Teddy Bear Rainforest

I was driving a rented car from Sidney to Victoria about 15 years ago.

I was driving a rented car from Sidney to Victoria about 15 years ago.

On that drive, along the highway, there was large billboard. It pictured a vast tract of forest cut down, with a single tall tree left standing.

Below was a desolate scene of stumps and dark, possibly burned land. At the skimpy skinny tip-top of an evergreen, as if clinging for its very cute life, was a white baby Kermodei bear. It looked like a poor lost lonely fuzzy Teddy.

“Help save my Rainforest,” the billboard said. And a toll-free number for donations.

Aww! Poor thing….

….Is what a lot of people may have thought, seeing that. Let’s stop those bad people from hurting the sweet bear!

But it was not a photo, it was Photoshop.

If it had been a real photo of a recent cutblock, the baby Kermodei (say it aloud: “the baby Kermodei”) would have been with mom and maybe a sibling (possibly black or orangey-beige) rooting among the yummy young green shoots and berry-bushes that grow up fast when the sunlight hits the ground. It would have shown the verdant fresh green and eye-popping reds of that new growth. Fireweed and wild strawberries love disturbed sunny areas.

According to kidzworld.com, “If you want to see a black bear with white fur, head to Princess Royal Island, British Columbia – it’s the only place you’ll see the endangered Kermode bear. Simon Jackson is one of the few people to have seen the white Kermode, or Spirit bear, and if things go his way, he won’t be the last. Simon is doing all he can to save these rare bears from becoming extinct.” Hmm, a few errors of fact there.

Let’s go directly to spiritbearyouth.org. The coalition proposes to inject millions of dollars into the economy, through profits from their forthcoming Hollywood animated movie, to create “long-term tourism ventures, expand sea-based aquaculture ventures, create conservation-based jobs, and allow for the construction of a more value-added community-based forestry operation.” Phew! Glad somebody’s on that! Thanks, SBYC!

When I heard about southern-urban-dwellers wanting to Save The Old Growth Forest, or anyway, a particular really old tree near to their house that needed wires and cables to hold it up, I wondered at that, too.

I had recently been introduced to Old Growth Forests and found them remarkable. You don’t have to hike far from Terrace to find a very steep place where it’s not practical to try to harvest the wood, and the streams or rivers are more like skinny waterfalls. I found that it is very quiet there.

There are no bugs buzzing, there are no birds chirping, there are no squirrels scolding, there are no bears thrashing and no Prancers dashing, because there is nothing to eat. A person could safely lie down on the deep moss and have a shady damp nap.

One day in Florida, in a cleared swamp, a new neighbourhood becomes filled with “For Sale: Foreclosure” signs. In one tale of woe I read about, the young wife lost her job approving mortgages. (I understand US banks were encouraging NINJA loans – approving people with No Income, No Job, No Assets.) Her young hubby lost his job at the home-building supply retailer where he drove a fork-lift moving lumber from the warehouse to the customer. The US housing bubble burst.

So now we cut down a lot fewer trees, sell many of them as logs. Tell me, how do you propose to force buyers to purchase lumber when what they want to buy is logs? Let me know, because I have a bridge I want to sell to you. And the price is FIRM.

Seriously, though, as you know, at this time of year, a very special thing happens in the Teddy Bear Rainforest. The deciduous leaves fall in many bright hues, and Cheer Bear, Funshine Bear, Tenderheart and the others slide down a rainbow from their cloud. They take the leaves and mold them and pat them, to make lightweight, waterproof jackets in many colours and sizes, as well as bicycle seats, kayaks and video cameras. And then as they laugh and dance, they sing, “No petroleum, no plastics, no problem!”

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