8/09/2012

We Need To Harvest Trees

When a tree is milled every part of it is used except the smell

There is a saying that when a tree is milled that every part of it is used except the smell. That is good to know, because our trees are a necessary resource, and we should be making the most of every single one. But what good is the efficiency in the mills if our forests are being completely wasted at the same time?


Tree cutting is something that every tree-loving human must come to grips with. We need to harvest trees. Some scientists believe that civilization would have been impossible without the thousands of things produced with trees' wood, leaves, bark and roots. Trees are also a major source of energy around the world. Many homes on Vancouver Island are heated with wood stoves.

We need to harvest trees.

However, we do NOT need to harvest old growth trees, except in some circumstances where the unique properties of old wood are required, such as in instrument making. Careful selective old growth logging, that takes individual trees from forests in a sustainable way, would ensure this resource is around for future luthiers.

The wholesale clear cutting of original forests, wherever they are, is a very unwise practice. This is what is occurring in British Columbia, as has been the case for the past 150 years. It is not sustainable. When forests are cut on a 60 -80 year cycle, they never again reach the rich old age of old growth, which is at least 250 years old.

It is probable that industrial-scale logging of old growth, even that deemed sustainable, actually is not. Even the so-called 'sustainable forest management' practices can not sustain natural ecosystems. When you take the high value timber, you take the rest of the forest with it, and the ecosystem is damaged beyond repair.

BC's last remaining old growth should be made off-limits to logging immediately. Only 1% of the Coastal Douglas-fir forest on Vancouver Island remains in its original unlogged state. Even that small bit of forest is being hacked away at in a rush for the last of the big ones.

We need to harvest trees, but we do not need to harvest our last little bits of old growth. Unfortunately, our elected officials do not agree, and are in the process of selling off the last of the big trees until they are gone, and the ecological integrity of the primeval forest has been lost forever.

Then what?

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