by John Lovseth
The Fifth World Forestry Conference took place in Seattle, Washington in the summer of 1960, during a post-war era of heightened productivity and a focus on improving and protecting forests.
Starting in 1926, the international forestry industry gathered every 6 years to share experiences and insight into managing the world's forests. For the first time, the United States joined. Though professional forestry had been practiced for over 50 years prior to the 1960 conference, forestry was still primarily concerned with growing trees quickly and protecting trees from damaging agents. For example, some of the titles found in the conference proceedings include "Progress in Forest Genetics and Tree Improvement" and "Present-Day Trends in Forest Disease Control in Britain". The massively important ecosystem services provided by forests, such as carbon sequestration, oxygen production, and water purification, were yet to be identified as benefits we receive from the forest. In many ways, trees were considered the same as a slow growing crop and not a complex ecosystem with dynamic stages of growth as we recognize them to be today (although there are tree plantations where trees are grown like crops, these are generally not considered as sustainable as uncultivated, native forests). In 1960, forest managers were not managing for ecosystem integrity which is now more common among progressive managers.
John Lovseth is an instructor at Principa College and the Land Steward Coordinator.