Deforestation

As the world's human population swells, so does the demand for lumber, paper and other forest products. The Pacific Northwest is one of the largest lumber supplying area in the world. There, and at many other locations around the world, huge tracts of land are being stripped of their forests in order to meet the need for more and more wood-derived products.

This is a threat to orcas because many orcas depend critically on salmon and salmon depend critically upon freshwater forest stream for their breeding.

What is Being Done

CAC spent time with one company that is working to protect the streams where it cuts down trees while also maintaining a business. Its foresters carefully analyze an area before it is cut, looking at the dynamics of the local ecosystem. They categorize streams and develop the best ways to build roads and cut down trees without damaging those streams.

It is also following a practice known as variable retention, that leaves some trees standing to help forests grow back after being cut. Wood harvested in an environmentally sensitive manner such at this are sometimes labeled by independent certifiers so that consumers can tell is has been cut on well-managed forests. The international Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), based in Mexico, is the leading certifier. The National Wildlife Federation is a charter member of this group and has worked with the FSC-accredited SmartWood program. This partnership has certified more that 1 million acres of forest in the United States alone and is working to improve community-based forestry.

Logos of FSC and SmartWood are affixed to wood products from chairs to picture frames to alert consumer that their buying decisions can help protect the environment. For information on location of stores where FSC-certified wood products are available, go to www.fscus.org.

What You Can Do

Whether you are in school or working in an office, we all can participate in preserving forests by recycling paper and being aware of our use of lumber and paper products. If your community or school does not have a recycling program, educate yourself and take a stand in developing one. Most places are not opposed to such ideas, they just need someone to get them started.

Most importantly, whenever you have a choice, utilize products made from recycled paper -- even if it costs a little more!! It is not enough to put your waste paper into the recycle bin. We have to also complete the circle by buying the paper back when it is returns to the marketplace as a new product. At present, this is the most important step in the struggle to adapt our culture to a lifestyle of recycling.

Beyond that, when consuming lumber products, try your best to purchase wood certified by the FSC (or similar independent group) as having derived from environmentally well managed forests. Logos of FSC and SmartWood are affixed to wood products from chairs to picture frames to alert consumer that their buying decisions can help protect the environment. For information on location of stores where FSC-certified wood products are available, go to www.fscus.org.


 

Content provided by Canisius College students under the direction of Michael Noonan, PhD.