Irv Banman, steward of the Cowichan Garry Oak Preserve.
Cowichan News Leader Pictorial - Opinion, October 18, 2010
Our old growth forests are of vital importance to bio-diversity and the well-being of all citizens.
They are not replaceable, logging them is not sustainable and they play an important role in carbon sequestration.
They are found nowhere else on earth and are subject to intense logging pressures dictated by world markets.
In an Oct. 6 News Leader Pictorial article we are informed that within North Cowichan, old growth accounts for less than one per cent of the 12,000-acre municipal forest. Anyone living within the Cowichan Valley would be hard-pressed to find a patch of old growth near where they live and likely have never seen an old growth forest of any size in the valley.
Rick Jeffery, president of Coast Forest Products Association, asserts there is plenty of old-growth left for harvesting, even within Cowichan.
It is well-known that on the south-east rain shadow coast of Vancouver Island the percentage of old growth left is roughly the same as what is left in North Cowichan, less than one per cent. Certainly this fraction cannot be what Mr. Jeffrey is referring to when he talks about plenty of old growth left for harvesting. Even if there were enough old growth somewhere to log for another 50 years, does it make sense to continue cutting until we are left with next to nothing?
A few jobs for today and profitable company margins, but something will be lost that can never be replaced within our lifetimes.
With continued logging however, even these shrunken forests will dwindle down to minuscule little patches or individual trees which will not serve to sustain the specially adapted species that live there. Exporting logs is the quickest and easiest way to turn trees into cash. Many are familiar with the closure of the mill at Youbou that left hundreds unemployed, while old growth and second growth logs continued to flow past unprocessed for export to foreign markets.
The monetary values of old growth forests are tremendous. Besides absorbing carbon, they provide the irreplaceable services of water and air quality purification and stabilization.
Visitors from around the world travel to B.C. to experience the exceptional forest, lake, mountain and ocean surroundings. Old growth B.C. coastal forests are world heritage sites even if not formally recognized as such.
Higher species diversity also means greater stability and old forests may be more resistant to disease.
We have the privilege and responsibility to steward these forests to ensure that they do not disappear. Thankfully there are groups that are working together to bring attention to the need to stop old growth logging on the B.C. coast.
Environmental organizations, unions, forestry workers, and First Nations have all voiced concern over the cutting of old growth trees, let’s give them our support.