Regional district directors need to brush up on their science


I would like to suggest that directors of the Strathcona Regional District board who voted in favour of a letter to Premier Horgan decrying ecosystem forest management, should go back to school.

Science, economics, and maths are all missing from their emotional arguments. Their letter states, “A healthy environment and robust programs require a vibrant economy. You cannot have one without the other.”

Obviously this is false. A “healthy” environment has existed on the earth for billions of years, but a “vibrant economy” can only exist in an environment that is healthy for humans. Science backed up by lived experience is telling us that we are destroying an environment healthy for humans. Do these directors not read, or even look out the window?

In support of the letter, director Gerald Whalley states, “In the Campbell River area, we have lots of stands of …old growth management areas. Much of that old growth there is only 60 years of age. Old growth is totally replaceable. All of these new standards that we plant very quickly become old growth…” (Cortes Currents, Dec 14).

The ignorance of empirical observation and science is staggering. Old-growth forest ecosystems have taken thousands of years to evolve; they house vast biodiversity, including genetic diversity, with new species and relationships revealed constantly.

As we destroy these ecosystems by clearcutting, released carbon exacerbates climate change. Climate change is stressing our forests, killing them by drought, fire, flood and disease. It is a vicious circle. As the environment changes, the variety of tree species which can survive also changes.

Yellow cedar for example, depends on snow to insulate its roots from winter cold, yet climate change is leading to depleted snowpacks. Yellow cedar may well not grow back in many areas that it grows at present. Western red cedar is dying on Vancouver Island due to drought; Douglas fir is dying from an increase in climate related fungal disease; dead trees fuel forest fires, and round it goes.

Meanwhile, scientists are busy collecting genetic material from the remaining biodiverse forests across a whole range of microclimates, hoping to seed future forests with a range of genes more suitable to the changing conditions. But as the climate is changing quickly and trees grow slowly, science and trees will have trouble keeping up with the pace of change.

Directors who do not understand the concept of ecosystem management should go back to school; or mother nature, who is a mean mother, will treat them and all of us, to the school of hard knocks.

Amanda Vaughan,

Black Creek

Campbell Riverforestry

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