Dr John Innes, Dean of Forestry and FRBC Chair of Forest Management at the University of British Columbia, Canada, salutes the progress of The Queen's Commonwealth Canopy – a project that ties together ordinary people, governments and forests around the globe – and urges all Commonwealth members to join in.
People often ask me what foresters actually do. Do we just cut down trees, and sell them to saw mills while maybe planting a few new ones? Don’t trees pretty much look after themselves?
The answer is a lot more complicated. Trees are all around us – we live with them, we use them, we rely on them, yet paradoxically we continually undervalue them, particularly when short-term financial gain can be achieved. Foresters are there to ensure that forests are managed wisely. If we don’t do this, our environment is threatened and so, therefore, is our very survival. We need trees and forests, but equally trees and forests need us. For their survival, trees need us to treat them with respect and understanding – not simply ‘us’ as foresters, but every one of us.
The desire to do something towards conserving forests is not new. There are national and international projects around the globe that plant trees, conserve ecosystems and provide economic incentives not to cut down forests; but these projects are frequently so small and run by volunteers that they struggle for existence, or so large and run by corporations and governments that the wishes of local people can be overlooked. What has been missing is a project that ties together ordinary people, governments and forests around the globe, so that the value of forests is fully recognised by everyone…
Dr John Innes
Dean of Forestry and FRBC Chair of Forest Management at the University of British Columbia, Canada