I am writing in response to the opinion expressed by Andy Perreault in the April 14, 2021, edition of the Review. He made another plea on behalf of our forests.
First, I agree with much of what Andy expressed, but I think he is being too cynical. I suppose I simply remain more hopeful that we will witness more positive change than he is expecting.
I strongly agree with his views on the importance of trees in the agro-ecological system. The role of trees is well documented, so there is no need for me to repeat these. It is worth repeating that trees do affect local weather patterns. Our local agro-ecological landscape affects our local weather.
It is true that here, in Prescott-Russell, tree cover has become dangerously low, and has consequences. For example, I will not be surprised if water wells start to run dry very soon. And there is the wind, as Andy pointed out.
Where I disagree is that, in my opinion, there must be compensation for landowners when they preserve forests. As an economist, I believe that economics dominates decisions in this context. There has to be a positive incentive to grow and manage trees rather than corn and beans.
Andy is correct. There are large tree planting projects elsewhere, such as Northern China and the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt. In 30 years, these areas should be showing a lot of green and seasonal rains. And yes, more could and should be done here, including preserving what is left. That is the challenge, to create the incentives for landowners to stop clear-cutting. Would our provincial
government support this? That is the big question. We need to go far beyond Ontario’s modest 40 Million tree program.
Think of the Larose Forest as a great example of what can be done. Let us hope that incentives come soon to stop the cutting before large areas become desert and repeat history.