Couldn’t see the forest for the trees

Re: “Not so clearcut” by Drew Anderson Cover January 31-February 6 2007.

Why is it so hard to protect an area of such high value so close to Calgary? The Fast Forward article "Not so clearcut" shows why. The media which significantly forms public opinion miss the point because they use government policy as a starting point. The government defines the terms of reference. When reporters write about issues they don’t understand they by definition must devote time and effort to explore and reveal complex issues — the natural and human processes that shape our landscape in this case. The author devoted the first three-quarters of the article to an investigation of how forests grow and how they affect the water that flows through them. That was useful but it missed the point.

The fact is we have a healthy mature forest in our backyard. It provides real value to the social and economic interests of Calgarians and all who enter it — that’s hundreds of thousands of people. The issue is not the benefits of logging. It is the benefits of not logging. In a recent survey conducted by Save Kananaskis the overwhelming response from the 150 respondents was "leave it alone." That isn’t an option for government or industry. According to the author the issue is whether to burn the forest or cut it down. In his attempt to understand the issue he got caught up in the details and missed the point — he couldn’t see the forest for the trees.

Forest management the subject of the article is an important issue and the author did a good job of covering the foresters’ point of view. But he failed to consider that nature does a better job of managing the forest than humans do. At least he didn’t fall prey to the idea that we have to clear cut the forest to save it from the pine beetle.

On the water issue he again missed the point. The city water specialist said he is reassured by a government plan to monitor the effect of logging on the watershed. The author devoted a lot of ink to the many scientifically proven negative impacts deforestation has on the quality and quantity of water which is why we and the water specialist should be concerned. How can monitoring alleviate the impact of logging?

Industrial activity in Kananaskis is a bad policy. The author portrayed the opposition to this policy as being a quaint emotional expression; not unlike the crafts on sale at a Christmas bazaar. Bizarre.

This article failed to identify the real issue — the multi-use policy that provides access for logging oil and gas agriculture and recreation in Kananaskis. It didn’t mention the impact logging has on recreational activities in particular the destruction of the Trans Canada Trail. It didn’t mention the effect logging will have on businesses that rely on visitors to the area to sustain their businesses. But why would it? Those aren’t the terms of reference set out by the government.

Doug Sephton

Save Kananaskis