Exploring Pacific Northwest with the Society of American Foresters (SAF)

Exploring Pacific Northwest with the Society of American Foresters (SAF)

Written by Vinzenz Held,

I am Vinzenz, Master of Forest Science candidate at the Technische Universität München, (Technical University of Munich) and I will spend one year at F&ES studying forestry. Before starting school, I worked on ecological hunting concepts and integrative conservation concepts in temperate forests with the Bavarian state forest. Afterwards, I was in Uganda, where I worked on a reforestation program with the German-based nonprofit “Fairventures Worldwide”.

A few weeks ago, I was fortunate to attend the 2018 Society of American Foresters (SAF) convention in Portland, Oregon. I was lucky enough to attend many interesting presentations, some of which included the latest research from my peers at F&ES and to connect with forestry professionals from all over the United States. The presentations were all designed around the relationships of policy and politics with scientists and forest managers. This gave me a good overview of the history of forestry in the US and current issues in the field.

Keynote speakers from the industry discussed agroforestry, education and communication, silviculture, urban and community forestry, conservation, and many things more. A wide range of experts in the forestry field offered me insights and allowed me to build a network with decision-makers. One of these decision makers, Terry Baker, who recently stepped up and became the new CEO of SAF, who is also a Yale F&ES alum from the class of 2007, gave an inspiring talk about the future of the Society. Furthermore, he explained the concept of TGIF (“Thank Goodness I am a Forester”) to the audience and how much he enjoyed the weekly events during his time at F&ES. The meeting focused on the history of Yale in forestry and showed me multiple career paths in forest science and management. I also connected with experts in firefighting and urban tree initiatives, as well as leading managers of commercial forest operations.

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Ben Hayes, another F&ES alum, took us on a field trip to his family forest and showed us the ins and outs of ecological forest management in the Western US. The mighty Douglas firs impressed all of us from the East Coast very much. To preserve these magnificent trees, we discussed new revenue flow approaches, such setting up carbon offset markets and funding of ecosystem services.

All actions on this land follow one philosophy – they can be best described by the words of the famous Yale forester Aldo Leopold: “When land does well for its owner, and the owner does well by his land; when both end up better by reason of their partnership, we have conservation. When one or the other grows poorer, we do not.”. In addition, the alums helped us get some hands-on experience with forest carbon inventory and calculations.

Besides the field trips and convention, I also had the opportunity to discover the beauty of Portland and its surroundings, which added up to a great experience in the Pacific Northwest. I am very thankful to have been able to get such a deep exposure to American forestry in my short time in the US and for everyone who made this trip possible.