I read with interest the June 15 letter by my friend Tony Greenfield, and I’m quite prepared to accept his comments about the wealth of biodiversity to be found in logged landscapes. The fact that mature forests are less diverse, however, does not make them less important or less worth preserving.
When it comes to logging Elphinstone and Wilson Creek, I believe that questions of land and resource use are as vital as those of biodiversity.
Elphi and Wilson Creek are “interface” zones; i.e., they exist in proximity to our rapidly growing urban and residential areas. Interface logging, which bears directly on our viewscapes and outdoor enjoyments, will always attract controversy.
The questions we need to ask here, I believe, are political, not biological.
Who will control land and resource use in sensitive interface areas? How much land should be protected? Will land and resource decisions in these forests take into account, in a fair way, the different groups that rely on and benefit from them?
The logging industry is only one group among many. Others include recreationists, tourism, water users, First Nations and various gatherers. The plants and animals themselves also use the forest. Who will represent them in this discussion?
Logging in the interface is ultimately an issue of fairness. Perhaps only the most rigorously selective harvesting should take place in areas close to our villages and towns. These forests may be needed in the years ahead, as human populations expand. Their intact beauty may help attract residents to our part of the world. They will give our grandchildren a wider range of choices when making land-use decisions of their own.
By logging interface zones now, we disenfranchise future generations and limit their opportunities. Sure, the trees grow back, but not for a long, long time.