Some old growth logging part of balance
The Thursday, June 24 Citizen has three items about protecting old growth forest. MLA Sonia Furstenau has introduced to the legislature a petition signed by 30,000 British Columbians as well as by 8,000 people from 20 countries on five continents. Former governor general Adrienne Clarkson has signed an open letter calling for the immediate protection of all remaining old-growth forests in B.C.. Other signatories include musicians Bryan Adams and Neil Young, an NHL player, the CEO of Indigo Books, and three well known actors. They should know. After all, they’re famous.
For several years I worked my university summers hiking the woods of B.C. with teams of classifiers taking stock of forest stands around the province. I love big trees and am keen to preserve natural wonders such as the ancient forests. In eastern California stands a wizened Bristlecone Pine over 4,800 years old. The giant Sequoias or Redwoods can be 2,400 years old. Even in our soggy rainforest of Vancouver Island, I have seen a core taken with a Swedish increment borer demonstrating that the Douglas fir sampled had 1,088 rings/years. That’s amazing! Think of it, growing there since the time of the Vikings! Not only age, but size makes these trees phenomenal. Cathedral Grove is a marvelous wonder to preserve for generations to come.
But should every old growth forest be preserved? What about areas which will never or very seldom be visited? Forest is a renewable resource. One of the purposes of annual inventory expeditions of the B.C. Forest Service was to ascertain whether logging various areas would allow for successful reforestation. I have counted over 400 rings in stunted four-inch diameter Black Spruce trees by the Alaska Highway — evidence that logging would only destroy a stunted crop with little chance of reforestation. There are some places where logging just doesn’t make any sense.
Coniferous trees like the Douglas fir are generally not mature until well after 100 years. Wide growth rings of young trees generally don’t make for great lumber. And yes, all trees do eventually die, even if one doesn’t log them. There is a balance in preservation of trees. Banning the logging of all old growth forests, regardless of where they are, is perhaps not well thought through — despite the numbers of signatories from other countries or from the astral world of music and acting.