest timber and produce lumber, that is only our secondary objective.  We do it within the context of fulfilling landowner’s objectives, not as an end in itself.  With our primary objective so defined, we are uniquely positioned to offer landowners superior services for many management objectives.

Imagine having a forest stand that has a high aesthetic value, attracts wildlife, and performs all of the functions of a forest, both those we know about and those we have yet to discover, all while routine low impact harvests are occurring and creating income.  This is the objective we are promoting, and we realize that individual landowners may also have goals specific to their own tract of woods that we can help address through our range of services.  See the
Services page for a complete listing of what we offer.


Healing Harvest Forest Foundation

The Healing Harvest Forest Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that exists to “Address human needs for forest products while creating a nurturing co-existence between the forest and the human community”.  They do this by providing practitioner support, educational services to the general public, developing sustainable cultural traditions, and exploring methods and techniques that relate to low impact harvesting of forest products.  Sinking Creek Horse Logging is a long-time supporter of this effort.  Check out the HHFF web site for information on low-impact harvesting, sustainable forestry and more on this cutting edge organization.