Seeing the Birds for the Forest

Magazines face unprecedented challenges just getting to press, but we have our eye on the long game.
Logs pile up on the ground next to the trees that were cut down in the middle of a forest.
A timber company logs parts of this Northern California forest but preserves some old-growth trees and manages the land to support threatened Northern Spotted Owls. Photo: Morgan Heim

If you receive our print magazine, you may notice that the Fall 2022 issue looks and feels a bit different than the last one. (If you don’t, please consider subscribing by becoming a member today.) It’s the physical embodiment of a wild supply chain ride. Over the past two years, the paper industry—like all others connected to a global market—has been on a roller coaster of rising costs and plunging capacity. Early in the pandemic, mills shut down or shifted to producing packaging, while labor shortages and a flood of online shopping snarled transportation. At one point, our delivery of 200,000 pounds of paper was stuck at a port for months, sending us scrambling for a backup.

In this interlocking web of dependencies and market forces, there was one thing Audubon didn’t rely on: trees. We long ago decided to align the magazine’s production with Audubon’s conservation values, so we use a body paper made from 100 percent recycled content.

After all, birders and conservationists don’t take forests for granted. We appreciate the rich biodiversity they support, and we recognize the high stakes of cutting them down. Both are abundantly clear in this issue’s cover story. The Northern Spotted Owl may have survived the Timber Wars of the 1980s and ’90s, but the aggressive logging of old-growth forests that first put the bird in peril left it vulnerable to new threats. Now, preventing its extinction will require drastic action—including shooting another member of its genus.

Saving the Spotted Owl and other species will also require smart stewardship of the complex forest habitats where birds live. In this issue, we showcase landowners learning to conserve woodlands and land managers striving to make forests more resilient to climate change. We also follow one man on a highly personal quest: Jeff VanderMeer’s effort to rewild his forested backyard.

Using paper made from recycled fibers unfortunately didn’t buffer us from a global supply chain crisis. As it turns out, a waste stream supplied mostly by schools and offices also dries up during a pandemic. So we switched to the only other 100 percent recycled paper for magazines on the market, whose production is powered by biogas captured from landfills. A tremendous amount of effort goes into reporting, editing, and illustrating the award-winning journalism that goes into each issue, and a mind-boggling network of logistics underpins the platform that delivers it. Thanks for supporting us during every twist and turn.

This piece originally ran in the Fall 2022 issue. To receive our print magazine, become a member by making a donation today.