A Whole-Systems Solution


A large problem requires a large solution

Previous efforts to address fire and drought have failed because they have not used a whole systems approach. Industry and citizen groups rarely communicate. Responsibilities are fragmented among local, state, and federal agencies; regulations work at cross-purposes. Citizen groups resist forest management plans due to legitimate concerns of past histories of disregarding environmental protections as well as knee-jerk reactions to any form of tree removal. 

To address this problem and develop a whole systems approach, we (the Center for the Study of Force Majeure, P’isew ‘Mangal, Sagehen Creek Field Station, National Forest Foundation, Shift Consulting and special advisor Amy Horne) formed a coalition that believes there is a major opportunity for a broad range of stakeholders to succeed in resolving in these seemingly intractable problems. We call our group, Saving the West.

We start with specific successes in California, working closely with government agencies other foundations, community groups and entrepreneurs, with the intent to broaden our geographic scope in the entire west where similar problems of fire suppression, drought, the need to implement work at scale and connect to a broader public through targeted communications and art. Yes art! We are working on a solution that integrates:

  • Low impact, ecologically designed forest management projects at the multiple stand and forest levels;
  • Long-term job creation focused on small business and underserved communities in economically depressed regions;
  • Support of a community-centric manufactured wood products industry based on renewable small-tree source materials to run/produce semi-stationary sawmills, cross-laminated timber, oriented strand board, small-scale biomass, woodchip, post-and-pole, and pallet production. Higher value small-diameter wood utilization will not only reduce the heavy carbon footprint of steel and concrete needed in building, it will store massive amounts of carbon indefinitely. New technologies for clean burning fuel will support local electrical generation and heating needs; and

  • The use of art to generate new ideas and metaphors that can convey complicated climate change, conservation and resource management messages to a far-ranging audience.