In 2009, after several years of cruising the Tongass timberlands under the auspices of Sitka Conservation Society, I wrote them a summary paper on forest types most and least suitable for logging. Here’s the introductory paragraph: It’s easy to criticize logging as it has been practiced in Southeast Alaska. It’s harder to draft a vision of what economically and ecologically responsible forestry would look like in our ecoregion. Harder not for lack of guiding principles; foresters elsewhere have developed these, and it’s easy to apply them on the northern rain forest.
It’s harder, instead, because of the political situation on the Tongass, which seems to be leading us toward a great “trade-off,” gaining watersheds deemed biologically valuable in return for the sacrifice of presumably more expendable ones. Harder, also, because of what the Resilience Alliance calls “perverse subsidies” that almost guarantee depletion of irreplaceable species and habitats. It’s time to re-evaluate the direction we’re taking in the sincere effort to improve forest management throughout Southeast.