While digging into another project I'm working on, I ran across this video that, while not directly targeted at forest resource utilization, really does a great job of putting our land use challenges in perspective. The speaker, Dr. Jonathan Foley of the University of Minnesota, addresses in a very graphic and compelling way the impact that world population growth, and the related increase in demand for agricultural products, is changing the very face of the planet.
In the presentation, he proposes changing the concept of "agriculture" into one of "terraculture". In a way, the recent reorganization of Penn State's College of Ag Sciences, that included changing our School of Forest Resources into the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management, reflects this change in perspective. The administration of our college hopes to create an environment in which new collaborations can begin to address our natural resource challenges in a new and more meaningful way. In effect, instead of focusing on agriculture, aquaculture, and silviculture, we'll all be working together on issues of terraculture.
Truth is, up until this century, our world benefited from an embarrassment of riches, in which the resources outweighed the demand for them. But as Dr. Foley demonstrates, this ratio is visibly changing all over the globe, and we've got to become smarter about how we manage our farms, watersheds, and forests.