The Forest Service has evolved to a new land ethic: preservation of the function, health, and productivity of ecosystems, including the production of goods and services for people. This evolution is the result of several converging streams including advances in scientific technology, emerging political directions, and realization that problems need to be addressed at the outset. A number of challenges are facing the move to ecosystem management (EM) including a number of statutory changes or clarifications, declining budgets and staff, and the need to work more closely with the other agencies. The Forest Service intends to play a leadership role in EM. The decision space for any management approach is bounded by science, political acceptability, social consequences, and economic feasibility. Although the Service has sought public input in the past under the National Forest Management Act, the effort has not been satisfactory. EM requires more collaboration between other agencies, universities, organizations, and interest groups. We must continue to advance our science. Land managers are being directed to understand the structure, function, and variability of systems to be managed, and their response to use. We have no option but to move forward with natural-resources exploitation. As government is being reinvented, we are reinventing the Forest Service including implementation of ecosystem management. We need to get away from managing individual resources to focusing on whole systems. This will require more budgetary flexibility and effective monitoring to evaluate management. We need to strengthen the Service's research arm and upgrade the educational level of our personnel. We need to process and assimilate new information more efficiently, move it quickly into operations, and we will be hiring people who specialize in those functions. We need to strengthen collaboration with our sister agencies and our many constituencies. We recognize the sensitivity of the property-rights issue and seek no additional authority over private property. Our objective is to provide technical assistance to federal and state land managers and nonindustrial private owners. Our goal is leadership into the 21st century in effective resource management.
Thomas, Jack Ward
"Agencies' roles in ecosystem management: USDA Forest Service directions,"
Natural Resources and Environmental Issues: Vol. 5
, Article 14.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.usu.edu/nrei/vol5/iss1/14