I woke up this morning with an unusual sense of optimism. I’m not sure why – after all we are in the midst of multiple crises. Maybe it was a faintly remembered dream last night that had a government or two about to do the right things on climate, biodiversity, covid, poverty, opioid addiction, homelessness, etc. (ha- fat chance!), or maybe it was the dawn of a near-spring sunny day, or maybe it was the news that Jason Kinney is (at least partially) backing down on using coal as the new gold standard and mining the crap out of the East-slope Rockies next door. It was probably unwarranted, but it got me thinking. We, in this part of the world, are almost uniquely situated to ride out this turbulent time. We are also in a position to contribute to some solutions, in a major way, in particular to the climate and biodiversity crises.
A relatively new term being thrown around in environmental circles is “nature-based solutions:” using nature’s abilities to help heal ecosystems and help solve problems we are facing, as well as to help heal individuals physical and mental wounds (shinrin-yoku, the Japanese concept of “forest bathing”—immersing oneself in a deep forest environment and inhaling the natural aerosols produced by the various trees). In this valley, we don’t have full control of our natural assets,but we certainly have a lot of influence about how they are used. I think the politicians actually listen when we speak loudly and clearly enough, when we are in agreement and speak with consensus.
Maintaining our “Super Natural BC” in natural conditions has huge positive consequences for both biodiversity and climate stability, not to mention tourism. The old forests that we live amongst have a great amount of carbon tied up in live wood, dead wood and the forest floor. When a clear-cut is created, nearly all that carbon is released into the atmosphere within a short amount of time. Much of the “waste” is either burned on the block or pelletized and sent abroad to “reduce” carbon emissions there (it doesn’t). The newly exposed forest floor heats up and rapidly decomposes, releasing its carbon to the air. The milled products have a short life expectancy as well, seldom more than a century (Stradivarius violins excepted), far less than the old growth source.
Left in place, that forest will not only hold that carbon to the ground, but it will continue to extract more CO2 from the air (far more than a newly planted plantation for decades, even centuries), and provide superior habitat to a myriad of animals, plants, fungi, and people. We need to leave most of our remaining old growth forest intact. Our large undeveloped, unprotected watersheds are few: Raush, upper Goat and Walker stand out as the largest and best, and they should be protected from development.
Fraser Headwaters Alliance