Wednesday, October 6, 2010

An Environmentalist's Defense of Clearcut Logging

Steven E. Kallick
An environmentalist who helped broker the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement recently said that clearcut logging is “an appropriate silvaculture method” in the boreal forest.

“Frankly, in the boreal forest, selective harvest is impractical because of the nature of the trees. You don’t have the big kind of coastal old growth forest,” Steven E. Kallick, director of the International Boreal Conservation Campaign for the Pew Charitable Trusts, told Yale Environment 360.

“What you have is extensive forest of smaller trees. And in order to be profitable, you need to be able to go in there and take out a significant part of the volume. And ecologically it’s not like clearcutting in a coastal forest. It doesn’t have the same impact because the boreal forest is a vast, fire-dominated ecosystem where large-scale disturbance is not uncommon.”

The logging companies that signed the agreement have agreed to “meet or beat the Forest Stewardship Council standards,” which Kallick calls “the green seal of approval for logging.”

“The reason the Forest Stewardship Council does not prohibit clearcutting in the boreal forest is because it’s not ecologically required.”

“This is industrial forestry, with improved practices. If it was by itself the only standard being applied, we would not be satisfied. But, combined with the removal of very large tracts of forest from timber harvest and ultimately, we hope, permanent protection of those areas, then we feel comfortable with the Forest Stewardship Council standard being applied in those other areas.”

Canada’s boreal (subarctic) forest – along with undisturbed portions of the Amazon and Russia’s Taiga – is “one of the three great tracts of forest on the globe,” Kallick says. Pew decided to focus on the Canadian boreal, he told The Seattle Times, because, of the three, “it's the only one in a country with a tradition of conservation, so the most likely to be protected on a scale to preserve the ecosystem and yet allow people to benefit from the natural resources.”

Kallick told The Times he got interested in environmental work when a newspaper for which he wrote refused to publish his story about a hazardous waste dump.

“I thought, ‘I'm in the wrong business. I'm going to law school and figure out how to bust people like this.’”

Related articles:

1 comment:

M. D. Vaden of Oregon said...

Wonder how much difference there is between a large scale fire where much of the ash and wood remains on the forest, and clear-cutting which removes all the elements in the trunks received from the soil.

Apparently 95% or so of a tree is from water and atmosphere, but would removal of the other 5% be significant over a century or two?

MDV / Oregon