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Do not confuse the forest for the trees
Clearcuts appear ugly because they are ruined ecosystems. Forests are not just trees, but the ecosystems of diverse species, structures, complex habitats, inter-species interactions, micro-climate, water collection, purification and storage, genetic banking, carbon capture and more. Intact forests impart a sense of connection and continuity of nature to humans that is both ancient and spiritual.
The Oregon Forest Resource Institute speaks for the industrial deforestation corporations, which view forests as commodities to be converted to profit (jobs are a byproduct of this conversion which industry strives to minimize for more profit). The OFRI’s shallow and outdated list of “pros and cons of clearcutting” is nonsense.
Clearcutting is deforestation. Habitats that organisms need to survive are not displaced. They are eliminated. Stream flows are not “increased”, they are accelerated and degraded by sediment, pesticide residue and higher temperatures. Replanting of previously forested land does not restore the ecological conditions decimated by clearcutting. It does create vast areas of hazardous fuel conditions that persist and worsen for decades, without providing crucial habitat for endangered forest species. The type of “habitat” that is left is minimal and the species it supports are common, not lacking for habitat. Even these organisms are likely to suffer from the industrial application of pesticides and conversion of the landscape to an overstocked mono-crop tree farm.
Diverse forests provide structure, food, shade, moisture, organic matter and habitat for innumerable organisms. These features support networks of soil organisms, animal, bacterial, fungal, which feed back to the forest and the trees. Clearcutting devastates forest soils, degrades and destroys these dynamic relationships within adjacent uncut forests. The soil is deprived of nourishment and protection, is left exposed to drying wind, baking sun, erosive rains, and extreme temperature swings, all of which reduce ecological function and forest productivity.
The practice of clearcutting has not “changed dramatically, as can be seen by looking around at our surrounding hills. It is still devastating forest ecosystems, driving extinction and climate change, polluting our air and water, and is still ugly. The small revisions to industrial clearcutting , of leaving a couple of trees per acre and minimal riparian buffers, fought tooth and nail by the timber industry, don’t sustain ecosystems.
Clearcuttimg is tree mining, and creates a “boom and bust” economic cyde. This is why we no longer have local saw mills, and those quality jobs. Also it maximizes mechanization and reduces skilled labor, often using workers from out of the area. Profits reaped by converting local forests into clearcuts often go to Wall Street or other corporate headquarters, further impoverishing communities if the multiplier effect of local dollars.
Polio is back
New York State has confirmed cases and it is present in tests of the public sewage system. This devastating disease can be carried by people who are symptom free. It causes paralysis and is non-treatable and irreversible. However, Polio is completely preventable with immunizations.
I wonder what the parent of a paralyzed replies when they’re asked, “Mommy, why didn’t I get the safe yet effective vaccine? The Polio vaccine which would have kept me from becoming paralyzed?” Please be careful what lies you believe when you search for the truth!
Chris Matthews, RN.