The trees are alright

For the most part, the article “What the woods taught me” by Cecily Ross [Winter 2007/2008] about the writer’s experiences logging her treasured woodlot was well written. She concluded that a forestry consultant should be hired to mark trees for harvesting to protect the interests of landowners and their woodlots. Why not ask the question, however, of why a woodlot needs to be cut at all?

In my more than 30 years of experience dealing with forestry industry representatives, I am continually amazed at how often the opinion is expressed that forests need to be harvested to remain healthy. It is important to keep in mind that these people were trained in forestry schools and by an industry whose motive is to produce timber at the maximum production rates to boost their bottom line.

While some forests can benefit from logging, it is usually for one of two reasons: one, a previous logger made such a mess of the forest that it will take decades before it can produce anything of any merchantable value; two, the goal of the forest is to perpetuate species that are largely shade intolerant (e.g., oak species).

However, forests of shade-tolerant species (e.g., maple, beech) do not normally need thinning to be healthy. [That they do] is a myth perpetuated by a self-serving industry.

Who was looking after these magnificent and diverse forests for the millennia before Europeans arrived in Ontario? You and I will never see their likeness in Ontario in our lifetime. It takes decades, even centuries, for a forest of this quality to develop and mature. There probably isn’t a true old-growth hardwood forest left in Ontario. I would suggest that even the best of what we have left pales in comparison to the forests of 200 years ago.

I am not against appropriate timber harvest, yet I am greatly mystified and saddened when I hear a supposedly authoritative source state that a forest requires regular harvest to be healthy – and the majority of people believe it.
P. ALLEN WOODLIFFE, Chatham

Backyard treasure

I read with great interest Cecily Ross’s “What the woods taught me” about the “thinning” of her woodlot. I live in Mississauga near the lake, and although I do not have a woodlot, I treasure all 11 trees on our property. Our neighbour has a 42-acre woodlot north of Lake Superior, and he gets harassed constantly by private loggers and miners wanting to strip his lot and offering to pay him big money! Apparently his acreage has valuable minerals on it. I just hope he will hold out – so far he has. As soon as I finish this issue, I am giving it to him. I know it will give him food for thought about his woodlot.
CAROL DYCK, Mississauga

Dream vacation

While waiting my turn at the dentist’s office, I noticed a wide selection of magazines to browse through and I selected yours to read. The Last Word article “Travel light” by Julee Boan [Winter 2007/2008] caught my attention.

Fifty years ago, I was one of the technicians working on the Mid Canada Line and had the good fortune of working on several sites along the 55th parallel (the south shore of Hudson Bay from the Manitoba border to James Bay). I experienced the awesome feeling of being at the mouth of the Winisk River as it flowed into Hudson Bay.

You would have to be a dreamer to even think that ecotourism in that part of the bay would be possible. No way!
WILFRED HORWICH, North York

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