Multiple Use Forest Management versus Ecosystem Forest Management: A Religious Question?

Forest Policy and Economics 35 (October 2013)

12 Pages Posted: 8 Dec 2013  

Robert H. Nelson

University of Maryland - School of Public Policy

Date Written: 2013

Abstract

From biblical times, forests have often provided sacred sites and otherwise played an important role in religion. Most contemporary professional foresters believe that this is no longer the case. This paper argues, however, that they have an unduly limited concept of religion. As I have described in other writings, two of the most influential religions of our time are “economic religion” and “environmental religion.” The former is a religion of economic progress that it is believed will transform the world morally as well as materially. Environmental religion, by contrast, assigns a greater ethical priority to protecting wild nature from human impacts. As this paper describes, the traditional forest management philosophy of multiple use and sustained yield is grounded in the tenets of economic religion. In the 1990s, a new philosophy of forest ecosystem management, grounded in the tenets of environmental religion, took its place. Decision making for public forests is not only a scientific exercise but also reflects deep conflicts of social values that are ultimately derived from secular religious foundations. A failure to understand this will make it impossible to achieve a full understanding of forest policy and management outcomes. The major role of religion in shaping society's views of forest purposes has taken new forms in the modern age but has never gone away.

Keywords: forest management, economic religion, environmental religion, clashes of values

JEL Classification: B5, Q2, Q5

Suggested Citation

Nelson, Robert H., Multiple Use Forest Management versus Ecosystem Forest Management: A Religious Question? (2013). Forest Policy and Economics 35 (October 2013). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2364491

Robert H. Nelson (Contact Author)

University of Maryland - School of Public Policy ( email )

College Park, MD 20742-1815
United States
301-405-6345 (Phone)
301-718-4377 (Fax)

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