Healthy Forests are Essential.
From the Interim President, Allan Thompson During an organization's transitions it is customary to introduce new leadership. Statements of optimism that provide direction for where the organization is headed. A bit of background and a quick list of hobbies that might assuage any concerns that the proverbial boat will not be rocked during a leadership change. I can't describe what I'm feeling right now as I write this, there is so much going on. As a woodlot owner, consulting wildlife biologist and forester, and a long-time member of VWA I am humbled and honored to be serving Vermont Woodlands Association as the Interim President. But suffice it to say the boat is rocked. VWA lost a great leader in March. Put was, and will remain, an Icon of forest advocacy having helped shape VWA into the relevant, financially strong, and respected organization it is today as an unwavering Voice for Healthy Forests. And now we have COVID-19. Infrastructure around the world is in turmoil and it is hard to see the urgency of poetic, optimistic introductions. You can expect to learn more about myself and new leadership in the future and there will be a lot of time for some shake and howdy, later on. But now, I'm more inclined to hit the ground running working to insure that VWA, like all of us, will evolve, adapt and emerge on the other side of this as strong as we can be. On Wednesday, March 24th Governor Scott issued a Stay at home Executive Order for those of us not involved in businesses deemed critical. Further guidance clarifies that those in the forest products industry and those providing support are considered critical and will play a critical role and can continue operations. Among the list of essential businesses and critical infrastructure includes utilities, fuel suppliers, and manufacturing critical to the COVID response all of which, to some degree require forest products that will come from Vermont woodlands. These exemptions don't apply to all of us in the industry and market forces will continue to create challenges. So please be safe and familiar with the guidance and the Order . As Vermont's forests provide an innumerable amount of wood resources for a global market and without these forest products, our way of life would cripple. Let that sink in. I spend more time thinking about forests and forest management from a perspective of ecosystem services, forest functions, wildlife habitat and water quality, working to insure the health of our forest ecosystems than I do about economic vitality. My focus becomes blurred when I think about the diverse markets and array of wood products and the complicated ways our lives weave together and truly depends on forest products. This puts the role of healthy woodlands and the responsible management of Vermont's woodlands into perspective. You may not think of yourself as engaging in the Forest Products Industry. But you do. On some level we all do. We're woodlot owners, recreators, loggers, forest advocates, wildlife watchers, truckers, hunters and beer drinkers. Or, a finer point, we are using forest products every day. We have a special responsibility to care for our woodlands to insure that to some degree, they can continue to sustainably provide those resources we have come to depend on. Over the next few weeks, when I'm out stacking firewood, listening to the spring songs of brown creepers and nuthatches, I'm going to keep this in mind. I'm going to consider that the health of our Woodlands is not just important for those songbirds that I love to hear when the sap is running, but that a healthy forest is synonymous with a healthy life, community, state and nation. That the work we do to keep our forests healthy, is essential. Please stay safe. More to come. Allan Thompson