Logging pace, worldwide and on Island, is not sustainable

I recently sat in with a group of retired professionals discussing how our forests across the globe maintain balanced CO2 and oxygen levels

I recently sat in with a group of retired professionals who were discussing how our forests across the globe maintain balanced CO2 and oxygen levels in our atmosphere, as well as keep the forest floor cool in the hot summer months, and prevent flooding and erosion in the rainy months.

The proof that clear-cutting forested land for industry and subdivision expansion is not sustainable is evident right here in the greater Cowichan Valley region.

I counted over 10 logging trucks running through Duncan every hour during the weekday working schedule. It works out to one football field of deforestation every hour, and that is just here in the Valley. I imagine there are at least 30 other communities in B.C. where clearcutting for suburban housing and for industrial processing is taking place. That works out to a football field of land cleared every two minutes during weekday schedules.

Suburban growth can be witnessed with Vancouver expanding past Abbotsford. Locally, Shawnigan Lake is creating new ‘communities’; cleared lots for sale on the way to Cowichan Lake and in the area of Yellow Point are other obvious examples. People are moving out of the expensive cities and settling here on the Island, however instead of building up and planning for future population growth, we are expanding outwards into our valued treed areas. This is not sustainable growth.

The tree ‘crops’ that are being brought for milling and export have shrunk in size over the years because the tree harvest is occurring faster than the re-planted crops can grow.

Add this to a global situation of deforestation for ‘economic’ growth and we have a disaster happening before our eyes. I watched a documentary on gold mining in Argentina and just happened to hear that one football field of forest is cut every 15 seconds. It doesn’t take much to conclude that in Malaysia, Russia, United States, Africa, and various other South American countries the same kind of deforestation due to the lumber industry and suburban expansion is going on. I figure there is more than one football field of precious forested land cleared every half second globally.

I invite readers to consider a future of hotter weather, reduced river levels in summer months and increased water restrictions, increased forest fires, and increased flash-flooding in rainy seasons causing erosion. In my understanding, keeping the existing forests alive and well, as a protection for sustainable life for our children and grandchildren, is more important than the short term financial gains we are experiencing in today’s world. The solutions require innovative new technology (utilizing quick growth aspen and hemp for construction materials might be a start) and a big shift in the way we see a ‘sustainable’ future.


Bill Woollam