The Training of a Forester - Gifford Pinchot
The following is an excerpt from a manual on training a forester.
1. The position of the forest in the housekeeping of any nation is unlike that of any other
2. great natural resource, for the forest not only furnishes wood, without which civilization
3. as we know it would be impossible, but serves also to protect or make valuable many of
4. the other things without which we could not get on. Thus the forest cover protects the
5. soil from the effects of wind, and holds it in place. For lack of it hundreds of thousands of
6. square miles have been converted by the winds from moderately fertile, productive land
7. to arid drifting sands. Narrow strips of forest planted as windbreaks make agriculture
8. possible in certain regions by preventing destruction of crops by moisture-stealing
9. dry winds which so afflict the central portions of our country.
10. Without the forests the great bulk of our mining for coal, metals, and the precious minerals
11. would be either impossible or vastly more expensive than it is at present, because the
12. galleries of mines are propped with wood, and so protected against caving in. So far, no
13. satisfactory substitute for the wooden railroad tie has been devised; and our whole system
14. of land transportation is directly dependent for its existence upon the forest, which supplies
15. more than one hundred and twenty million new railroad ties every year in the United States
16. alone. The forest regulates and protects the flow of streams. Its effect is to reduce the height
17. of floods and to moderate extremes of low water. The official measurements of the United
18. States Geological Survey have finally settled this long-disputed question. By protecting
19. mountain slopes against excessive soil wash, it protects also the lowlands upon which this
20. wash would otherwise be deposited and the rivers whose channels it would clog. It is well
21. within the truth to say that the utility of any system of rivers for transportation, for irrigation,
22. for waterpower, and for domestic supply depends in great part upon the protection which
23. forests offer to the headwaters of the streams, and that without such protection none of
24. these uses can be expected long to endure.
25. Of the two basic materials of our civilization, iron and wood, the forest supplies one. The
26. dominant place of the forest in our national economy is well illustrated by the fact that no
27. article whatsoever, whether of use or ornament, whether it be for food, shelter, clothing,
28. convenience, protection, or decoration, can be produced and delivered to the user, as
29. industry is now organized, without the help of the forest in supplying wood. An
30. examination of the history of any article, including the production of the raw material, and
31. its manufacture, transportation, and distribution, will at once make this point clear.
32. The forest is a national necessity. Without the material, the protection, and the assistance
33. it supplies, no nation can long succeed. Many regions of the old world, such as Palestine,
34. Greece, Northern Africa, and Central India, offer in themselves the most impressive object
35. lessons of the effect upon national prosperity and national character of the neglect of the
36. forest and its consequent destruction.
37. ~The Forester’s Point of View~
38. The central idea of the Forester, in handling the forest, is to promote and perpetuate its
39. greatest use to men. His purpose is to make it serve the greatest good of the greatest
40. number for the longest time. Before the members of any other profession dealing with
41. natural resources, the Foresters acquired the long look ahead. This was only natural,
42. because in forestry it is seldom that a man lives to harvest the crop which he helped to sow.
43. The Forester must look forward, because the natural resource with which he deals matures
44. so slowly, and because, if steps are to be taken to insure for succeeding generations a supply
45. of the things the forest yields, they must be taken long in advance. The idea of using the
46. forest first for the greatest good of the present generation, and then for the greatest good
47. of succeeding generations through the long future of the nation and the race—that is the
48. Forester's point of view.
49. The use of foresight to insure the existence of the forest in the future, and, so far as
50. practicable, the continued or increasing abundance of its service to men, naturally suggested
51. the use of foresight in the same way as to other natural resources as well. Thus it was the
52. Forester's point of view, applied not only to the forest but to the lands, the minerals, and
53. the streams, which produced the Conservation policy. The idea of applying foresight and
54. common-sense to the other natural resources as well as to the forest was natural and
55. inevitable. It works out, equally as a matter of course, into the conception of a planned and
56. orderly development of all that the earth contains for the uses of men. This leads in turn to
57. the application of the same principle to other questions and resources. It was foreseen from
58. the beginning by those who were responsible for inaugurating the Conservation movement
59. that its natural development would in time work out into a planned and orderly scheme for
60. national efficiency, based on the elimination of waste, and directed toward the best use of
61. all we have for the greatest good of the greatest number for the longest time. It is easy to
62. see that this principle (the Forester's principle, first brought to public attention by Foresters)
63. is the key to national success.
64. Forestry, then, is seen to be peculiarly essential to the national prosperity, both now and
65. hereafter. National degradation and decay have uniformly followed the excessive destruction
66. of forests by other nations, and will inevitably become our portion if we continue to destroy
67. our forests three times faster than they are produced, as we are doing now. The principles of
68. forestry, therefore, must occupy a commanding place in determining the future prosperity or
69. failure of our nation, and this commanding position in the field of ideas is naturally and
70. properly reflected in the dignity and high standing which the profession of forestry, young as
71. it is, has already acquired in the United States. This position it must be the first care of every
72. member of the profession to maintain and increase.
73. In the long run, no profession rises higher than the degree of public consideration which
74. marks its members. The profession of forestry is in many ways a peculiarly responsible
75. profession, but in nothing more so than in its vital connection with the whole future welfare
76. of our country and in the obligation which lies upon its members to see that its reputation
77. and standing, which are the measures of its capacity for usefulness, are kept strong and clear.
Pinchot, Gifford. The Training of a Forester. Philadelphia;London: J.B. Lippincott, 1914. WorldCat [OCLC]. Web. 25 Mar. 2016.
The word "degradation" in line 65 most nearly means