Our newly updated Taylor & Francis Online search bar background showcases Dr. Uromi Manage Goodale, M.F.S. (Masters in Forest Science), Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Sustainable Forestry (JSF), teaching students in a woodland area surrounding Guangxi University, Nanning, China, in May.
So, what exactly is going on in the photos? How do early career researchers get into forestry sustainment? And looking beyond publishing, what is the largest threat to our ecosystem, and how has forestry sustainment changed over time? Read on for the full story behind the picture.
Q&A with Dr. Uromi Manage Goodale, M.F.S, Ph.D.
What made you want to research the sustainment of forestry?
I grew up in the city in Colombo, Sri Lanka. As a child, I never experienced the forest, but as a high school student I went to the Sinharaja Forest Reserve and was fascinated by the deep forest, its majestic trees, and the dawn and dusk sounds.
In a film, I watched a distinguished professor climbing a ladder to the top of the trees to conduct pollination experiments. This film clip left a lasting impression on me and I was very excited about the possibility of studying the forest in similar ways. After graduating with a special degree in Botany from the University of Colombo, I then enrolled in the Forest Science Master’s program at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies (FES), later becoming a Ph.D. student.
Can you outline your route to becoming Editor-in-Chief of the JSF?
At the FES Master’s program, I received a work study fellowship, but it was a simple task and not very challenging. Fortunately, the founding editor of the JSF noticed that I carefully followed all instructions for writing the term paper, which was essentially the JSF Author Guide. He then asked me if I would like to work as the Editorial Assistant for the journal. This was in 1999, and since then I have continuously worked for the journal, moving up the ranks from Editorial Assistant to an Assistant Editor, and then an Associate Editor, and since December 2014 as its Editor-in-Chief.
What proves to be the largest threat or fear to the forest ecosystem?
I think that the main cause is human greed: constant need for more resources, newer items and larger living spaces. The mentality that we need ‘things’ to be happy and successful in life and that getting them at the expense of even our own peril is acceptable.
Recent research by Prof. Lawrence and authors (2012) has shown that the main threats explaining the declining health of protected tropical reserves are habitat disruption, hunting, and forest-product exploitation. Habitat degradation and loss, when combined with climate change, is a formidable force that threatens our forested ecosystems. Sadly, we may be beyond the tipping point in turning things around, but that does not mean that we should not keep our focus on improving the situation.
How has forestry sustainment changed over the last 50 years? Is it noticeably different?
Sustainable forest management in a country or region (or progress made towards “Sustainable Forest Management (SFM)”), is evaluated and reported using policy instruments such as “Criteria & Indicators of Sustainable Forest Management” (C&I). This provides a framework that characterizes the main components of SFM, while recognising forests as ecosystems that provide a wide range of environmental, economic, and social benefits to society.
Since 1992, approximately 150 countries have been participating in one or more of nine currently existing C&I processes (FAO, 2015). In addition to such C&I policy instruments, other assessments and programs evaluate forest conditions and appraise forest management practices, forestry processes, and forest products. So, we have formal policy instruments, but we are still behind in making sure that they translate into action on the ground and reduce the threatening demands of forested land and its resources.
What would you like to see more of to aid the maintenance our forests?
I will focus on one key factor that is important to me: education. Providing an education for our children rooted in sustainable living is the key to having a future population that understands the value and importance of forests, and our natural resource for our own survival in this planet. This should not be just the work of the forester and the conservation biologist; we all need to take part in a way of thinking and being that allows us to maintain and use our forests in a sustainable manner.
Our food comes from a machine - a refrigerator - and our children do not easily connect the dots from the forest to the chair that they sit on in school. It’s crucial that we understand our dependence on the natural environment, the impact our actions have on its sustainability, and the central role that it plays in our health and the health of our planet.
Do you have any tips for anyone looking to move into the field of forestry sustainment?
If you are passionate about this subject there are some great programs in forestry that will help you become a professional in the field. For me, finding what I am passionate about and pursuing it landed me in this field. If forestry and sustainability is an interest to you, there is so much work that can be done, and we need each and every one of our energies to make our world a sustainable environment to live in.
- FAO (2016). The global forest resources assessment 2015. How are the world’s forests changing? Second Edition. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, FAO, Rome. pp. 54.
- Laurance, W.F., Useche, D.C., Rendeiro, J., Kalka, M., Bradshaw, C.J.A., Ansell, F., Laurance, S.G., Edwards, D.P., and ancillary co-authors including U. M. Goodale. 2012. Averting biodiversity collapse in tropical forest protected areas. Nature. 489: 290–294.