Friday, October 23, 2015

Our Southern forests...

I would like to share my sense of outrage over what is happening to our Southern forests. We know that trees are essential to human survival. As woodworkers we are dependent on the materials supplied from the trees of our forests for our creation of beauty. We know that trees that have grown in a natural forest provide wood with character and greatest beauty. We know that the forests give life to the planet in a multitude of ways, only one of which is to convert carbon dioxide to oxygen, thus acting in reverse to global warming. We know the roots of trees control erosion and hold back the floods, that impoverish the soil and damage lives and that their leafy boughs fertilize the soil and sustain wildlife.

So, let's talk briefly about what is happening in the forest industry. Chipper mills. Whole forests are being mowed down, hauled away and pulverized to make pellets to feed power plants in Europe. There they consider wood products to be renewable energy. But how many years does it take to renew a whole forest? And what are the long term consequences?

When I moved to Arkansas in 1975, this place was forested and lovely. Over the years, thousands upon thousands of trees were cut and turned to pastures for livestock and clearings for gas stations. Whole forests were bulldozed into piles and burned as though the trees do not matter. I can assure you that when the forests are gone, they may not be coming back, and the idea of renewable requires first that we renew and take an active hand in preservation. There is no way on earth that chipping whole forests into pulp and burning them in power plants is a reasonable solution to global warming. In fact, the loss of forest resources is a particular horror for those of us who enjoy the beauty of wood.

You can read about the growing crisis here. Please also read part 2 and part 3.

I know that woodworkers use wood, but we also create beautiful and useful works from it and thereby share a sense of its value. We have an important interpretive role to perform, and simply using wood to share useful beauty is not enough as we watch whole forests destroyed.

Today, in addition to inlaying boxes with native hardwoods, I'll be a substitute teacher in the school's building club.

Make, fix, create, and insist that others learn likewise.

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