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AWARDS

Herb Hammond is Recipient of Canadian Environmental Award

SilvaIn 2003, Herb Hammond won the Gold Medal for Sustainable Living , a prestigious Environmental Award sponsored by Canadian Geographic. Herb is a forester, ecologist, and educator and serves as the Executive Director of the Silva Forest Foundation. He has pioneered the development and application of ecosystem-based conservation planning.

 

From the Canadian Geographic web site:
"You don’t build an economy from the top down. You build it from the bottom up, like an ecosystem itself."

In 1982, forest ecologist, professional forester and educator Herb Hammond thought of himself as someone striving in life to become "a competent generalist." A call that year from leaders of British Columbia's Nisga'a Tribal Council, who were seeking help to prepare a report about what they considered mismanagement of their land in the Nass River Valley, put that goal within reach. Welcomed by First Nations people and empowered by their sense of patience and respect for the land, Hammond began to chart a new course for managing a forest ecosystem. "I learned to focus on what to leave in the forest, not what to take," he says.

Today, Hammond's Silva Forest Foundation (SFF), which is based in the Slocan Valley, is at the forefront of ecosystem-based conservation and stewardship in Canada. Renowned for its practical planning, empowering workshops and public outreach programs, the SFF works with First Nations and rural communities to show them socially and economically viable options for ecosystem protection and use.

Hammond believes that the people who live close to an ecosystem are the ones equipped to make the right choices about its care. As a result, community control is vital. "You don't build an economy from the top down," he explains. "You build it from the bottom up, incorporating diversity like an ecosystem itself. Healthy local economies breed large national and international economic success."

Aware of the timber industry's lack of familiarity with the community-based concept, Hammond is determined to illustrate the ecological, social and economic benefits to be shared by all. "In their hearts," he says, "workers are concerned with something more than the bottom line." Managing Canadian forests to satisfy our need for wood while protecting ecosystems is the starting point in what Hammond hopes will be a long-term and sustainable solution. "You can plant a tree," he says, "but you can't plant a forest."

 

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