PORTLAND - Hal Salwasser, dean of the College of Forestry at Oregon State University, recently received the 2004 Environmental Excellence Award at the Northwest Environmental Conference in Portland, recognizing his extensive work in trying to balance environmental protection with social equity and a healthy economy.
The award was given by Associated Oregon Industries and honored the efforts Salwasser has made both in progressive forestry research and in trying to bring diverse groups together to achieve a broad range of environmental goals. John Ledger, AOI vice president, noted that this was the first time the award has been won by a member of the academic community.
"I know of no place in the world where a healthy environment occurs without a strong economy and some degree of social equity," Salwasser said in accepting the award. "In fact the worst environments I have seen are in places where poverty and illiteracy keep people bound in a daily struggle for subsistence."
Salwasser told the conference attendees that due to intense global competition, Oregon's forest products industry with its high labor rates, land values and high environmental standards will not be able to compete in an international economy on cost alone. To be successful the state must emphasize the high quality of its products and the environmental and social conditions under which they are produced, he said.
"We believe that sacrificing either economy for environment and community, or environment and community for economy, will ultimately bring down all three and degrade our future," Salwasser said. "An either-or mentality held by some is wrong. We must show the world that a healthy economy and vibrant communities thrive on healthy environments, and vice versa."
Salwasser has been dean of the OSU College of Forestry since 2000.