Classic dilemma: environment vs. economy

The Regional Environmental Action Committee is proposing what amount to radical changes to how the forest products economy works. REAC came out recently with all guns blazing against current logging practices.

To be fair, clear-cutting is destructive. It can be a shock to come across a recently-logged area. There is certainly nothing pretty about it, and it is at least a temporary disruption of major proportions to whatever had been living there before it got turned into a moonscape.

Promoters of this type of industrial forest harvesting focus on other aspects. It all gets replanted, for one thing, or – in the case of deciduous stands – regenerates naturally. They’ll also point out that modern harvesting attempts to mimic natural disturbances to the landscape, I.e. fire. Fire also devastates large swaths of forest. Instead of letting it burn, we harvest it, turning it into valuable products and providing good jobs for many.

So there’s your dilemma. Some folks say this is clearly unsustainable, and it points towards inevitable disaster. Others say it is sustainable, and here’s a second-generation forest to prove it. Take your pick. It’s just another chapter in a long story of environmental versus economic considerations that define modern life, the world over.

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