What Better Day Could There be to Start Real Forestry Conservation Than Today, B.C. Day.

Today is B.C. Day hereabouts. The Southwest coastal rain-forest of British Columbia [B.C.] is a magic place to live [been here over 40 years myself] and the home of many lovers of the biosphere including David Shipway, a Cortes Island resident and small woodlot manager. Recently an old friend and long time forest industry worker sent me an article David wrote about forestry conservation titled 'Quality Always Takes Time'. It's beyond great...it's perhaps the best essay i've ever read.

In it David lovingly explains the Basic biology of wood - "Cells are created on an annual cycle by the living protoplasm of the cambium layer surrounding a tree, which divides to form both bark and wood. Sapwood consists of active woody cells that are still forming their cellulosic walls, and conducting sugars, nutrients and water for the whole tree. Heartwood is formed when the the prosenchyma (fluid conducting) cells cease conducting sap, and the parenchyma (food storage) cells die. The residual resins and terpenes become crystallized, and the wood, usually darker in colour, serves primarily as stable core structure for the tree to continue growing bigger."

Then goes on to explain how and why this matters from an economic, ecological, environmental point of view. But more importantly he explains how the short-term capitalist approach to our forests, and almost everything else in our consumer culture, reduces the quality of our lives as well as the world we live in.

As David says, "That means that the science and stewardship of forest carbon must become primary. We must culturally incorporate and celebrate the "slow wood" patience of growing more durable mature heartwood. If we are lucky our great grandchildren will still be able to make inheritable high-quality wooden artifacts. This is a tall order in an age still caught up in ponzi economics, but it's becoming increasingly apparent that ignoring it may make our whole civilization obsolete in much less time than it takes for a Douglas Fir tree to grow to middle age."

The old friend who sent me this gem is named Bill, Bill the Boomman. Bill has worked for 4 decades in a log sorting operation in Howe Sound. During that time he has seen, as we all have, the change in the age and quality of the logs being harvested by B.C.'s forest industry. Bill says,"This old boomman - me - thinks that the present second growth timber harvesting is a rip off of future generations: immature, regrowing forests with poor timber quality harvested way too soon for the benefit of a very few today. Loss of timber opportunity in the future; loss or at least severe diminishment of nature's services - water and carbon esp. Poor forestry that shouldn't be allowed except that local and provincial economies had become dependent on timber volumes and timber revenues that could only be met through re-cutting these forests way too early." [i totally agree - ed.]

During the over 30 years i enjoyed working as a carpenter and builder/renovator of custom homes, large and small, i too learned that the quality of the wood in my hands was the most important factor in the long-term quality of the home i was building and how that home would stand up to the slings and arrows of time. Quarter-sawn heartwood stays put. It's dimensionally stable, it doesn't cup and check. As time marched on through the decades i watched as the quality of the lumber in my hands deteriorated.

My own house, and many others i worked on, featured re-finished wooden paned windows as often as possible. These beautiful windows were often being thrown out by city developers who thought they were to 'old' to be of any value and certainly to 'old' to be used in the plastic condo complex that the beautiful home they were tearing down was to replace. We'd often scoop up a truck load of them at All-Around Demolition in Burnaby and use them in our projects. The trees these 'old' windows were built out of was, clear, tight grained first growth, 500+ year old Douglas Fir and often had been in the house nearly 100 years before i got hold of them. They are still perfect, straight, tightly joined all those years later. We'd scrap off the old paint, redo some of the putty, maybe replace a pane or two. Then prime them and paint them again before installing them in their new casements. There they'll be next century waiting for the next generation of tradesman to come along and gussy them up a bit. That's the quality David Shipway is explaining in his article.

As i said at the top, today is B.C. Day hereabouts, B.C.'s forests sustained the First Nations here for thousands of years before the Europeans arrived. They still could be sustaining quality jobs, sequestering greenhouse gasses, and providing for quality lives if instead of ignorantly pursuing short-term shareholder profits we began today to practice real conservation of real forests instead of the impudent lies of banker driven tree farm bullshit.

What better day could there be to start than today, B.C. Day.