Old growth forests are more than lumber

Clear cuts harm Port Renfrew tourist economy

Trees have a value even when they are not cut down.

To put it in perspective, some of the trees that will be felled when the B.C. government moves to consign more of our old growth forest to the chainsaws of lumber companies are very old.

Some of the trees were alive when Lief Erikson set sail for North America and while the Vikings were threatening to make England a Danish state.

But that connection to the past is only one of the reasons that communities like Port Renfrew have moved to embrace those forests. They’ve also seen the forests as the foundation of a thriving tourist industry.

Communities like Port Renfrew know that, while the logging industry has an immediate impact on a local economy, that value is transient, at best.

Instead, while the trees stand, people from around the world will come to places like Port Renfrew to walk the forest paths and allow their souls to rise above the shortsighted rapacity of the rest of the modern world.

Those visitors are the foundation of a new economic driver that puts a lie to the traditional business tenet that a tree has no value until it is cut down and that its value grows the more it is broken down to smaller components.

Port Renfrew has worked hard to re-brand itself as a haven for the natural world and, frankly, it’s a good look for the community.

Tourism has the potential to transform other communities as well. It can imbue them with a sense that they are part of the solution to the environmental destruction that plagues our planet.

Admittedly, it may be naive to think that we can protect all of our old-growth forests.

Those ancient cathedrals of nature are a valuable commodity, after all, and the lumber industry does employ thousands.

Still, the latest plan to consign 109 hectares of ancient forest to the axe is particularly egregious.

The clear-cutting of those trees will occur within 40 meters of the Juan de Fuca Provincial Park boundary and the sound of that destruction will be heard by the same tourists who arrived in our province to marvel at our ancient giants.

And there’s an obvious irony that the short-sighted decision to destroy more of our natural world is being driven by a provincial government that only holds power through the support of the Green Party.

It’s time to go beyond immediate profits and give a thought to the future.

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