Managing for the all the benefits of a forest
Name: Justin Hall
Hometown: Olympia, Washington
Community forest affiliation: Nisqually Community Forest
1. What first drew you to forestry work?
As an undergraduate I received Bachelor’s degrees in Wildlife Science and Fisheries Biology. I then worked for the University of Washington Charles Lathrop Pack Forest as a forester which led to a Master’s degree in Silviculture and Forest Planning. I’ve always loved being in the woods and working in them just seemed like a natural extension of what I enjoyed. That said, I’ve spent most of the intervening time in office settings running a nonprofit.
2. What is your favorite attribute of the community forest you’re affiliated with?
My grandfather moved to Washington from the east coast during World War II to work in the timber industry and as it turns out he worked on the same forest that we are now trying to buy as the Nisqually Community Forest. I like that I will hopefully be working the same ground that my grandfather did 70 years ago.
3. From your perspective, what is the most important benefit that can be realized by developing community forests / practicing community forestry?
The most important benefit is that we will be more easily able to manage the forest for multiple benefits since we won’t have a pure profit motive. We looking to be long-term owners who can hold these lands in perpetuity. While we definitely want these to continue to be working forests, we will have the opportunity to do some things differently because we don’t need to maximize profits for investors.
4. What is the most challenging aspect of developing a community forest? Most gratifying?
The most challenging aspect is finding the funding to purchase the lands. We are competing against very large, well-capitalized, corporations and investors for what is some of the best timber growing ground in the world. The most gratifying part will be knowing that our management provides benefits directly back to the local community and the fish and wildlife that depend on the forest habitat and streams.
5. What advice would you give to communities interested in developing their own community forest?
Pull in everyone that you can to be a part of it. Make sure that your community forest has community. It won’t always be easy, people will have very different views on what they think the forest should look like and how it should be managed but the whole thing will be stronger the more voices that you have participating.