What This New Englander Has Learned about Our National Parks and Nature.
Growing up in a small, rural, New Hampshire town, I was born loving the outdoors. Being raised in a log cabin situated in the middle of a forest gives you a unique perspective on nature and wildlife. My sister and I would spend our days climbing huge glacial rock formations behind our house, using the roots of trees growing on the rocks as our rope. We’d pretend we were pioneers in the winter and hike through the snow covered woods. We got tips at a young age on what to do if we crossed paths with a black bear on our walks. And thunderstorms were always a little scary because we worried a tree would fall on our house.
After locating our fine furniture and home decor store on a 100 acre wood in the foothills of Vermont’s Green Mountain National Forest (see my last post), I found myself in the familiar position of trying to do something I knew little about. How would we properly manage this woodland for wildlife and sustainability? My friends Kathleen Wanner (Executive Director of the Vermont Wood Manufacturer’s Association VWMA) and Lynn Levine (a professional forester) suggested that Ken and I attend the Vermont Coverts:Woodlands for Wildlife Cooperator Training. What a great idea!
The program was last weekend at the Woods of Wikahowi in Northfield, VT. Ken had to cancel at the last minute but I attended along with a dozen or so like-minded landowners from all across Vermont. Because 80% of Vermont’s forestland is owned privately, the Coverts organization concluded that the key to sustaining our state’s forests & wildlife is education of private landowners. They provide a free 3-day training course every Spring and every Fall, focusing on classroom and field studies in forest and wildlife management.
The course was taught by Vermont’s foremost experts in forestry & wildlife including:
Lisa Sausville, Executive Director, Vermont Coverts
Mary Sisock, UVM Extension Forester
Kim Royar, VT Department of Fish and Wildlife
Dan Singleton, Washington County Forester
Steve Hagenbuch, Audubon VT
Kathy Decker, VT Forest, Parks and Recreation
Rich Chalmers, VP VT Coverts
VT Coverts is so committed to their mission that they offer the course for free, including food and lodging! Dedicated Coverts members work hard to meet expenses through grants and fundraising programs. If you own woodlands in Vermont or know someone who does, please refer them to the Coverts program. It’s an unforgettable weekend with fascinating people and thought-provoking discussion. The graduates of the program hold the future of Vermont’s forests in their hands.
Marlin was always venturing into exotic places like the African savannah or the Amazon rainforest, filming wild animals in their natural habitats. Orangutans, gorillas, kangaroos, pythons, lions, tigers, bears… the whole shebang. He would be holding a chimp and talking about conservation and… oh how I wanted to be him! Cuddling up with a tiger cub, rescuing a couple orphaned bear cubs — what could be better?
Although I didn’t end up majoring in zoology or doing research for Jane Goodall, my passion for wildlife conservation has stayed with me. Like most people I went for a “more practical career” and decided to pursue my passion as a hobby. I visited zoos and natural history museums whenever I could. I studied wildlife news in National Geographic, World Wildlife Fund, Sierra Club and other green publications. I poured my support into wildlife conservation non-profits.
But the real fun didn’t start along until Kendall and Riley came along. How convenient? It seems little boys love wildlife! We camped out in local beaver ponds and vernal pools getting to know the resident turtles, frogs, salamanders, snakes and such. We made trips to the rainforest, adopted snakes and started a non-profit called Kids Saving the Planet. Our adventures in Vermont’s forests and in the Central American rainforests eventually led to the creation of Vermont Woods Studios Sustainable Furniture. More about that in my next post.
* and the Wonderful World of Disney and Ed Sullivan Show, of course
Each year during the 3rd week of March our friends at the National Wildlife Federation celebrate wildlife, nature and our need to protect them. This year’s National Wildlife Week, March 18-23, explores the roles of trees for wildlife, people and communities.
As woodworkers, we at Vermont Woods Studios Fine Furniture have a thing about trees and forest conservation. NWF captures our sentiments: “from the canopy to the roots, trees are critical for thousands of wildlife species—from woodpeckers that drill on the trunks of mature trees, to beavers felling trees to build their homes, and huge moose eating tree leaves and sprouts in the forest. Not only do trees benefit wildlife at all stages of their lives—by providing shelter, nesting places, food, and hiding places for predators and prey—trees are also the lungs of the Earth, because they renew our air supply by absorbing carbon dioxide and producing oxygen for us to breathe.”
NWF is planting tens of thousands of trees this week, in over 200 communities across the country—bringing children and adults together to provide crucial habitat for wildlife. You can join their celebration by planting a tree, making a donation or sharing a photo of wildlife in trees (upload your photos to their Facebook timeline).
It’s a little early to be planting trees in Vermont this season, so at Vermont Woods Studios we’ll be participating by donating $1/sale to our Plant a Billion Trees initiative. Trees are the longest living organisms on our planet and one of the earth’s greatest natural resources. What are you doing to conserve them?
World Wildlife Fund's landmark Living Planet Report underscores our mission of Forest Conservation at Vermont Woods Studios
Our friends at the World Wildlife Fund have just published their bi-annual Living Planet Report. It's a landmark study of our planet in terms of the health of our forests, rivers and oceans.
The results aren't pretty. Here are some of the facts they highlighted about our environment:
We’ve lost 30 to 70 percent of our wildlife since 1970. That's an average. The tropics have lost 50 percent of their animals over the last 40 years, and tropical freshwater ecosystems have lost about 70 percent. The wild tiger population has suffered a 70 per cent decline in populations
We are living as if we have the resources of an extra planet at our disposal. We’re using 50 percent more resources than the Earth can provide sustainably
The U.S. has the fifth largest ecological footprint in terms of the amount of resources each person annually consumes. We rank only behind Qatar, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, and Denmark in the global rankings of the Ecological Footprint
These are just a few of the statistics noted in the 80 page report. But the good news is that it's not too late to save wildlife species and reverse unsustainable trends.
Green commerce plays a fundamental role in this as do you and I. The choices we make about our purchases will determine our planet's future.
Excerpts from World Wildlife Fund's landmark Living Planet Report