HOME Responses to Leaflets ACTION

Time and the Forest Growing

The answer given for Question 6 of NTMP Fact Checker, “Do forests really need to be managed? Can't they manage themselves?” estimates the time to develop an old growth forest from what currently exists in the CTPZ as 100 years or more. We have presented research suggesting the time, through natural recovery, from clearcut to statistical similarity with old growth is between 80 and 160 years (FDQ 4), but 100 years is in the right ballpark.

The leaflet Why Is TSRA Developing a Non-Industrial Timber Management Plan? cites a slightly different forecast (100–200 years) but at least it's the same order of magnitude.

We welcome these estimates, together with the estimate of how much faster the logging advocates claim that the NTMP will bring about a similar result: according to the same leaflet, they feel they can achieve the same result in “about half the time” as natural recovery. It is very useful progress that the logging proponents have finally quantified these claims.

The logging advocates feel they can achieve in 50–100 years what nature might achieve in 100–200 years. Suppose they are right. For simplicity, let's go with the lower end of the range, as the “Fact Checker” leaflet does. What is the advantage to Sea Ranchers of achieving this result in 50 rather than 100 years? Few among us are likely to be alive in 50 years. The costs in disruption to neighbors and to wildlife are immediate; the payback in time saved, on the other hand, is not meaningfully different from waiting for natural recovery. What's an extra 50 years after we're dead? This is not an appeal for short-term thinking; on the contrary, we believe the natural recovery process will produce a better eventual result, and one that is worth waiting for. Natural recovery will not disrupt our lives, regularly close off our trails for significant periods, or harass the countless wild creatures whose home is in the forest.

What's the rush? Rather than give in to the frequent human urge to control and hurry everything, why not enjoy the process of natural recovery?