Why I'm an Advocate for Logging in Saskatchewan

We're all ok with using wood and wood products. This opinion isn't radical. It's realistic, hell its even renewable. Harwood floors, fences, new cupboards, toilet paper, cardboard. Everyone consumes wood products, even prefers them over alternatives. Yet clear cuts are horrific and unthinkable acts. People want to close their eyes and wish the 2x4's at the lumber yard or the paper in their printer magically appeared.

To bring this into perspective, I'll introduce some very simple facts. I won't go into terrific detail because it is completely unnecessary to get my point across. Neither will I cite my sources for these simple concepts I learned during my diploma in Integrated Resource Management I took in Prince Albert. Our forests are NOT OLD GROWTH. They take roughly 80 years to mature. Theoretically we could harvest 1/80th of our harvestable timber a year to ensure sustainability. We harvest nowhere near that amount. The three primary species harvested in Saskatchewan are white spruce, jack pine and trembling aspen. Two of those require clear cut logging to regenerate, they NEED direct sunlight. The other one (white spruce) likes to grow underneath a canopy of aspens. So theoretically, clear cuts are actually the best harvesting method in the province. If this wood isn't harvested, it doesn't just sit there pristine. By the time the stand is 120 years old, disease and insects grow rampant, begging for a fiery renewal. Fuel loading is heavy and ready to burn hot after a lightning storm. Modern management strategies prevent that from happening, which I am a part of. It is acceptable to harvest this wood before it rots. Not all organic matter is removed from the ecosystem. The topsoil remains, so do all the branches and non-merchantable tops of trees that are removed on site using a cut to length processor or de-limber. These break down slowly, releasing nutrients for future forests.

Currently your eyebrows are likely furrowed in anger towards my complete economic view of the resource. Hold on. Forestry companies don't have free reign on all the merchantable timber in the north. They abide by strict policies set in place by the Ministry of Environment. These standards are constantly monitored by government employees unrelated to the logging company. Much of the north is already set aside as Provincial Parks, National Parks, Ecological Reserves and Representative Area Networks and will NEVER BE LOGGED. Logging is restricted to a thin band of forest in our province called the Boreal Plain. The Boreal Shield and Taiga to the north are not economically feasible. Before logging any area, a mandatory process of engaging stakeholders is done. This includes local trappers, communities, bands, and any other resource users. Logging riparian areas (transition zones between ecosystems) or within 30 meters of any waterbody is prohibited. Many policies pertaining to wildlife including nesting birds must be abided by. Companies are required by law to replant what they log. This work is usually contracted out. Thats right. TEN TREE APPAREL GETS PAID TO PLANT TREES and they really aren't doing anything special. Logging companies in modern times do cuts that mimic the shape of wildfires and try to leave corridors or a series of unlogged islands for wildlife to travel across.

Contrary to popular belief foresters are not evil, most of them are naturalists with an incredible knowledge of the inner workings of our precious boreal forests. The industry gets a really bad rap for some of the cuts happening in old growth forests on the west coast of the continent. Those forests are over 1000 years old and rely on succession. They will likely never come back the same. I still think our industry has room for improvement. Most of the controversy and general dismay that occurs in the province stems from one small detail. Cuts being visible from major roads. This shouldn't happen, especially with the lack of topography in the province. A thirty meter buffer would suffice. I obviously prefer looking at forests in the mature or at least teenage stage, but I'm not the individual that is the problem. Every Bob and Sue unaware of the above mentioned details gets worked up when they see a cut on the way to the lake and thinks they should stir the pot and save the planet. Half our province is forest. Look at the flag. Children should be educated on the basics of the forestry industry, told that it is acceptable. Told that it is an important industry, just like agriculture. With so many trees and so few people, we shouldn't be using anything but local wood. Utilize our own resources and support our own economy. Spruce, pine and OSB (oriented strand board). Lumber mills in Meadow Lake, Big River and Hudson Bay.

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© 2016 By Dean Johnson.