Jerry Franklin

Not seeing the forest for the trees (with Harry Greene)

THEMES: Definitions, Science & Research, Conservation  |  WORKSHOP: Synthesis


Jerry Franklin

Born in Waldport, Oregon in 1936, Jerry has B.S. and M.S. degrees in Forest Management from Oregon State University, and received a Ph.D. in Botany and Soils from Washington State University in 1966. He is currently affiliated with the University of Washington School of Forest Resources after 30 years with the US Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station. He spent two years as the first Ecosystem Studies program officer for the National Science Foundation, one year working abroad in Japan, and had extensive working visits in Australia, Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego. Jerry is interested in the ecology and management of forest ecosystems, with a strong geographic focus on temperate forests of northwestern North America. His career-long involvement in conservation of biodiversity, includes federal Research Natural Areas, UN Biosphere Reserves, Late Successional Reserves (NWFP), and management of National Park and Wilderness areas.




Harry Greene: I wonder how you think about the cliché about not seeing the forest for the trees and the vice versa of it?

Jerry Franklin: Well, you do need to know the specifics of the species. The species make an incredible difference in how these systems work. I spent a lot of time collaborating with another individual who's basic attitude was, "Well, species don't really matter. They're all interchangeable."

It's very clear to me they're not interchangeable and if you're going to intercede in these systems, you have to have a pretty good understanding of what their ecology is, how they work, how they reproduce themselves and how they relate to other elements in the community. That's natural history!

The challenge is to know as much as you can about as many different organisms that are out there as you can. And like you say, you won't know everything, won't ever know it. You won't ever be able to integrate it all, but you're probably going to do a whole lot better than random chance is going to do.