Counting Trees Instead Of Forests

In response to Saint John Hunt’s letter “The Rape of Oregon,” EW 4/7: Our local Seneca Timber brags on a sign outside of their Hwy 99 factory that there are more trees on the lands they log now than there were 100 years ago. A hundred years ago, the lands Seneca began clearcutting were actual forests with giant trees of many types surrounded by thousands of understory species, supporting thousands of animal species, spiders, insects and fungi.

Seneca has turned those forests into tree farms. The crop is entirely composed of identical genetically modified trees planted densely and sprayed with herbicides to kill understory plants competing with the commodity. Using this logic, today’s tree farms have far more trees than forests do. If words matter, we shouldn’t call tree farms “forests.”

Restoring forests is one of the most cost-effective ways of restoring the biosphere. Instead of destroying forests for building materials we could use carbon neutral building blocks. Grist makes a brick from residue from waste-to-energy plants, mixed with carbon dioxide and recycled materials. Each block contains more carbon than it took to manufacture. If the city of Eugene mandated the use of carbon neutral building blocks for the new constructions coming with their rezoning of residential neighborhoods, Eugene might be able to comply with its 2.0 Climate Action Plan.

If this sounds too radical, explain why — to your grandchildren.

Darin Henry