Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Clearingcutting Trees Is

Not Deforestation

My grandfather, Albert Moore, clearcut large areas of coastal rainforest on northern Vancouver Island in the 1930's and 1940's. He didn't know the word ecology, and the word biodiversity would not be invented for another 50 years. And you can be sure they weren't talking about the environment at the breakfast table on a dark, cold winter morning before they went out and worked hard six or seven days a week, to get the big timber down to the sea, sometimes taking half the soil with it due to the primitive logging methods of the day.

Today these areas are covered in hush new forest in which bears, wolves, cougars, deers, owls, eagles, ravens, and hawks have found a home again. These species have dispersed back to the site as the environment became suitable for them again.

We have all been taught since we were children that you should not judge a book or present cyberspace term "blog", by its cover, in other words that beauty is only skin deep. yet we are still easily tricked into thinking that if we like what we see with our eyes, it must be good, and if we don't like what we see with our eyes, it must be bad. We tend to link our visual impression of what is beautiful and what is ugly with our moral judgment of what is right and wrong.

The Sierra Club says, " You don't need a professional forester to tell if a forest is mismanaged -- if a forest appears to be mismanaged, it is mismanaged." They want you to believe that the ugly appearance of a recently harvested forest is synonymous with permanent destruction of the environment. And yet, the unsightly sea of stumps is not nuclear waste or a toxic discharge, it is 100 percent organic, and will soon grow back to a beautiful new forest again. All the same, the fact that recently harvested areas of forest appear ugly to our eyes makes for very effective images in the hands of anti forestry activists.

A rural scene of farmlands and pasture looks pleasant to the eye and is neat and tidy compared to the jumble of woody debris in a clearcut. Yet it is the farm and pasture land that truly represents deforestation. It has been cleared of forest long ago and the forest has been permanently replaced by food crops and fodder. Mere important, if we stopped plowing the farmland for just 5 years in a row, seeds from the surrounding trees would blow in and the whole area would be blanketed in new tree seedlings. Within 80 years you would never know there had been a farm there. The entire area would be reforested again, just as leaving it alone. That's because
deforestation is not an event, that just happens and then is over forever.

Deforestation is actually an ongoing process of continuous human interference, preventing the forest from growing back, which it would if it was simply left alone. The most common form of interference with forest renewal is what we call agriculture. That's why deforestation is seldom caused by forestry, the whole intention of which is to cause re forestation.

Deforestation is nearly always caused by friendly farmers growing our food, and by nice carpenters building our houses, towns, and cities.
Deforestation is not an evil plot, it is something we do on purpose in order to feed and house the 6 billion plus and growing human population.

The scene of cattle grazing in a lush green pasture is pleasant to the eye. Yet it wasn't that many years ago when fast food chain McDonald's restaurants, bowing to heavy public pressure due to concern about deforestation in Central and South America to grow cows for hamburger, promised they would never buy another tropical cow. It was apparently fine, however, to continue buying cows grown in North America. Is this because we , Americans have a higher standard for deforestation in North America than they do in Latin America? No, it is a complete double standard.

Deforestation is deforestation regardless of where it is practised. The forest is completely removed and replaced with a monoculture pasture on which exotic animals that were not present in the original forest graze.

If you go to Australia, you'll find that most people think the worst deforestation is occurring in Malaysia and Indonesia, when in fact about 40 percent of Australia's native forest has been destroyed for agriculture. The same is true in the Unites States; about 40 percent of the original forests have been converted to farming. And the western animal-factory farming industry players are using political means and avian bird flu scam, so called, to wipe out other natural free roaming animal farming, 'forcing' others to buy and adopt only their unnatural modern-animal farming. We always like to think that the bad people are long way away and speak another language. We often fail to realize that we are doing exactly the same things we accuse them of doing. A kettle telling the pot is black?

And if you don't eat meat, you must eat vegetables in which case you will cause the creation of monoculture cabbage plantations and other such food crops where there once were forests. Now it's true cabbages are prettier than stumps, unfortunately true for the public's understanding of deforestation. Birds and insects are not welcome in areas of monoculture crops. If they wish to avoid being shot or poisoned, these animals had best retreat into a forest nearby where they are more likely to be left alone.

Solutions For Deforestation.
Don't get me wrong. Make no mistake please. I am not against farming. We all have to eat. But it is interesting to note that the three(3) things we can do to prevent further loss of the world's forest have nothing to do with forest.

These three things are:
1.Population management. The more people there are in this world the more mouths there are to feed and the more forest we must clear to feed them. This is a simple fact of arithmetic.

2.Intensive agriculture production. Over the last 50 years, that is since 1950, in North America we have learned to grow five(5) times as much food on the same area of land, due to advances in genetics, technology, and pest control. If we had not made these advances we would either have to clear away five times as much forest, which is not available anyway, or more likely we simply could not grow as much food. Again, it is a matter of arithmetic. The more food we can grow on a given piece of land, the less forest will be lost to grow it.

3.Urban densification.
There is actually only one significant cause of continuing forest loss in the United States; 200 cities sprawling out over the landscape and permanently converting forest and farm to pavement. If we would design our cities for a higher density, more livable environment, we would not only save forests, we would also use less energy and materials.

In short, forestry is good for the environment.

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