Thomas M. Hinckley
School of Environmental and Forest Sciences
University of Washington
‘Saving Forest Ecosystems: A Century Plus of Research and Education at the University of Washington’ provides a thorough and fascinating trip through time over a 113-year period beginning with the 1907 formation of the School of Forestry at the University of Washington. Although this is the second book detailing the history of forestry at the University of Washington, Professor Emeritus Robert ‘Bob’ Edmonds brings his own 50 plus year history as a graduate student, faculty, and administrator to not only updating the history of this important west coast program in forestry beyond what was covered in the 1973 ‘The Long Road Travelled,” he returns to the founding time of the School so that the reader better appreciates the evolution of teaching, research, and outreach that have occurred over the last century plus. One person, a state legislator, member of the Board of Regents, and soon to be a faculty member, Edmond Meany, championed both an arboretum and a forestry program. Meany became a faculty member and taught the first forestry course. In 1907, a School of Forestry emerged, then a College of Forestry, College of Forest Resources, School of Forest Resources, and finally a School of Environmental and Forest Sciences. These various academic program titles reflect many of the changes that have occurred over this 100 plus year history. Whether through internal or external forces these name changes reflect changes in academic and research emphasis that in many ways both followed and led changes in the broader external community. The housing of forestry in a non-land grant institution of higher learning often affected the nature and the pressures associated with the changes. Bob uses 13 chapters to trace this history with an emphasis on the last half century. Chapter 14 looks to the future.
Much of the early philosophy and direction brought to this academic unit had its origins in the 1217 Charter of the Forest and Germanic notions of forestry as brought to the United States and most forestry schools by Gifford Pinchot. This background was tempered by the conditions of the Pacific Northwest with its vast forests of oldgrowth and the abundance of highly-valued softwoods in these forests. These early underpinnings did not greatly change over the next six decades. What did change was the size of the unit, the diversity of its faculty and offerings, and the adjustments made as the depression, World War II, and post-war periods were weathered. Emerging in the late 1960s was a change in focus from stands, trees, and boards to forest communities and ecosystems; this shift was not entirely welcomed by both faculty in the then College of Forest Resources or the external support community. As a result over the next 40 years, the emphasis on wood products and traditional forestry declined and additional fields under the broad umbrella of ecosystem goods and services were emphasized and grew. Such units as the Centers for Streamside Studies and Urban Horticulture became part of the College. Pulp and Paper Sciences became Bioresource Science and Engineering with an emphasis on bioremediation and biofuels. When the College of Forest Resources ended, programs and faculty entered the new College of the Environment and the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences emerged. Through Bob’s detailed research and writing the elements and individuals associated with these changes are illuminated. The advantage of the wonderful mixture of detail and long-term perspective is a window into academic institutional change; an institutional often resistant to change.