Thursday, June 28, 2012

Writing Letters to Save the Tongass National [Rain] Forest -- Again!!

Ruth Sandra Sperling
RSS Designs In Fiber - My Handmade Designs on ARTFIRE

It seems like it has been going on forever - the ecological riches of Alaska - those who want to "plunder" them for short-term economic gain -- and those who are forever fighting to Save them because of their Global Ecological significance!

Though I had heard about it before, it was when I acquired the book by Robert Glenn Ketchum, "THE TONGASS ALASKA'S VANISHING RAINFOREST" (copyright 1987) in 1988 that I saw the riches of that forest in his photographs and read about his on-the ground adventures there.  Though I have never been there, this book brought me closer to what is really there.


Here are two Quotes From "The Refuge of the Rain Forest" in "THE TONGASS ALASKA'S VANISHING RAINFOREST" by Robert Glenn Ketchum with Carey D. Ketchum:

"As we flew over the monumental landscape in a tiny bush plane, the greenness of the world below commanded all out attention.  Green of a richness unlike any shade of this color you have ever known.  Green of more varieties and nuances than you can imagine.  Green in every crack in every wall. Green covering the floors of the valley.  Green
even in the milky waters flowing out of the glaciers.  And everywhere that it is green, life abounds."

"Old-growth temperate rainforest once dominated the West Coast from Northern California to Kodiak Island in Alaska.  Remnants of old growth, such as the Hohn Rain Forest on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington state, are scattered along the Pacific Coast.  But, beautiful as they are, they are only remnants.  The Tongass is a world
unto itself, and for centuries it has remained virtually undisturbed.  Now a forest that has achieved full maturity, it has reached a steady state, encompassing trees of all ages, dominated by old monarchs of large size.  Beneath their canopy, younger trees grow toward the light, ready to replace any of the giants that might succumb to wind, rot, insects, or disease.  In the understory, herbs, shrubs, and vines grow in profusion.  Old trees that die and fall open windows to the sky that are filled by the most vigorous younger trees.  Lichens and moss grow everywhere on the forest floor as well as in the canopy.  The decaying trunks of trees that have fallen become "nurse" logs, simultaneously decomposing into soil and serving as seedbeds for new growth.  Biologists refer to this as a forest of uneven age, and consider it to be the most productive and diverse."

I don't know how to communicate to the readers the vast Ecological Value of this National [Rain] Forest - except by sharing with you photos and what others have written and said about it.

 -- Here is a video from Audobon Alaska -- it says and shows the key points on protecting this Global Treasure!!                                                               

In a recent response to the recent attempts of a corporation, Sealaska Corporation, to acquire 65,000 acres of the Tongass National Forest for them to commercially log - including clear-cutting Old Growth trees - for their corporate short-term gain - apparently with no consideration for the Ecological Values of this land or with any 
attempt at conserving these Globally significant values - 300 scientists (listed in the document) wrote this "An Open Letter from Over 300 Scientists on Protecting the Tongass National Forest", which is embedded at the end of this post!

For me it is all pretty much covered in this statement in this Letter, which has a number of Footnotes referencing research and statements from prominent scientists in Forestry Resources and Research:

"When rainforests are logged, much of their stored carbon is released as a greenhouse gas pollutant during site preparation, manufacture, and transport of wood products, which in the case of the Tongass, involves long distances to the Pacific Rim. These losses are not made up by storing carbon temporarily in wood products or by  planting trees, as the on-site reduction in carbon storage from logging takes at least 200 years to return to about the same amount of stored carbon in the uncut old-growth forest."

The reference (5) for this statement in the letter is:
5Harmon ME, Ferrell WK, Franklin JF. 1990. Effects on carbon storage of conversion of old-growth forests to young forests. Science 247:699–702. -- 

 -- including a Forestry Scientist who I have known of for years - and who I have heard speak -- and even emailed with some:  Dr. Jerry F. Franklin -- so I personally feel I can trust this data!!

200 years at least to attempt to restore the same amount of stored carbon that would be released if this Old Growth in the Tongass National Forest is logged???? 

-- And I am afraid that I am not sure of any guarantees of that restoration happening it in that time - with current conditions and Climate Change, we may never be able to have this same Old Growth that they want to remove - again!!  I heard this being discussed by scientists at a Science Workshop in 1999 put on by the Sierra Nevada Framework of the US Forest Service.

We don't have the 200 years on Earth, anyway, I am afraid -- We simply cannot afford to allow such logging in the Tongass National Forest.

How much more do you want to read to be convinced??

I am writing my Senators and the President in this case -- it is said that even if they already agree with you, they need to receive comments to support and back their positions on these things -- so write I will!!

Do you want to?? -- You can!! -- Comments on public lands are allowed - and even welcomed by some - in the United States of America!!

For further Scientific and Agricultural reading -- you might want to check these papers online:

  2. LIGHTENING THE TREAD OF POPULATION ON THE LAND by Paul E. Waggoner, Jessie H. Ausubel and Iddo K. Werrick
  3. Higher density means world forests are capturing more carbon
  4. Searching for Leverage to Conserve Forests:The Industrial Ecology of Wood Products in the United States

An Open Letter from Over 300 Scientists on Protecting the Tongass National Forest

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