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RESEARCH TO SUSTAIN FOREST ECOSYSTEMS MUST INTENSIFY

 RESEARCH TO SUSTAIN FOREST ECOSYSTEMS MUST INTENSIFY
 WASHINGTON, March 24 /PRNewswire/ -- Research must intensify now to


acquire the scientific knowledge needed to maintain sustainable forest ecosystems in the future, according to the Society of American Foresters (SAF).
 However, officials of the national educational and scientific organization of 18,000 forestry professionals report that the forests, covering one third of the United States, are, at present, in generally good condition.
 "This country is blessed, overall, with the soil, climate and water conditions that allow foresters to ensure healthy forests for the future," said William H. Banzhaf, executive vice president of the 18,000-member society. "However, we best not take these blessings for granted -- we must invest in research now so we can ensure the future environmental and economic health dividend available from our nation's forestlands."
 Banzhaf's assessment comes at a century milestone for the forestry profession in the United States. In 1892, Gifford Pinchot, the first U.S. forester, applied scientific forestry practices to 7,000 acres of eroded agricultural land on the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina. His work resulted in a rebirth of the forest, and a small profit for Biltmore's owner.
 "For the first time in America, in 1892, a forester helped improve the condition of the land while supplying wood products for consumer demand," noted Banzhaf. "The forester's niche to this day is to provide for economic health and environmental quality."
 Although the challenge of providing wood products while protecting the land remain the same, forestry has undergone many changes over the past hundred years.
 "Science and technology have greatly contributed to what we know about the forest, and what we can do to protect it," said Banzhaf. "At the same time, the public's expectations for the forest to provide recreation opportunities, wildlife habitat, wood products, and a sustainable ecosystem have increased greatly."
 The condition of the American forest has improved since the turn of the century, according to Banzhaf. "The eastern United States, now more than 45 percent forested, was heavily logged back then," he said. "The western United States provides timber while also including millions of acres of wilderness and other preserved lands."
 "The United States has 70 percent of the amount of forestland as when Columbus first came to America, even given the explosive population growth and development of the past 500 years, and particularly the last century," Banzhaf said.
 Looking ahead, Banzhaf said that ensuring sustainable forest ecosystems requires more research than is currently being funded.
 "Unless the country begins allocating dollars to landscape-level ecosystem research, the forestry profession will not be able to deliver on our professional commitment to manage our forests with an understanding of the total forest system."
 For a brochure about forestry in the United States, send a self- addressed, stamped envelope to SAF/Pinchot, 5400 Grosvenor Lane, Bethesda, Md., 20814, or call 301-897-8720.
 -0- 3/24/92
 /NOTE: To interview Banzhaf or a forester in your community, call the contact below./
 /CONTACT: Paula Tarnapol of the Society of American Foresters, 301-897-8720/ CO: Society of American Foresters ST: District of Columbia IN: SU:


SM -- NYEFNS11 -- 0846 03/24/92 07:01 EST
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Date:Mar 24, 1992
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