Interface Forestry logo, egg-shaped logo bordered by recycling arrows with ponderosa pine tree and roots

Interface Forestry

forest stewardship in the wildland-urban interface

Environmental Ethics and Work Principles

Environmental Ethics

Interface Forestry tries to meet the demands of Aldo Leopold's ethical construct, which holds that a "A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise" (from "The Land Ethic," in A Sand County Almanac).

Thus, I follow some basic guidelines:

  • Stewardship treatments benefit stand health.
  • Treatments won't impair or disturb the habitat requirements of locally or listed endangered or threatened species.
  • Roadbuilding will be a last resort. When we do build roads, they will meet correct specifications and follow Best Management Practices; we will not contribute to soil erosion and stream silting. We'll build permanent roads correctly and rehabilitate temporary roads thoroughly.
  • Treatments will meet Streamside Management Zone standards and adhere to Best Management Practices for protection of riparian areas.
  • Timber scheduling will be sustainable and management methods will not include "selective cut" (high-grading) and large-area clear cutting. Treatments will not remove large trees unless they are otherwise threatened, compromising clients' resource value opportunities (for instance, in the case of a tree-killing fire or severe insect infestation).

    However, forest treatments will often involve an initial thinning of large numbers of small-diameter trees using the method of selection cutting (or, thinning-from below, as distinct from selective cutting. Further, lodgepole treatments will often involve variable-density treatments, which involve clear-cutting small, non-geometric patches (one-quarter-acre to three acres) interspersed with similarly shaped patches with minimal cutting.
  • Stewardship treatments attempt to simulate natural processes in creating (or moving towards) naturalistic forest structures. For example, in the absence of human settlement or logging, a dry Douglas-fir/ponderosa pine landscape in Montana would consist of a mosaic of stand structures, dominated by stands of large, old mature trees, primarily ponderosa pine. Frequently (roughly every 15-25 years) and typically, a surface fire would burn across any given stand, destroying any young trees that had not yet grown enough bark (the tree's natural protection against fire), thus favoring the dominant, older trees. An Interface Forestry prescription would call for some combination of "thinning-from-below" and well-controlled broadcast burning (given the appropriate fire conditions and circumstances).

    However, an important proviso to this principle applies to private, non-industrial forest owners: if insect infestations or epidemics (for example, Douglas-fir pine beetle, Dendroctonus pseudotsugae) are killing trees with timber value, we reserve the option of logging those trees at the owner's request, provided that this logging does not contribute to the problem.

Business Principles

  • Interface Forestry works with clients to gain a clear and written understanding of their stewardship objectives and manages for those objectives.
  • Reports, recommendations, and communications are written in clear, straightforward language.
  • Reports, recommendations, and communications will reflect consideration of all resource values in an attempt to maximize value for clients within identified ethical boundaries.
  • If Interface Forestry finds ethical issues with a client's objectives, an attempt at reconciliation will be made. If these issues cannot be reconciled, our decision will be stated in written notification to the client.
  • Likewise, if Interface Forestry finds ethical issues with an operator's work, an attempt at reconciliation will be made. If these issues cannot be reconciled, our decision will be stated in written notification to the client and operator.
  • Invoices are clearly explained and billable time is clearly documented to the quarter-hour.

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