USDA Forest Service
Faith: Global Partnerships for Conservation
Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth
Jewish National Fund Centennial
Washington, D.C. January 27, 2002
JNF President Ron Lauder
and the JNF Board of Directors: Thank you
for inviting me to share in this Tu B'Shevat Program,
which honors the 100th anniversary of the Jewish
My own agency, the USDA Forest Service, will celebrate
its centennial in 2005. We both have a long and
proud history. The New Century of Service pins you
received help symbolize our past contributions and
the fresh spirit of service we want to bring to
our mission of "caring for the land and serving
Before I continue, let me introduce my colleagues
who will be part of this celebration:
- Sally Collins, the Associate Chief of the Forest
- Val Mezainis, Director of our International
- Thomas Hoekstra, Director of the Inventory and
Monitoring Institute as well as Manager of our
Middle East Program.
I know I speak for all of us when I say we are
honored to be guests at this special event.
In some of my discussions last fall with Gideon
Witkon, Russell Robinson, and Zevi Kahanov, I learned
a lot about the JNF's role in Israel during the
last 100 years.
Your work includes land acquisition and management,
tree planting, soil and water conservation, and
land development for new settlements. That's quite
a range of responsibility for a single organization.
Three Chiefs before me have been to Israel; I hope
to be the fourth. I recently accepted an invitation
to visit Israel in early May and see firsthand what
you've accomplished there. I'm also interested in
seeing the fruits of our partnership.
In North America, we are blessed with abundant,
diverse forests and woodlands. Managing this land
to provide valuable renewable resources has its
challenges. I understand that you are facing some
of the same challenges in Israel in the face of
increasing public scrutiny.
My colleagues and I know a lot about public scrutiny.
We'll be happy to share our experience and our
pain there's plenty of both to go around.
Perhaps you can't acquire the first without experiencing
a lot of the second. But I'm not discouraged. I
believe we'll come together at some point, as Americans,
and focus on what unites us instead of what divides
us. Personally, I applaud the intent of our environmental
laws; but the people who actually do the work on
the land will tell you that all the laws, regulations,
and procedures can make it hard to do good resource
management on the land.
Our goal at the Forest Service is to work with
our fellow Americans to strike the right balance
between social, economic, and ecological sustainability.
In this way we can meet the needs of the present
without compromising the ability of future generations
to meet their own needs and make their own
We must get together as Americans to restore the
national forests to health. The tragic events of
September 11 reminded us again how Americans pull
together in times of crisis. The Forest Service
is leading an initiative to create four living memorials
for the victims of that terrorist attack. A network
of state, local, and nonprofit groups will bring
people together to plant and care for the memorials
in New York, Pennsylvania, northern Virginia, and
Washington, D.C. We invite you to join us in that
Our relationship with the Jewish National Fund,
now 15 years old, is a good model of how two organizations
can work together for the benefit of everyone. The
roots of our collaboration began with technical
exchanges on the subject of fire. We continue to
share our experience and technology in this area.
The global causes and consequences of fire are
increasingly visible, from Siberia to Southeast
Asia. In Siberia, an outbreak of fires can cover
millions of acres; in 1915, smoke plumes from Siberian
fires combined to form a cloud the size of Europe.
The consequences of fire on this scale can affect
global climate, perhaps long-term.
Another example: In Indonesia in the late 1990s,
the effects of El Niño resulted in a severe
drought. Annual burning done by farmers and others
as part of their agrarian traditions resulted in
huge fires that destroyed native forests. The smoke
generated by the fires closed airports and scorched
lungs for months.
It benefits all of us to share what we know. Parts
of Siberia are already benefiting from U.S. prescribed
fire techniques for land management. International
fire studies in the Amazon, where fires often burn
for months, can help the Brazilians protect their
forests and grasslands.
And the United States benefits from other countries.
During our 2000 fire season, one of the most severe
ever, some 800 international firefighters came here
from Australia, Canada, Israel, Mexico, and New
Besides working together on fire, JNF and the Forest
Service have carried out more than 100 technical
exchange missions on a full range of natural resource
management subjects. We codeveloped a forestry education
program where Israeli foresters can come to the
United States for training. They can even earn a
master's degree in forestry or a related field of
The JNF in cooperation with some Israeli
universities is working with Forest Service
researchers on some of the arid land problems that
face both countries. These studies include fire,
insect and disease problems, and landscape management
of Mediterranean oak.
Let's not forget water. The arid landscape of Israel
has a lot in common with the southwestern United
States. We both know that healthy watersheds give
us clean water. We have long-term studies underway
to strengthen the scientific basis for watershed
protection and restoration. In the years ahead,
we expect the National Fire Plan to let us move
forward with even more projects to maintain and
restore watershed function. I see opportunities
for collaboration and information sharing on water;
I'm sure you do, too.
One of JNF and the Forest Service's most recent
collaborations here in the United States is the
celebration of Tu B'Shevat. As we celebrate here
today, the Tonto National Forest and the JNF office
in Phoenix are cosponsoring a celebration in Phoenix
for the second year. They are planting a tree, enjoying
the fruit, and dancing all of the wonderful
things that go with Tu B'Shevat.
The Tonto is a major urban-use forest, and JNF
is an important local partner there. Three years
ago, the Angeles National Forest in California had
a similar event. With your continued help and friendship,
we hope to expand the program across the country.
Tree of Faith
You know, speaking of trees, Barbara Walters once
got into a lot of trouble because she asked one
of her guests, "If you were a tree, what kind
of tree would you be?" Well, I'm not on TV,
so I'm going to risk an analogy here, and it involves
Our partnership keeps growing stronger, branching
out to new locations and new activities. It's working,
I think, because both sides bring a lot of faith
to the table. The dictionary defines faith as "confident
belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of
a person, idea, or thing." That certainly applies
here. Our partnership is a tree of faith; may it
In closing, let me say again how honored we are
to be here. Thanks for listening.