To the Editor:
As a forester, I have been keenly interested in the unfolding story of the forestland in Maine that is managed for the University endowment (“Yale embroiled in conservation fight,” 9/20).
The School of Forestry and Environmental Studies has managed University-owned forestland in three New England states for nearly 90 years. In the article, Forestry School spokesman David DeFusco points out that school forests are managed as research sites and for educational purposes. In addition, the forests are managed for timber production, the revenues from which support the entire school forest budget and the broader budget of the Forestry School.
The school forests are very similar to the forestlands that currently are managed by University contractors in Maine: people are making management decisions that balance economic objectives with the health of a broad variety of natural resources. Trade-offs and compromises are inherent in these decisions, and there are few fields in which the effects of such decisions are as long-term and difficult to predict. For over 100 years, the Forestry School has contributed significantly to our understanding of the effects of forest management — in Maine and in almost every other corner of the world.
Therefore, I am surprised that professors and students involved in the management of Yale’s forests have not been consulted during any phase of the University’s participation in Maine forestry. It is my opinion that a century of experience should count for something. I speak for more than myself when I say that we would relish the chance to be involved in the University’s forestry endeavors in Maine.
Alex Finkral FOR ’02
September 21, 2001
The writer is a graduate student in School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and manager of the Yale’s forests.