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BC Old Growth Forests Need Protection
To Whom It May Concern, May 23, 2021
Re: Fairy Creek, and the last remnants of old growth forests in BC
Having spent decades studying the role of mushroom mycelium in habitat health, it is clear to me that the latest remnants of old growth forests are genomic libraries that must be protected. In recognition of the current climate crisis, continued destruction of forest ecosystems is unacceptable.
Genomic storage and the vast essential depth and breadth of ecological functions of forests are essentially ignored within the legislation and licensing standards overlooking Canadian forestry activity. The simplistic measurement of timber board-feet of lumber grossly under-assesses the value of old growth forests.
Our research over recent years has identified strains of polypore mushrooms which have potent antiviral properties, especially Agarikon (Fomitopsis officinalis = Laricifomes officinalis), a species which grows almost exclusively in these native forests.
Preserving the biodiversity of fungi – mycodiversity – depends on preserving the old growth forests that Agarikon dwells within. With every loss of old-growth woodlands, we are losing genomic libraries of fungi which could help prevent current and future pandemics.
Moreover, Agarikon has a long history of use by First Nations in the lands known now as British Columbia. (Blanchette et al. 1992. Nineteen Century Shaman Grave Guardians Are Carved Fomitopsis officinalis sporophores. https://doi.org/10.1080/00275514.1992.12026114 )
The forests provide a central support system for all life on Earth. They stand to serve as critical in mitigating and resolving the climate crisis. Decisions about old-growth forests must be reviewed with the full picture of forest ecology in mind.
I speak as someone who spent several years setting chokers and rigging for G&D logging, pulling boards on the green chain at Summit Timber, and running cut-off in a shingle mill in Darrington, Washington, U.S. I also was a ‘cedar rat’ doing salvage recovery on the Quinault Indian lands of Olympic Peninsula, slinging bolts of cedar that flew out bundles via helicopter for shingle mills. Some of my friends died while in the brush.
I have great compassion and history with the wood products industry, so I speak from the perspective of not only a scientist, but someone who was part of the PNW logging community.
We have now started a Public Benefit Company here in B.C. whose focus is also centered on fungal genomic preservation. I am currently working in BC on a remote Gulf island, on a work permit, employing Canadians in an emerging sustainable, ecologically aligned new business.
Paul Stamets, Founder, Director of Research, employing 131 earthlings. For my complete bio, see www.paulstamets.com
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