ave a look round you, I bet you're surrounded by it. It seems an unavoidable modern fact. We uselots and lots of
paper. Although the dictionary definition tells us that
paper may be made fromrags or certain grasses, most paper we use derives from wood.
Although wood (
the hard fibrous lignified substance under the bark of trees
) is a renewable resource, wemust also recognise the time it takes for trees to grow. Some of these trees have been around for severalhundred years and support a diverse range of animals, plant life, insects, and birds (including our ownspecies). So when unscrupulous loggers cut down rainforests and ancient trees, you may understand why people get a little bit rattled (oh, that's the tree hugging hippies by the way, not anyone else, they don't care).Given the time it takes for a tree to grow, we can certainly fell it pretty quickly, either with a manual saw,or Man's more popular tool, the chainsaw. Trees that have been in existence for a hundred years, fall inseconds and crash to earth. No longer will you hear the wind whistling through its branches, no longer willthe birds sing from the treetops, now all there will be is an empty space.The funny thing is, I've never seen logging operations near to where I live, have you? In fact, I've never seen them in any great quantity anywhere; so either I'm blind, or maybe they aren't cutting down as manytrees as we say they are. But perhaps they're not being cut down in an area we live in, and maybe not eventhe in same country.For what? A flyer for two for one pizza, and a free two litre cola, that goes straight from the printer toyour bin!Admittedly, wood has been an important natural resource for humans. We have used it to build ships,make furniture such as tables and beds, construct our houses, make flooring – the uses of wood are endless,and let’s face it, it looks nice as well.As I sit here writing this topic, I look around my room to see what is made of wood. There is the bed, thetable I sit at, the wardrobe, the chair, the door, the window frame and finally, the floor. That's a lot of wood! Ionly hope it came from a sustainable resource, but I'll never know will I? I will leave you for a mo
ment toconsider what you use wood for, what items are in your house. Take a good look around, and ask your
self, “do I know where this wood came from? Was the item made from an ancient forest that was cutdown to make my table, or is it from a sustainable forest?” These are questions I never asked in the past, butthey are vitally important, unless you can think of a way of making trees grow faster than we are cuttingthem down, which is happening all over the world. By people. For what? Money.Let me tell you a short story.Several years ago, when I was living in australia, an item of news came on the television. It was tree-hugger activists trying to save an ancient forest in tasmania. They were occupying the trees to stop loggerscutting them down. They campaigned tirelessly to govern
ment, and although people with anenviron
mental conscience on the mainland were supportive, the local logging community were up in arms.“What are we going to do?” “What will happen to our families?” “Without logging we would be penniless,and jobless.” “Don't destroy our livelihoods.” Seems fair enough!You see, if the loggers can't cut down trees anymore, they will me made redundant, they will startclaiming unemploy
ment benefit, which the
taxpayer will have to cover, the government will be made tolook bad for not providing adequate employment, the economy will start to suffer, consumer confidence willdecrease, and people will stop spending, and there's an election coming up next year. Best do what theloggers want, after all they do all traditionally vote for us, we wouldn't want to lose that.So what happened? After angry scenes where the prime minister met the loggers (who you remember, arecutting down an ancient forest that took hundreds of years to grow, and is an essential part of the local (andglobal) ecosystem), the government reached a deal with them. They would include a small part of the forestin the national park, and the loggers were free to cut down the rest!“On the whole, a positive deal for the environment and the local economy,” I believe the prime minister said, or even if he didn't, that's what he believed he had achieved. Balance.
An undeniable connection
I don't know if you have ever cut down a tree. I have. With a chainsaw. Fortunately, it wasn't anything likethe size of the ancient forests of tasmania or the amazon.My friend lived in the countryside next to a small forest, and wanted more wood for the winter for hisfire, and rather than looking for a tree that had already fallen, he wanted to cut one down for himself.