Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Murder of an Ancient Matriarch

Murder of an Ancient Matriarch
Who cannot love old-growth groves where enormous trees soar skyward like turrets and flying buttresses. Shafts of golden light angle down to a dusky forest floor that is rich with sword ferns, moss-covered logs and witch’s hair dangling from branches. When I am amongst these gentle giants I feel a spirituality, a deep closeness with nature.

But last week a tear welled in my eye as I gazed at the largest stump I’ve ever seen. About 45 feet in circumference and about a thousand years old, the noble red cedar had been cut only recently. The thud as this old matriarch hit the forest floor should have reverberated throughout the land. Instead there was silence. The surrounding clear-cut, located near Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, contained many large stumps, several rivalling this one in size. Photos of the clear-cut can be seen at: http://utopiaphoto.ca/blog/?p=343

This ancient grove should never have been logged. That such rare old-growth trees, which form only a tiny and diminishing fraction of the forest, continue to be felled highlights serous shortcomings in the BC government and the logging industry.

Looking deeper, this sea of stumps also sends a message about the world’s population. There are so many people now that to provide shelter, clothes, food and modern conveniences, we must lay waste the resources that nature has provided. Shameful practices are found in the fisheries, oil and gas, fresh water and elsewhere. The days when resources were harvested sustainably are far behind.

The murder of a grand old-growth matriarch, leaving behind only a stump, is a sure sign that our society is failing. Can we not turn it around?