How much wood would a woodchopper chop if…

How much wood would a woodchopper chop if... In the May 13th News you printed a commentary provided by the Yukon Conservation Society's forestry co-ordinator. It contains a number of self-serving and disingenuous statements that should not go unchallenge

In the May 13th News you printed a commentary provided by the Yukon Conservation Society’s forestry co-ordinator.

It contains a number of self-serving and disingenuous statements that should not go unchallenged.

Indeed, the Yukon public should be concerned about the content of our new forestry act and regulations. Our forests provide a tremendous opportunity to create employment and reduce our dependency on fossil fuels. Harvesting trees to build Yukoners homes, and to heat those homes throughout the long, cold winters is an honourable enterprise.

It is a proud profession with a long history of contributing to Yukoners’ needs and lifestyles. Yukoners should expect and demand legislation

which allows and encourages the harvest of the timber resource in a responsible and sustainable manner.

Treating the harvest of the timber resource as an afterthought, to be considered only after all other real and imagined values of the conservation industry have been satisfied, is incredibly disrespectful of the resource and the hardworking men and women employed in harvesting it.

The regulations have established interim cut limits based on historical harvests and needs throughout the various regions of the territory. These cut limits simply maintain the status quo. In most cases the interim cut limits are substantially below maximum sustainability levels.

The author of the commentary states: “Proposed annual limits are not terrible.” Then the author goes on to say: “Perhaps no timber dispositions should be allocated until environmentally responsible forestry practices have been developed.”

What does the writer want? Existing limits are acceptable, but we should not harvest until the never ending circle of public consultation produces a verdict acceptable to the conservation industry. The next time we get a two-week, 50-below cold snap in Dawson City, a moratorium on cutting permits would produce some very interesting and entertaining results.

The writer’s statement also intimates that existing harvesting practices are not environmentally responsible. This is not true. The writer takes issue with the fact that “Forests with the biggest trees could be harvested first.”

This absurd approach, if applied to your garden, suggests you not harvest your largest and ripest tomatoes, and, if you follow the author’s statements further, also suggests you shouldn’t harvest the tomatoes if they happen to be growing next to the lettuce and cucumbers.

When we go to the woods to harvest saw logs for lumber and building logs for homes, obviously we seek the largest and best-quality timber we can locate. Typically, these large stems are mature and over-mature trees reaching the end of their natural lifespan.

Leaving these stands in favour of cutting younger, more productive forests is not only an irresponsible forestry practice, it is also lousy economics.

The writer of the commentary takes issue with the practice of clearcutting. Clearcutting is only one of many approaches to harvesting a forest. While not appropriate in all applications, there are times and places when clearcutting is the right approach to harvesting. The question is not “if to clearcut” but “how and when to clearcut.”

Last, the author of the commentary would deny the minister the ability to perform his or her job.

The minister is charged with the responsibility of managing the Yukon’s forests for the benefit of all Yukoners, not just an elite few.

To fulfill that responsibility, the minister must have the ability to respond to changing environmental and economic needs in a timely fashion.

If you are interested in more information, speak to your local woodcutter.

Bill Bowie

Whitehorse