Message From Rook
July 24, 2018 This week, trucks have started hauling logs out from the mountainside below me. Eleven loads so far, each containing large diameter logs - Some as big as the tree I live in.
Now that they've become stumps, logs, and slash piles, anyone can count the rings. Age is the only characteristic left to judge.
This is thrown at me often; "These aren't real old growth trees, they're not old enough". "There are stumps here, this forest is not unentered", Ideas from people in offices, making policies to enrich themselves.
If a 220 year old Douglas fir, and a 120 year old one share the same characteristics, offer the same habitat, and are of similar size, then shouldn't both be protected? At what point do the ecosystem services of a forest become more valuable then the boardfeet harvested from it, and how relevant a qualifier is age alone?
Do narrow strips of old stumps reduce the ecological integrity of neighboring forest? The lack of large trees does, but not in a way that means the neighboring forest shouldn't gain protection from logging. Humboldt Redwood Company would have us believe that due to historic logging in some locations, adjacent forested slopes that have never been logged are unworthy of conservation status and should feed their mills.
The logs they are hauling out are the elder generation of this forested slope. They were wide and tall, with body-thick branches, spreading crowns, populated by owls, hawks and eagles, tiny tree voles, rare agarikon fungus. They are host to such gardens of moss and lichen that from a distance their branches appear more bluegreen then brown. They are the hub trees of the forest community, interconnected by mycorrhizae, carefully regulating the growth and water consumption of the younger generations. They both capture and produce fog, and bring water up from deep in the rocky soil. They hold the steep, streamcut ravines together, resisting fire, drought, earthquakes, downpours, landslides.
What I've described is an ecosystem which HRC, certified sustainable by FSC, considers completely fine to convert into a Douglas fir monocrop where successive generations of trees will never reach maturity. When questioned, they'll proudly point to their policy, which states a tree may be protected if it displays significant old growth characteristics - but only if it is also older then 219 years, established prior to the year 1800. If six such trees are present per acre, in a stand no smaller then three acres, then that stand will not be logged - for now.
This is absolutely not enough. These forests deserve reverence and protection in their own right - but we also need them for our future. Our most promising carbon capture technology isn't a machine, it's a forest. It's absurd, insulting, that at this critical stage, rich men in offices are weakening protections, reducing public involvement, and changing policies to allow more logging with less oversight.