Old-growth rainforests are mesmerizing. No other planet in this or any other galaxy, which we know of, supports these hallowed cathedrals of splendor.
Long-lived, self-perpetuating, unique genetics, structurally diverse with dead standing and fallen trees, gaps in the canopy and habitat for a rich array of life forms – old-growth has it all. It is the best that Mother Earth can muster at inhaling and storing carbon, exhaling oxygen, circulating freshwater, making climate and providing lodging for our brethren and sistren, the animals. Hallelujah.
Where there are rainforests it is wet: locally, regionally, continentally and intercontinentally. These stupendous biologically complex treed communities create vast atmospheric rivers of moisture, sustaining life on land. And they are giant air conditioners seeding clouds that reflect an extra five percent of incoming solar radiation into space.
From spirit bears to Tasmanian devils, rainforest life is absolutely dazzling. Predator/prey interactions are in a constant arms race. For instance, tropical rainforest fishing bats use sonar to locate fish and utilize a gaff-like toe to catch them, while plants have developed mind-boggling chemical defenses against fungi, bacteria, viruses, insects and animal grazers and browsers.
The scent within an old-growth rainforest is like walking into a heady aromatic medicine chest. Every breath is a medicinal tour de force that helps the human body ward off cancers.
As trees get older, they get better at stockpiling carbon. An estimated 70 percent of all carbon stored in some trees accumulated in the last half of their lives, and 40 percent for some in their last quarter. Only one percent of the existing trees on the globe are spellbinding giants. They live in the world’s last old-growth rainforests and retain an astounding 50 percent of all the stored terrestrial carbon. Robust invaluable masterpieces!
Globally, the remaining old-growth rainforests are being ransacked at an accelerated pace by greedy planet-killing bankers, pension funds, and delinquent governments looking for quick cash whilst daily sentencing a couple hundred species to extinction. Enough is enough.
That’s why intrepid forest defenders and treesitters in Tasmania, Australia, and British Columbia, Canada, are guarding intact precious old-growth.
Tasmania’s takayna/Tarkine is the largest temperate old-growth rainforest in the southern hemisphere. Its living Gondwana links and endangered animals like gray goshawks, spotted-tail quolls, the world’s largest freshwater crayfish, the fastest parrot in the animal kingdom, the swift parrot, and the monogamous masked owls are heavenly and so worthy of total protection.
Tourists from all four corners of the world can’t wait to visit these breathing dripping wooden chapels with the cleanest air on the planet. Instead of celebrating this exquisite biodiversity and protecting these priceless takayna carbon warehouses, for over 20 years the Tasmanian government has subsidized bulldozers, chainsaws, wood pellets, napalming, and multinational logging companies to the tune of $1.3 billion. It is a giant fraud that has squandered taxpayer monies, a blatant dereliction of duty by the elected lawmakers.
Old-growth rainforests hold 80 percent of Earth’s terrestrial biodiversity.
In fact, Australia’s plantations grow enough timber to supply domestic and international markets. There are no reasons whatsoever to ruin any more of Australia’s incomparable climate-stabalizing old-growth rainforests.
The Bob Brown Foundation has filed a legal action in the federal High Court to protect biodiversity and end logging in native Tasmanian forests.
Meanwhile on the westside of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, the Ancient Forest Alliance and its defenders are standing watch over some of the last intact old-growth in the province, including the glorious ancient yellow cedars, within the Fairy Creek watershed. Teal Jones loggers intend on flattening the ancient ones and hightailing it with their loot to the nearest bank.
For a hundred years, logging companies have annihilated British Columbia’s old-growth, hastened the Sixth Mass Extinction and the climate crisis while pocketing a trillion dollars. It’s a textbook example of disgraceful crown (public-owned) mismanagement rife with subsidies, including building a thousand of miles of logging roads on the taxpayers dime. These self-serving feckless politicians dole out $365 million annually to logging companies that demolish rare old-growth rainforests. The woodsmen quickly mince the ancient ones into tiny wood pellets to be cremated in hulking furnaces halfway across the world, roasting whatever remains of Mother Earth in their wake. By the way, those wood pellets release 13 percent more planet-wrecking greenhouse gases per unit energy compared to coal. Egregious.
For a hundred years, logging companies have annihilated British Columbia’s old-growth, hastened the Sixth Mass Extinction and the climate crisis while pocketing a trillion dollars.
Many of the yellow cedars, north of Fairy Creek on British Columbia’s mainland, have become climate victims. Climate instability has denied snowfall along British Columbia’s coastal mountains and wreaked havoc within the high elevation rainforests. For 10,000 years, yellow cedars have thrived in these rugged snowforests, the accumulated snow prevented the soils from freezing. This century, minus late winter snowfalls, the ground froze and killed yellow cedar roots. Today, there are over 1,500 miles2 of many dozens of thousands of dead ancient yellow cedars. This remarkable species is doomed to extinction from the hideous man-made climate catastrophe.
Yellow cedars are listed as endangered 40 miles to the south of Fairy Creek in the United States. Instead of protecting the venerable southern mountain cedars and the entire old-growth rainforest in the Fairy Creek watershed, the British Columbia government is paying loggers to raze them. “These are some of the biggest, most remarkable yellow cedars we’ve ever seen,” said Ancient Forest Alliance campaigner and photographer, TJ Watt.
The ongoing plundering in British Columbia is absolutely heartbreaking, especially since this once great rainforest-endowed province has only one percent of its old-growth left. Shame on Premier John Horgan.
Old-growth rainforests hold 80 percent of Earth’s terrestrial biodiversity. Ninety percent of all cities draw their daily water from rainforests. Quite simply, we cannot continue to colonize this planet, our only home, without the marvelous ancient global rainmakers.
Already the North Pole is 90 degrees and the Siberian climate fires have begun, again. Antarctica’s western ice sheets are melting as fast a Captain Billy’s Whiz Bang. #SOS
We demand a Universal Declaration for Nature to protect the entire world’s remaining old-growth rainforests from any logging, poaching, mining and grimy oilmen fracking and poisoning freshwater forever.
The key to human survival in the face of the climate emergency and in the Age of Extinction is to safeguard all nature’s rainmaking, carbon-storing, breathing, exalted wooden elders. It’s coming and not a moment too soon!
Please support the vital conservation initiatives of the Bob Brown Foundation and the Ancient Forest Alliance.
Agitate. Disrupt. Defend.
Dr Reese Halter is an award-winning broadcaster, distinguished conservation biologist and author.
Dr Reese Halter’s latest book is now available!