B.C.’s forest management practices operate at a deficit

Re: BC Timber Sales and city throw forestry jobs under the mountain bike tire (C.R. Mirror, June 10 and online)

A tree not cut today is a tree that could be cut tomorrow.

Our forest management practises in B.C. and most other areas of North America, have operated at a deficit. We have cut more down each year than has grown back. Another essay in the edition of this paper the letter referred to above appears describes our remaining old-growth timber as a sliver of what it was a century ago. Sustained yield means cutting today what will grow today.

Sustained yield logging of old-growth means that we would never run out of old-growth trees to log. The problem with sustained yield of old-growth trees is that it takes hundreds of years to grow an old-growth tree and our lives are only tens of years long.

Our regulators work on even shorter time scales, one election to the next and our electorate (ourselves) have been happy with regulating our forests on the election time scale, which means regulating our forests at a deficit.

Snowden bike trails are a haven for mountain bikers and regular foot-propelled walkers. Part of the reason they are a haven is that, as far as can be seen, they are trees of various sizes and species, except for a few blights of clearcut logging. Our management mentality operates under the $$$ sign. The $$$ value of a single tree can be determined accurately. The recreational value of a single tree is almost nil. It takes an intact forest to have recreational value.

Bikers and hikers are spread over the whole Island, mostly within what can be round trip travelled in one day. Loggers are much more localised. Money spent by bikers and hikers is spread thinly, money spent by loggers is lumped closer to the Snowden Forest.

I would have more sympathy with logging in the Snowden area if the logging was done on a smaller scale. Logging can be done selectively. Europe has been forced to log selectively because, years ago, they were left with fields of stumps and saplings. Logging can be done selectively with small machines and small trucks without leaving open fields of stumps.

The first logging pass in the Snowden area did use railways and steam donkeys. Those trains were tiny by today’s machinery standards and they did not cut every tree. Selective logging won’t make anyone rich. It could provide a family with a lifetime of income.

Steve Cooley

forestryMountain biking