Change of forest practice does not mean unemployment

We are in a different era from anything we’ve known before.

Change of forest practice does not mean unemployment

Re: Municipal forestry has big spinoffs in community

Yes, harvesting trees from the North Cowichan municipal forest has given our community a long-time measure of good. But it is dangerous to think that economic benefits of clear-cutting overrule environmental impact. We are in a different era from anything we’ve known before.

Today we experience floods, then recurring droughts. Low river flows; salmon cannot return to the river to spawn. Extreme wind storms, rain storms. No snowpack. Forest fires. Low air quality, increased health costs.

Though the current status-quo system of producing trees through mini-plantations has been deemed practical and profitable in the past, positive, well thought out adaptation to conditions around us is wise and central to survival. Despite how much something has benefited us in the past, it is dangerous to apply yesterday’s thinking to today’s extreme challenges.

Doing things differently from the past does not mean that we as a community will no longer benefit from decent-wage jobs, employed teachers, sawmills or retail jobs in a thriving community. Adapting to the reality of today and reshaping our forestry practices will present us with possibilities for the future, benefitting our community with healthier forests and our children with trades and livelihoods relative to a healthy forest and a healthy environment.

How would changing forest practices to include more mature forest benefit our community? A 2017 study by Toronto Dominion Economics and Nature Conservancy Canada determined that a lack of the “ecological services” of mature forests cost society from $5,800 to $46,000 per hectare of forest each year. Ecological services include “mitigation of floods and droughts, detoxification and decomposition of wastes, generation and renewal of soil and natural vegetation, pollination of crops and natural vegetation, control of the vast majority of potential agricultural pests, dispersal of seeds and translocation of nutrients, maintenance of biodiversity, protection from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays, partial stabilization of climate, moderation of temperature extremes and the force of winds and waves, support of diverse human culture, and providing aesthetic beauty and intellectual stimulation that lift the human spirit”.

Let’s rethink the purpose of our forest reserve. A change of practice does not mean unemployment. Let’s work toward reward of richness of ecological services in our Valley!

Miyo Stevens

Cowichan Valley

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