Clearcutting occurs everywhere, even in Alaska. Saw it in Oregon, so shouldn’t have been surprised to see it here. And, not that this should be hidden from our view, but really? In front of our very eyes on a lovely breath-taking cruise? More like a sucker punch to the gut! Sacrilege!The term “clearcutting” means the felling and removal of all trees from a given tract of forest. One forestry expert refers to the practice as “an ecological trauma that has no precedent in nature except for a major volcanic eruption.” Clearcutting can destroy an area’s ecological integrity in a number of ways, including:
- the destruction of buffer zones which reduce the severity of flooding by absorbing and holding water;
- the immediate removal of forest canopy, which destroys the habitat for many rainforest-dependent insects and bacteria;
- the removal of forest carbon sinks, leading to global warming through the increased human-induced and natural carbon dioxide build-up in the atmosphere;
- the elimination of fish and wildlife species due to soil erosion and habitat loss;
- the removal of underground worms, fungi and bacteria that condition soil and protect plants growing in it from disease;
- the loss of samall-scale economic opportunities, such as fruit-picking, sap extraction, and rubber tapping; and
- the destruction of aesthetic values and recreational opportunities.