Branding the world’s primary forests as ancient is probably one of the slickest con jobs in recent environmental history. Because ancient forests (in the normal sense of the word) are few and far between, if they exist at all.
Some environmental groups have embraced the term, promoting an Ancient Forest Friendly logo scheme that corporations can buy into and then use to brag about their environmental credentials. The media has got into the act as well, with journalists and bloggers slipping in the word ancient to describe forests or trees, with little or no consideration as to whether its use is appropriate or accurate.
Let me be very clear here. The cause of conserving and protecting the world’s remaining primary forests is commendable. And many of these forests are certainly endangered. I don’t have a problem with the cause. And I have no wish to step into the emotional cauldron of BC politics and how its people handle what are commonly called old-growth forests. My objection here is to the hijacking of the meaning of the word ancient for emotional and commercial purposes, and to the media’s continued and inaccurate use of the word.
Because for most people, ‘ancient’ means “old,” as in “really old.” And Canada’s forests are not old. In fact, most of them are less than 100 years old! And if you look at the boreal forest alone, only 1% of its trees makes it to more than 200 years old! To describe them or the boreal forest as ancient, then, is BS.
You can read more on this issue in two excerpts of my article published today: a shorter one in Greenbiz (https://www.greenbiz.com/article/sorry-folks-theres-no-such-thing-ancient-forest) and a longer one in Green Growth BC (https://greengrowthbc.com/articles/f/how-activists-wrote-your-dictionary-and-why-it-matters).
Or you can simply buy Little Green Lies and Other BS and get all 37 chapters of the book! In addition to forest and paper issues, it covers false and misleading environmental claims; the confusion about generated and disposed waste; the role of packaging; so-called “recovery” and “recycling” rates; recycled content; the truth about sugarcane (bagasse), and what “zero” waste may or may not include. There’s plenty of “little green lies” and BS to go around!