Sunday, May 25, 2008

Latest Ploy to Log Last Remaining “Old Growth” Forests

They are causing global warming! There is a recent article in “Wired” magazine that claims old growth or virgin forests contribute to global warming. Listen to what they say: “Over its lifetime, a tree shifts from being a vacuum cleaner for atmospheric carbon to an emitter. A tree absorbs roughly 1,500 pounds of carbon dioxide in its first 55 years. After that, its growth slows, and it takes in less carbon. Left untouched, it ultimately rots or burns and all that carbon dioxide gets released”. As you can see, this is no more than using climate change to log the last remaining virgin forests. Notice that yearly figure of 55—that’s exactly when timber companies like to log their tree farms. “After that its growth slows and takes in less carbon”: well let me inform them that the difference in a 55 year old tree and a 200 year old tree is tremendous—it takes in more carbon during that stage than the first 55—that’s why they are so big! “Left untouched, it ultimately rots or burns and all that carbon dioxide gets released”. They make it sound like ancient forests burn easy and the truth is they are more resistant to fire than a tree farm. Rotting logs? The Willamette National Forest defines old growth forests with about 4 down trees per acre (with 200 year old trees). Then they give us this bit of advice: “A well-managed tree farm acts like a factory for sucking CO2 out of the atmosphere, so the most climate-friendly policy is to continually cut down trees and plant new ones.” Wow, they don’t care about biodiversity, the creatures that live in those down trees or the forest, the great watersheds, inspiration, people’s livelihoods, and sentient and non-sentient beings (trees). This kind of attitude is what got us in this mess; sustainability is using the land for our needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs. I guess all they think the next one needs is clear cuts with brush and small trees, invasive weeds, no recreation, few animals, and fire hazards. Trees grow fast in Oregon and there is no reason to stop logging public lands, but this kind of logic evades me.

David Best-PSU student

Here is an informative survey and quiz about Oregon’s old growth forests.

Click here


  1. As an advocate for old-growth trees, I must say that this survey is an eye-opening realization of the destruction logging can have on our old-growth trees. The photograph provided shows some trees that have possibly been around for more than 200 years. From previous personal research on the matter, your survey was an enlightening definition of just how precious our old growth trees are. Thank you!

  2. Thanks for pointing out Wired's outrageous claims about ancient forests and CO2. I wrote an article that you can find at the Native Forest Council site showing that logging causes roughly 447 million tons of CO2 to go into the atmosphere every year. This comes from academic studies and EPA data. Email me at for questions.

  3. Thanks for keeping up the struggle for the great standing ones in my old Oregon home.

    I also took WIRED magazine to task here. Nowadays I'm generally focused on Brazil and the pressures that development is exerting on the plants and peoples of the Amazon.

    Keep up the good work.

    Lou Gold
    VisionShare Blog