| 6/17/2015 10:00:00 AM

Tags: Ryan Trapani, Catskill Mountains, forest management, deer, New York,

Management Approaches

Many of us are familiar with the term “agriculture.” Agriculture, according to Wikipedia, “is the cultivation of animals, plants, fungi, and other life forms for food, fiber, biofuel, medicinal and other products used to sustain and enhance human life.”

Since 1978, another way of managing land has come into fruition too. According to founder Bill Mollison, "Permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted and thoughtful observation rather than protracted and thoughtless labor; and of looking at plants and animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single product system.”

In the forest setting, we have forestry. “Forestry is the science, art, and craft of creating, managing, using, conserving, and repairing forests and associated resources, in a sustainable manner, to meet desired goals, needs, and values for human benefit.”

Both agriculture and forestry share goals that meet mainly human desires. Permaculture, on the other hand, seeks to meet human-based goals while considering the entire ecosystem. There is plenty of overlap between these approaches, and their definitions can be highly subjective, but a general understanding can be reached.

Deer Management -  A Dead End Issue? 


Perhaps a new subset of these management systems could be Deerculture (You can insert your own term if you’d like). I just made this term up – as far as I know – since I know no other way to stress the importance of deer management. You might be thinking, “Isn’t deerculture too specific?” But is it? Deer are a keystone species throughout the eastern temperate forests of North America. I would argue that agriculture, forestry, and permaculture have all been compromised by the mismanagement of the white-tailed deer. Conservationist Aldo Leopold once said, “I now suspect that just as a deer herd lives in mortal fear of its wolves, so does a mountain live in mortal fear of its deer.” Deer are voracious eaters. One of them can eat 4 to 6 pounds of buds per day or between 1,460 and 2,190 pounds of vegetation annually. That adds up to a lot less vegetables; hay; apples; nut trees; timber trees; maple sugaring trees; mushrooms; ginseng; nectaries for bees; forest regeneration for biodiversity; regeneration for water quality and sediment control; cover for rabbits and songbirds, foxes, bears, grouse; landscape plantings; etc. No other species affects the forest understory – and the future forest – more than the white-tailed deer; except human beings that is.

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