March 25, 2013

Save An Ancient Forest - Cut Your Consumption

I captured this photo on a recent hike in a protected forest near my home on Vancouver Island

Scientist figure that if all the trees died, people would die. You can't overestimate the value and importance of our global ancient forests, and yet we afford these magical places no respect at all.

80% of global ancient forests have already been destroyed. It is time we protected the rest. Everywhere. Now.

While working toward legislation to halt the logging of remaining old growth locally and globally, let us also consider how our individual consumption patterns affect forest depletion.

Through consumer demand we cause original forests to be levelled on our behalf. Whether we buy Brazilian beef raised on former primal tropical rain forest lands, or planks of thousand year old ancient cedars from the Pacific temperate rainforest for our back yard decks, we are connected to the continued carnage.

Clear cut industrial logging ruthlessly disrespects and destroys ecosystems that take hundreds of years to develop. In doing so, it also destroys the forest's capacity to provide important 'services' that we, and other living things, can not live without.

Things like clean, breathable air, and pure potable water.

Forest Facts
I adapted the following forest facts from the Jane Goodall Roots and Shoots Canada Forest Campaign website found here.
"Deforestation and forest degradation are serious issues that are negatively impacting life on earth."
  • Forests worldwide cover 33 million square kilometres – over a quarter of the Earth’s land surface. The three most forest-rich countries are Russia, Brazil, and Canada.
  • Net forest loss (the amount of forest we lose after considering new trees that grow) is estimated to be 20,000 hectares a day, or 7.3 million hectares per year. Tropical forests could disappear within a hundred years.
  • Seventy-six countries have lost all of their original forest cover, and 11 more have less than 5%. Globally, approximately 80% of ancient forests have already been destroyed.
  • There are several major causes of deforestation worldwide, which include logging, industrialization and urbanization, conversion of forests for agriculture and livestock production, and extractive industries (e.g. mining, oil and gas).
  • In Canada, per capita consumption of paper almost doubled from 1983-2003. In 2003, the average Canadian used 91.4 kg of paper per year.
  • Few countries have laws or measures to ensure that illegally harvested timber is not imported.
  • Consumption of wood is expected to continue rising over the next 20 years (as it has in the past), especially with the focus on renewable energy making fuel wood more appealing.
  • The average land required to produce beef is more than double the land required to produce pork and triple the amount for chicken.
  • Oil production has a significant impact on forests, especially in Canada where oil sands production has destroyed hundreds of square kilometres of boreal forest. Rain forests in the Amazon have been found to recover especially slowly in areas used for small-scale gold mining.
  • Deforestation has a huge impact on climate change and vice versa. 
  • Old-growth forests provide ecosystem services that may be far more important to society than their use as a source of raw materials. Services include breathable air, pure water, carbon storage, regeneration of nutrients, maintenance of soils, pest control by insectivorous bats and insects, micro- and macro-climate control, and the maintenance of genetic diversity.

Ban The Logging Of Old Growth Forests

Save an ancient forest. Contact your elected officials and tell them if countries like New Zealand, Thailand, Sir Lanka, Philippines and Finland have banned old growth logging, your country can, too.

Cut Your Consumption of Old Growth Forests

Save an ancient forest. Live a simple life and cut your consumption.
  • Cut paper use - go digital and ask, "Do I really need to print this out?" We gave our printer away, and now in the rare event of needing a print out, go to the library and conduct our business at 25 cents per copy. You will save money.
  • Treat things made of wood respectfully - they still retain the essential spirit of the tree they came from. Items respected will last longer and replacement will be delayed.
  • Refuse, repurpose, reduce, recycle
  • Ask questions about the source of lumber products, and do not buy anything sourced from old growth forests (unless harvested in a small scale, community-based, sustainable logging industry)
  • Do not use single use paper products
  • Do not patronize fast food outlets with over-packaged, take-out food
  • Say no to excessive packaging by leaving it at the customer service desk when you buy stuff... if you buy stuff. Tell them why you are doing it, and make your purchase conditional on them receiving the unwanted, forest-depleting wrappings.
  • Arrange to be taken off junk mail lists
  • Say no to paper (and plastic) bags at the grocery store, and bring your own reusables.
  • When building, before buying new check places that reuse materials, such as Habitat for Humanity Int'l ReStore resale outlets.

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