Blog 3: The Art of Choosing a Tree

Sigrid and Jim walk through the forest (© Morten Bo Johansson)© Morten Bo JohanssonFSC Denmark annually hosts a Design Award competition for Danish design and architecture students based on their use of wood and sustainable practices. The winner of the 2014 FSC Denmark Design Award, Sigrid Juel Jensen, has won a trip to Canada, where she will visit FSC-certified forests, develop a version of her winning design at a local workshop and get a close look at FSC and responsible forest management in Canada.

With tremendous humility for nature and the role we humans play in it, forest manager Jim Drescher, who today is 72 years old, has been managing this area of 80 hectares for over 25 years. 

We join Jim on a tour to look at the forest around Windhorse Farm. Wearing long green rubber boots, he shows us what he is passionate about, namely forests and leads us through one great forest scenario after another.  There are small streams and lakes, and dead and fallen trees are allowed to take their place in the forest ecosystem. For Jim the forest is itself the product and the timber harvested, is just a by-product. For him it is about maintaining the forest's natural integrity.

170 Years of Sustainable Forestry

The forest here is FSC certified and Jim was involved in the development of the first FSC standard for this region but the forest here has, according to Jim driven sustainable for 170 years. "This is the oldest example of sustainable forestry in Canada,” says Jim, while the sun shines through the high treetops. "The forest is of the same quality as it was 170 years ago," he explains.  

Is a Fallen Tree a Dead Tree?

"A dead tree can be more alive than a living tree," says Jim. It is essential for the forest cycle. A dead tree can easily stand for 40 years and being home to a wealth of life. 50% of forest animals live in the dead trees, not the living. "Here you can really see how a natural forest would look like, if not we humans affect it that much. One can clearly see how the trees forms the landscape because they just were cleared away, but as they fall or rot, they are helping to create ponds and habitats for small animals, “says Sigrid.”

The Art of Choosing a Tree

We ask Jim how they choose which trees to be cut. “There has been harvesting in this forest every year for the last 170 years, but "only five people selected trees for felling in the forest here ever," says Jim. "The farm's previous owners and now me." 

When he walks in the woods, he points out trees that could possibly be cut. "I never cut the tallest trees, for they have an important role. Trees don’t like other trees to be higher than them, “he says. It is all about access to the light. "The higher the trees grow, the more lives can be in the forest from crown to root." Instead, he chooses the trees that are not essential for forest diversity. It’s like trees standing too close to others grow slower. 

Managing a Forest Like a Squirrel

Jim explains that ideal forest management is living like forest animals. They too use the forest, but do it in a way that does not destroy it. "A squirrel can take a pine cone and eat the seeds without destroying the forest balance,” he says. 

Hear Jim Drescher, Co-founder of Windhorse Farm, talk about his base for sustainable forest operations and its role as forest owners.

What’s next for Sigrid? 

Read Blog #4 where Sigrid begins building her design and walks into beaver territory. 

© Forest Stewardship Council® · FSC® F000205