Endangered forests

There are a lot of them; it’s probably not unreasonable to call most, if not all, forests on the planet endangered, because climate change. However, it seems that old growth forests are the most endangered, since so many of them have been logged away to a small percentage of their original extents.

I saw a post shared on Facebook this week that in Oregon, “Douglas County clearcut the Dave Busenbark County Park,” which contained trees that were 500 years old, a forest that many of the local people quite loved. Apparently the county sold the acreage to a lumber company, so they can build campgrounds, to bring in more income (beyond the trifle they got for the sale of what is literally irreplaceable) to the county. I’m sure they will be lovely campgrounds, built on barren ground. (Link, may not be visible unless you are logged in.)

And another downer of a news article, also via my *cough* cheerful Facebook feed, about a larger area of old growth on Vancouver Island, owned by a timber company, which is currently threatened: Island Timberlands to log contentious old-growth forests on Vancouver Island:

Island Timberlands is moving to log some of their most contentious old-growth forest lands near Port Alberni, including “Juniper Ridge”, a formerly protected Ungulate Winter Range, and Labour Day Lake, the headwaters of Cathedral Grove’s Cameron River.

Juniper Ridge is an increasingly rare tract of old-growth forest filled with endangered old-growth Douglas-fir trees, sensitive ecosystems of brittle reindeer lichens growing on open rocky outcrops, and an abundance of juniper shrubs. . .

“The old-growth forest and lichen-covered rocky outcrops on Juniper Ridge are endangered and sensitive ecosystems largely growing on extremely thin soils. It would take many centuries for the old-growth forest to fully recover here after logging. Unfortunately, with the trend of harvesting smaller sized trees with shorter logging rotations, these old growth Douglas- fir ecosystems will never have the chance to return,” Watershed-Forest Alliance coordinator Jane Morden said in a news release.

“This forest is heavily used by wintering deer, and was intended to be preserved for this purpose.  This area is also a popular recreation destination for locals and tourists going hiking, fishing and boating.”

Bolding added. It takes many decades, centuries even, for forests to return to a true “old growth” state in many places (different ecologies have different maturation rates). Trees may be a renewable resource, but mature forests are only renewable on time-scales that are pretty long compared to human lifespans . . . and there’s far more urge, generally, to cut down the trees for a short-term profit, trashing everything else in the forest in the process, than to expand the size of areas protected from logging. I suppose it’s different when it’s “our” jobs and “our” (destructive, colonial, unquestioned) traditions/history.

My cynical, bitter, misanthropic side wonders how many people who think logging old growth because jobs! Local economy! OUR TRADITION this is what made this area what it is, logging is our history and always should be! are appalled at the slaughter of now rare big animals, like rhinos or elephants, even when the people doing that killing are doing it because they can get a good income from it.

Do a web search for “Wild Olympics” and see what the screaming is like when there’s a suggestion to expand protections for incredible, rare forest ecosystems. Or any other suggestion that more places (forests or not) might be granted designation as wilderness or national monuments.

Trees can and are grown in large monocultures, just like any other industrialized crop. Killing mature forests isn’t necessary, and the less of it that is done, the less very slow, painstaking restoration work will be needed when enough of the culture-at-large pulls its head out of its collective profit-focused ass and realizes what has been lost ought to maybe be encouraged to come back.

Restoration work is being done in some places. In Ireland, for example, people are working to bring back forests, some via work done with the Archangel Foundation (by making clones of really old Irish trees) and others by starting with seed: Jurassic bark: ancient Irish trees brought back to life

In their bid to revive aboriginal trees, St Ledger and Cook gather seeds from the final vestiges of virgin Irish forest. “We prefer seeds to grafting,” says St Ledger. “Myself and Ted have grown trees from acorns from the Brian Boru, but older trees don’t always produce viable seed.”

Scattered in tiny pockets around the country are the remnants of the post- glacial wild wood that covered much of Ireland for 9,000 years.

Due to repeated clear-felling following the Norman invasions, this unique resource now covers just 0.02 per cent of the country.

. . .

With the UN’s IPCC advocating, in its fifth report, tree-planting to counter the ravages of climate change in Ireland and elsewhere, the Woodland League wants a long-term forest plan, not more logging.

“The actual percentage of native trees in Ireland is quite low, it’s around 1 per cent,” says St Ledger. “The authentic landscape of Ireland is western Atlantic temperate rainforest, dominated by oak. Most Coillte plantations are tree farms. Our hills are covered with exotic conifers that basically acidify the soil, don’t provide much of a haven for wildlife, and deny Irish people their cultural heritage.

“The Government have done little. They restored 13 native woodland sites that were on their property, through EU funding. Bravo. But we would say there’s no long-term management plan to secure them.”

(The Brian Boru referred to above is an ancient oak named so because it is believed to have been planted by its namesake a thousand years ago.)

We need more of that kind of work, and less of what’s described in the first two links.

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About Fjothr Lokakvan

More or less Northern Tradition polytheist.
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2 Responses to Endangered forests

  1. The original ecosystem in my area, the Shortleaf Pine Savannah, is gone due to logging. Once cut down, the native Shortleaf Pine was replaced by the non-native Loblolly Pine because it grows faster and thus is “more profitable.” The local wildlife refuge is trying to rebuild the Shortleaf Pine Savannah, which will take a loooooong time. Right now they’re working on removing the Loblollies from the park so the scarce few Shortleafs can grow back.

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