Biodiversity is complex


Rick O’Neill and Gayle Neilson have both disparaged in your recent editions comments I made about biodiversity and logging on the Sunshine Coast.

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Biodiversity is a complex topic but both my critics offer the simplistic critique of armchair naturalists that continuous, closed canopy coniferous forest is good and any logging of same is bad. Anyone who has ever walked in a three-year-old regenerating clearcut on the Sunshine Coast must be stunned by the burgeoning biodiversity therein with its wide range of flora including coniferous and hardwood seedlings, berry-bearing shrubs, wildflowers, large and small mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, and insects including butterflies, moths and dragonflies. Most of these species thrive only in open, sunny locations and abhor the dark, cool environment of the closed canopy forest. 

Ms. Neilson quotes the example of the marbled murrelet, a species completely dependent on old growth forest habitat in B.C. True enough! However, what does she propose for the future of the common nighthawk, an equally threatened species that is seen in declining numbers on summer evenings over the Sunshine Coast? It is likely that 100 per cent of common nighthawk nesting on the Sunshine Coast is in logged areas as the species has no interest in closed forest. As the marbled murrelet is dependent on old growth forest, so are other species dependent upon forest openings.

My advocacy, for those who care to read it carefully, is not in favour of logging but in favour of biodiversity. The best way to preserve the entire biodiversity of the Sunshine Coast is in a diversity of habitats and a range of forest age classes from clearcut to old growth. In this way both the marbled murrelet and the common nighthawk may flourish even as global biodiversity is threatened by our modern world.

I frequently offer to take “a walk in the woods” with critics, but no one has yet taken me up on this. I guess it’s hard to see a sacred cow evaporate! To Rick O’Neill and Gayle Neilson, I would sincerely like to walk in the woods with you.

Tony Greenfield, Halfmoon Bay

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