Senator John Heinz


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The Heinz Awards


Jerry Franklin

Jerry Franklin receives the Heinz Award for the Environment for transforming forest management in a way that helps to better sustain America's forests.

A forest ecologist and progenitor of a new paradigm integrating ecological and economic objectives in managing the nation's forests, Dr. Franklin has been dubbed the "father of new forestry." He is one of the country's leading authorities on sustainable forest management, and his one-time unconventional views on forest management have since become established practice.

Dr. Franklin challenged the long-accepted practice of clear-cutting and, instead, advanced solutions that were based more on science. His "new forestry" strategy for logging - which advocates leaving logs and other wood debris, standing dead trees and some larger live trees - more closely aligns with the scale and character of natural disturbances. While his views were met at first with skepticism and derision within the industry, his "new forestry" principles now have been embraced by environmentalists and timber companies alike.

Long before he became known as the "guru of old-growth forests," Dr. Franklin was a research forester for the USDA Forest Service, a position he accepted in 1959. Since then, he has established a legacy of long-term experiments designed to enrich the science of future generations. His knowledge of the distinctive and vital attributes of old-growth forests, as well as his understanding of natural disturbances and the ecosystem recovery process, have placed him on many local, national and global commissions dedicated to scientific and policy analyses of forest issues.

He was director of the ecosystem studies program for the National Science Foundation and president of the Ecological Society of America, among other positions. In 1993 he was among the scientists who assembled with President Clinton to discuss old-growth preserves, logging practices and threatened and endangered species. He was a major contributor to the Northwest Forest Plan, the first large ecologically integrated forest plan in the world, which covered 24 million acres of federal lands in the Northwest. The plan resolved the controversy over the spotted owls and timber jobs.

Dr. Franklin's career as a teacher began in 1975 at Oregon State University. Later, he became professor of ecosystem analysis at the University of Washington in Seattle, and now serves as the director of the Wind River Canopy Crane Research Facility, where he has installed a 250-foot-tall construction crane that allows scientists to probe the relationship between forests and climate change within the canopy.

With unwavering courage and conviction, wisdom and passion, Dr. Jerry Franklin has dramatically expanded our knowledge of natural forest ecosystems and used this knowledge to help redefine forest management in the United States and many parts of the world. Because of his contributions, millions of acres of forests have a more sustainable future.

Note: This profile is excerpted from the commemorative brochure published at the time of the awards' presentation.


5/24/2005 - Acceptance Speech

Mark, I admire you for your remarks. My reflections are in part a little more personal. My decision to work for trees and forests was borne in the mind of an eight-year old boy playing beneath some immense old-growth Douglas Firs. Forestry was the path I chose. Science was the branch that I chose to follow - believing that knowledge would be the most persuasive tool for a forest advocate - for that's what I've been; an advocate for the trees and the forests. The joys and rewards of this path have exceeded the wildest imaginations of that boy.

Circumstances have allowed me to contribute to an enlarged understanding of how natural forest ecosystems work and how we can use that knowledge in improving our stewardship of our natural resources. I have to say the most important of those circumstances were the extraordinary individuals and teams of people with whom I have worked and on whose shoulders I stand in terms of my accomplishments. And I particularly acknowledge a friend, an advisor and a mentor, William K. Ferrell, who was there at some very critical points giving me some very wise advice when the trail branched.

As we enter the 21st Century, there are some major, major threats, new ones, to our forests and wild lands. And foremost among these threats are the effects of global climate change, of virulent introduced exotic forest pests and pathogens, and globalization of the wood products industry. All of these things are ultimately going to require the most comprehensive understanding that we can have of these forests and how they work and an application of that knowledge. Introductions of exotic pests and pathogens are probably the most dangerous potential threat to the forests of North America and this is because global change requires a lot of adaptation, a lot of adjustment. When you extirpate a species, as we effectively did with the chestnut blight, you don't have anything to work with anymore. Tree species, even forest ecosystems are lost.

Some of the effects of a globalized wood products industry are counter-intuitive and I don't think many people out there recognize what the real issues are for us here in North America and in other temperate regions of the world, because there are risks to our ability to maintain much of our forest landscape and to conduct the appropriate stewardship of those forest landscapes. And effectively we are losing timber industry from the North American continent. While you might think that to be a good thing, in fact, it creates some very serious challenges for us here in the United States and North America.

With a loss of economic incentives that go with various goods and services like timber, what incentives will exist for tens of millions of private forest landowners to retain their lands and forest cover and to carry out the stewardship? Similarly on our public lands, where will we find the will and the funds to carry out the stewardship that is so essential, because we have an incredible job of both restoration and continued stewardship? Hence the need for continuing research and applications of scientific information in ecologically based management has never been grateful.

I would like to conclude by saying that I am deeply grateful to the Heinz Foundation for this award. Both for the personal recognition and for the heightened public profile that it gives to the challenges that we face in stewardship of our forests. In this century, we have to be partners with those forests because we have changed this globe so much. I also want to just say to Teresa, I'm overwhelmed by receiving an award that in many ways acknowledges the life of what was clearly a very extraordinary individual.

Thank you.
Jerry Franklin