The Forestry Industry – Can’t see the forest for the trees

The media has recently taken an interest in promoting the Environmental groups side of the long-standing argument about whether forestry is bad or good.

Twenty years ago, my grandfather put ads in the paper promoting the cycle of a forest. How trees grow to be mature and then are harvested before they die to create the many wood products society desires. The forest then regenerates on its own or is helped along through planting and thinning and over the years a beautiful stand of trees grows again. This cycle mimics fire or insect infestation, which happen naturally, and is why forestry is renewable.

Our industry is providing you, the consumer, with the various wood products you need. Again, and again and again. Professional forest technicians and foresters plan and manage the supply so we can make the products you, the consumer desire and in some cases need. This argument about whether what we do is sustainable or not has been talked about for as long as we’ve been doing it. We own thousands of acres of land where we practice forest management and many areas have been harvested by us twice over. Many of these areas are also used by fisherman, hunters, hikers, geocachers and even a road rally race group. Now please don’t get it twisted and state we cut every last tree because we don’t. Actually, many areas are not harvested at all because we know there is a balance to keep, and biodiversity is in everyone’s best interest.

We love our province. We love what we do. We love the forest. We love to watch it grow. We love the products it provides you with. Globally, we are moving towards wood products being a sustainable, biodegradable resource replacing plastic, steel, and concrete – all of which create harmful carbon emissions when manufactured. Building with wood, online shopping, the gum you chew, the clothes you wear, the furniture in your home; I could go on and on about wood and the opportunities it presents to society for a renewable resource, but I’ve said it all before and my father and grandfather, they’ve said it all before and still so many won’t listen.

Unfortunately, most media outlets need to have something dramatic or controversial to write about in order to capture reader’s attention, rather than looking at the positive, they just highlight what they believe in the negative. Forestry is a visual industry, where the trees stand tall one day and the next, they are gone and that makes some people feel sad and we understand that. But if only you stuck around to watch the forest grow again, you’d understand its a moment in time and part of the process to make the products you desire.

Our forests provide to us in so many ways and I’m proud of our province’s forest industry and the good work we do as a company. Sometimes its hard to see the bigger picture, I get that, when a stand of trees are harvested and its not pretty after, but they’ll grow back, we make sure of it.

The pictures are of a stand that was harvested in 1981 and then again, the end of last year. It wasn’t planted, what you see is what grew back naturally was over 70% balsam fir. It was pre-commercially thinned as it grew in too thick. You can see by the size of the trees thinning helped. Last Spring our Forest Technician realized much of it was getting susceptible to rot and so it was time to harvest again before it died.

So, the next time you see a harvested forest, I want you to think about what you build your house out of. If you’re building a house or renovating in the last month or two – the lumber might now be a part of your home. What didn’t make lumber, you now write your name on, wipe your bum with, get your takeout in, or helps NS Power reach its renewable energy targets, landscape your garden, or is the magazine you’re reading. So please keep that in mind the next time that you think or comment about the forest industry.

by Cassie (Ledwidge) Turple, 3rd Generation Sawmiller