Originally published on A Conversation On BC Forests (2011).
By David Shipway
As a woodworker on the drier southern BC coast with a very small woodlot, and some working familiarity with the timber journey – from seed to old tree and from sawn lumber to sailboat, it seems
obvious to me that there’s still a tug of war between two polarized goals in forestry. One strives for Quantity, the other strives for Quality. It’s a simplification I know, but then we could also call it
Ishmael’s battle between Takers and Leavers, and ask who is winning. Nearly always in our modern addiction to economic growth, gross volume wins over real value. But the short-term quest for higher quantity has already severely compromised long term timber quality in many coastal watersheds. Does this have to be the eternal dilemma in our transient relationship with wild forests, trees and wood? Or is this really a false dichotomy built on ignorant assumptions? Is there a better middle path, a more gracious future in a truly sustainable forestry?