You Can’t Grow Ancient! By Gord Miller Chair of Earthroots

May 10, 2024
Gord Miller

The concept of old growth is in fact the literal manifestation of the idiom “he can’t see the forest for the trees.”

Those involved in the forest industry ultimately measure their success and generate their income by cutting standing timber.They see old growth as big logs for sawing. They take solace in the myth that they are ‘harvesting’ a crop of trees that can subsequently be re-planted or re-seeded and consequently replaced without consequence given time. In that context the land presently occupied by the old growth is not ‘productive’ in that it is not generating a new ‘crop’ of commercial logs.

There may be some basis for that belief in the boreal forest which has evolved to sustain cycles of stand replacing fires every 75 years, but not in ancient pine forests. If we cut stands where the dominant ecological conditions are characterized by centuries old living trees and standing snags persisting for decades, they will not be seen again in many human lifetimes and certainly not in anything resembling an economic cycle. Forestry activity in such forests results in the total destruction of the structure and function of the old growth ecosystem and the release of hundreds of years of sequestered greenhouse gasses. All species and genetic heritage maintained in that ecosystem are effectively lost. Cutting old growth pine stands is essentially ‘mining’ wood.There will be no replacement of that ecosystem.

If you want to have pine wood in your economic system establish plantations on poor quality land in southern Ontario like was done at scale from about 1940 to the 1970s. Such planted stands can be tended, thinned and grow true crops of commercial logs that can be harvested in a human lifetime. This technology is proven and operational. 

We must identify and protect the remaining old growth forests. They are a legacy of our ancestors and a treasured natural heritage owed to future generations.

Become an Earthroots Supporter

As a non-profit organization, we rely solely on donations from supporters to keep us going. If you're able to, please consider making a donation for a better tomorrow.

Donate Now