Carbon


I am fascinated by trees, those cute and enormous organisms made out of air. The idea that I can hug the trunk of a little seedling I planted a quarter of a century ago, or stand next to a thousand-year-old alerce is mind blowing.

I am also fascinated by the idea of providing products and services from forests, either native or planted by humans. I enjoy the long-term thinking involved: we are not planning only for the next quarter but for decades in the future. It is likely that I won’t see the harvest of trees that I decide to establish today; a sobering thought.

Because of the large spatial and time scales, I tend to evaluate trees and forests from multiple viewpoints. Looking at a single aspect feels odd to me. Anathema would be the fancy word.

Here we arrive at carbon and climate change. As a forester, I feel uncomfortable at having people grabbing forests and forestry as a “solution” to climate change. At best forests are a band-aid, buying us a few years while we reduce emissions. But they also bring hard-to-quantify risks: additional water consumption, the threat of fires releasing carbon, changes to local biodiversity, etc. I am comfortable dealing with production forests, but nervous about the expansion of “carbon forestry”, particularly when done by people who have never been into forestry before.

Perhaps you feel very differently about this issue, but I would like to know how other foresters feel about this situation.

,