Saving Forest Ecosystems: A Century Plus of Research and Education at the University of Washington

Alec Solemslie

Dual Degree Candidate: Master of Science and Master of Public Administration

School of Environmental and Forest Sciences

and Evans School of Public Policy and Governance

 

Professor Edmonds has written a primer of the history of forestry in the Pacific Northwest and at the University of Washington. A combination of written history, personal accounts, speculations, and perspectives from the outside world form a book that is not only enjoyable to read but also provides a solid foundation of what it means to be part of the University of Washington’s forestry community. The decorated history of the now School of Environmental and Forest Sciences (SEFS) is a story of the Pacific Northwest, the international connections to Washington, and the development and shifts of the American West society. Professor Edmonds illustrates the adaption of forestry education in the wake of change and raises the alarm on the obstacles forestry education now faces at the University of Washington.

 

Every chapter of this book provides a rich context of SEFS’s presence today and what not to forget in the past. All those who walk through the halls of SEFS should highly consider reading this history, especially our undergraduate and graduate students. SEFS is more complex than it seems, and much of the SEFS network not taught in the classroom is reflected here through our various research centers and properties away from the central campus. For those lost in curiosity or unsure of their place in the world of SEFS, inspiration comes from personal accounts and the overview of our varied research, illustrating the complex world that there is to explore and find passion.

 

I found the first chapters particularly enjoyable as Professor Edmonds provided a history of the college and the PNW forestry world, highlighting the challenges the college adapted to and how the PNW is a historic crux of environmental change. The later chapter on research once again sparked my internal joy of discovery and curiosity of what it means to learn and explore this diverse field. In the end, while SEFS has a diverse portfolio, Professor Edmonds’ work to create this book illustrates how much further education and research must go to develop a representative body of students and faculty to reinforce the environmental world. While this book covers the myriad that is the history of education and research at UW, a deeper discussion on UW’s impact on our local communities, extending beyond the reaches of our close partners, may further illustrate the gravity of UW research and education. While the personal accounts of UW alumni and our outreach touches on this subject, Professor Edmonds could ask how are UW and SEFS reflected in our communities, directly and indirectly, and how does that impact the prospects of SEFS?

 

In the end, Professor Edmonds paints a bleak picture of the future of forestry, the environment, and the capacity that SEFS must take on an uncertain future. While bleak and uncertain, I believe that Professor Edmonds is raising the alarm. SEFS’s history demonstrates that resilient personalities and dedicated communities here at UW will face adversity, even while in disagreement with one another, to preserve unparalleled research and education in the PNW.

October 8, 2021