In 1870, the Menominee inventoried 1.3 billion standing board feet of timber on their 235,000 acres. Since then, they have harvested nearly twice that amount—2.25 billion board feet. Considering the “clear-cutting” methods of the corporate lumber merchants you hear about, which completely strips land of its trees, you’d expect that the Menominee would have barely a single tree left, not to mention any forest wildlife. In fact, they have 1.7 billion board feet left, more than they had in 1870, and a thriving forest ecosystem.
That’s because the Menominee tend to cut only the weaker trees, leaving behind the strong mother trees and enough of the upper canopy for the arboreal animals to continue to inhabit. They have figured out what the forest can productively offer them instead of considering only what they want to take from it.
This is largely how every other species on earth lives—in harmony with the environment. Lions neither starve themselves nor gorge to the point of wiping out the gazelle population. Instead, they promote the health of the gazelle herd by culling its weaker members and preventing herd overgrowth which in turn prevents overgrazing of the savannah. Animal waste does not poison the ground but fertilizes the soil so that it can produce more vegetation for the animals to eat. Bees feed on the pollen of flowers but far from damaging them they provide the crucial service of pollinating them.
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