On the re-publication of ‘Analogue Forestry – An Introduction’

On the re-publication of ‘Analogue Forestry – An Introduction’

It has been about thirty-five years since I began to develop and promote the idea that we had to use the designs of nature in forestry. Prompted by the urgency created by disappearance of indicator species, the study of microhabitats and their sustainability led me to appreciation of forest function. The study of ecosystem physiognomy led me to an appreciation of forest structure. I began to realize that what was being sold to the world as ‘forests’ were actually even aged monoculture plantations with neither the structure nor the functions of the original forest.

Desperate attempts by activists to clearly define the word ‘forest’ were met with boredom and indifference, and all the while millions of dollars were being invested in responding to forest loss with absurdly inappropriate timber plantations termed ‘forests’. Everyone seemed content with the ‘status quo’. In frustration, I fled to the hills to live there for eight years designing and planting my ideas in restoring structure and function. My response to the inevitable question of ‘what are you doing?’ was ‘attempting to be analogous to the forest’.

Belipola, the first experiment in being analogous to the forest, continues to teach even up to this day. Being analogous to a forest sometimes means using exotic species, which has raised concerns. These concerns are rooted in a vision of a return to the ‘original’ state of the environment. It is hard to consider the removal of people form a landscape that they settled in and claim ownership to. In these anthropogenic areas, the lost forest cannot be brought back, but something ‘analogous’ to it can be, which can also be useful to people. It is not the same, but rather similar. Not all native species are useful in this context. Just as exotic species can be anathema in a conservation forest, native species can sometimes be anathema in anthropogenic forests. The designer considers all these aspects.

It was only in 1993, when working as the Research Fellow (Ecologist) with the Centre for Farm Planning and Land Management, at Melbourne University, that I began working on a text, encouraged by Peter Mathews and John Jack, my co-author, I completed the draft by 1995. It is a great pleasure to see it being republished on the web by IAFN. This could not have happened without the help of the dedicated staff of the Geography & Environmental Science Department at Monash University.

Analogue forestry has come a long way from there, as a system designed to be productive economically, productive in biodiversity and productive in biomass. It is becoming a promising promoter of global cooling, the creation of cloud condensation nuclei, cleaning groundwater and oxygen generation. To understand the philosophy that guides it, this book will be the best resource.

To download a copy of the book, click on the link below:

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