Standing in front of an mammoth tree is breathtaking – I have a giant tree around a century old just behind my house – and that is nothing compared to these other ancient beauties. It's also quite ugly at the moment, as we have cut down the ivy growing on the tree, and the drying bits of ivy are not too becoming. Yet at the same time, another thought crossed my mind: in another 4,000 years, there won't be any 4,000-year-old trees. There may be 8,000 or 10,000-year-old trees, but none from our day and time.
The problem lies in how we treat nature today: Yes, modern humans have a large requirement for resources. And with some notable exceptions that are very few and far between, we are incredibly bad at managing them.
Ever wonder what the term 'sustainable management' means? It is quite analogous to 'industrial farming' – which, more often than not, involves confining livestock to crowded living quarters, overly vaccinating them, and feeding them with random things not normally part of their diet. Or spraying and waxing fresh produce with things you'd rather not know about. No, the sustainable forestry industry is about extracting as much wood from the ground as quickly as possible while minimizing nutrient depletion in the soil.
And as quickly as possible often (but not necessarily) means: (1) introducing foreign fauna into the forest ecosystem, (2) tree harvesting once a particular threshold has been reached, (3) influx of fertilizers to encourage wood growth, (4) restriction of a tree's growing quarters (particularly in the case of colonial trees) to match human settlement patterns. That also means that trees would be continually harvested, such that ancient thousand-year-old beauties do not have a chance to grow.
Now: I am not an environmentalist, and I am not saying we should stop harvesting trees. We do need trees for our daily consume: they heat houses, fuel summer grills, and turn into paper, furniture, and many other comforts we've come to enjoy. But I am saying we need to rethink our concept of 'sustainable management' to strike a better balance between human needs and mother nature. And sadly, the current development of sustainable management points in the other direction.
Rather thorough overview of current
non sustainable activities, albeit quite biased (thx ):
Taking the long view
Mother Nature Network