By Joan Maloof, Ph.D.
To those considering Senate Bill 420, which designates that at least 10% of each state forest is designated as an old forest area:
Please know that thousands of supporters of the Old-Growth Forest Network (OGFN) strongly support the passage of this bill. OGFN is the national forest organization working specifically to preserve ancient forests for the enjoyment of present and future generations. In counties capable of supporting forest growth, we identify at least one forest that will be forever protected from logging and open to the public. Then we help families connect with these forests. The result will be a national network of treasured forests where all generations can experience native biodiversity and the beauty of nature. We are called to do this work because so few old forests remain. Less than 1%! Most Indiana counties have no old forests left at all.
Yet old forests are so important because:
-The older a forest is, the better it cleans the air of pollutants.
-The older a forest is, the more storm water it can capture and purify.
-The older a forest is, the more different species will be found there, from birds to snails to ferns.
-The older a forest is, the more attractive it is for ecotourism.
-We need to save examples of older forests to understand and appreciate our native ecosystem. We cannot depend on private forest owners to save these examples. Preserving a small percentage of our state lands is the perfect solution.
For the small amount of income that you will forgo from not logging that 10% you will more than recover in economic development from tourism, and possibly from the emerging carbon market.
The older a forest gets, the healthier it becomes. This is the scientifically documented lesson from my recent book: Nature’s Temples: the Complex World of Old-Growth Forests. I urge you to read it if you wish to learn more about this topic.
Thank you for making the right choice for our forests and for the future generations.
Dr. Joan Maloof submitted the preceding testimony to the Indiana Senate Natural Resources Committee in support of Senate Bill 420.
Dr. Joan Maloof is a scientist, a writer, and the Founder and Director of the Old-Growth Forest Network, a nonprofit organization creating a network of forests across the US that will remain forever unlogged and open to the public. Dr. Maloof studied Plant Science at the University of Delaware (BS), Environmental Science at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (MS), and Ecology at the University of Maryland College Park (Ph.D.). She has published numerous research articles in journals such as Ecology, the American Journal of Botany, Plant Species Biology, the International Journal of Environmental Studies, and Environmental Philosophy. Dr. Maloof is a Professor Emeritus at Salisbury University in Maryland. Her book, Teaching the Trees: Lessons from the Forest, won an Honorable Mention from the Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment.