Society of American Foresters

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Society of American Foresters

Established in 1900 by Gifford Pinchot , considered to be America's first scientifically trained forester, the Society of American Foresters (SAF) is a scientific and educational organization representing the forestry profession in the United States. With a membership of over 18,700 in 1997, it is the largest professional society for foresters in the world. SAF's mission is to "advance the science, education, technology, and practice of forestry; to enhance the competency of its members; to establish professional excellence; and to use the knowledge, skills, and conservation ethic of the profession to ensure the continued health and use of forest ecosystems and the present and future availability of forest resources to benefit society." Although the focus of this organization is on forestry, the SAF addresses issues and concerns of a variety of natural resource professionals.

To be a professional member of SAF, one must hold a bachelor's or higher degree in forestry from an SAF-accredited or candidate institution, or hold a comparable degree in a closely related field of natural resources and have at least three years of forestry-related experience. There is a code of ethics for members that emphasizes stewardship of the land and that advocates land management that is consistent with ecologically sound principles. Members are expected to perform services consistent with their knowledge and skills, and for which they are qualified by education or experience.

The SAF provides an array of services for its members and for the forestry community as a whole, including the publication of the Journal of Forestry, the SAF's chief publication, three regional technical journals, a newsletter, and Forest Science, a quarterly research journal. Technical expertise is provided through the organization's 28 working groups that cover a broad range of subdisciplines and through supporting continuing education programs. The SAF accredits forestry programs in universities, ensuring that curriculum meet standards considered to be needed by forestry graduates. It provides background and key testimony to natural resource policy makers on forestry issues, including timber harvesting methods, forest management , clean water legislation, and wetlands . For example, many of the recommendations of the SAF were incorporated into the Endangered Species Conservation and Management Act of 1995.

Environmental issues, particularly during the 1980s and 1990s, have stimulated a diversity of opinions and views about the profession of forestry and the role of the SAF. The spotted owl issue, the role of clear-cutting in forest management, the management and protection of old growth forests , and other forestry issues have been debated within the SAF just as they have been debated in society as a whole. Many views are represented by members of the SAF, including those with a forest products orientation and those promoting an ecosystems-based management approach that places high values on forest attributes such as biodiversity . Some members advocate the return to the basics of conservation, emphasizing both production and environmental protection. Clearly there is a broader view of the profession of forestry within SAF and perhaps a greater diversity of opinions than in the past. With this diversity, the SAF will continue to play a major role in how future forests are managed, particularly on public lands.

[Kenneth N. Brooks ]



Society of American Foresters, 5400 Grosvenor Lane, Bethesda, MD USA 20814 (301) 897-8720, Fax: (301) 897-3690, Email: [email protected], <>

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Society of American Foresters