Saturday, January 05, 2008

Sustainability a Meaningless Concept?

A few days ago I recieved a forwarded email originating from the North Coast Earth First! email list. Along with an SF Chronicle article on Mendocino Redwoods bid to take over Pacific Lumber, the message contained a note from "Shunka", the list moderator. Though I didn't agree with most of what he wrote, a few sentences especially stood out.

" "Sustainable" means practically nothing, nowadays, it's a certification that can be bought and sold on the market; it's a concept that's been co-opted to such a degree that it has become practically meaningless."

Talk about throwing the baby out with the bath water. The concept of sustainability is not meaningless. A certificate of sustainability is meaningless if given by a disreputable organization, but the concept itself? To me, sustainable logging means taking less wood in a year than will be replaced in a year at the rate at which the trees are growing. Very importantly, it also means logging practices that avoid harming the health of streams and rivers and preserve biodiversity in the forest.

" should be noted that the Mendocino Redwood Company has logged nearly all of their Old Growth Redwood holdings, so I wouldn't say that they're "a cut above" anyone."

Like others who have made this claim to me, he hasn't backed it up with any evidence or references. If there is evidence of this I would really like to know about it. A friend of mine who lived in a tree-sit in Kaisen Gulch years ago told me that the MRC ended up making a deal with local activists to not cut the disputed trees and to log several smaller trees with a comparable total volume of wood.

"The campaign to boycott the Gap, and shed light on the Fisher family and their relationship to both entities, has been active for many years, and deserves at least a mention by local organizations, who should know. You can check out the website at the following link:
http://www.gapsucks .org/"

The campaign to boycott the GAP was active for several years but it appears that the website has not been updated since 2004. I don't know if they are still active or not. One thing I noticed is that they were considering a boycott of all Redwood products. I'm glad that never happened. It's one thing to boycott a certain company or companies, but a boycott of all Redwood products? That would hurt small time businesses way more than the big companies. It also assumes, much like Shunka, that there is currently no sustainable production of Redwood products. Logging aside, what about businesses selling wood salvaged from old barns and other buildings that would otherwise have been destroyed?

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