While this pandemic has been ramping up, I have not lost my focus on the issue of funding forests. In fact, for the last several months I have been working to form a non-profit organization, called Our Forest Fund, to raise funds to buy timber rights from logging companies to save trees for the community.
Along with my friends Kim and Lynn, we have started Our Forest Fund’s first campaign to save the trees in our local county park. We all share a common abhorrence of clearcutting, and we love forests. We were spurred into action by the ghastly logging of the Port Gamble Forest Heritage Park, which we all visit frequently. (In fact, a random chunk of it abuts my property.)
Lynn has been involved since 2007 in the fundraising efforts to buy the park land, and now she is all in to preserve the trees in the park. Because she was part of that project, she is less daunted by the enormous sum we are trying to raise. We need $500,000 just for Rayonier, the timber company, to talk to us.
Who Is Spared The Ax?
We walked the park with Arno the county forester, to learn about the ages and harvest statuses of the many forest tracts which comprise the park. And about the topography and ecology of the trees. We wanted to have priorities about how to decide which tracts to save.
Do we save the oldest trees, because they save the most carbon and have the most well-developed mycorrhiza? They will cost the most, but they are the mothers of the forest.
Or do we go for younger trees, because they will cost less and so we can get more for our money?
What areas will the timber company be unable to log anyway, because they are protected wetlands, so we can assume they are safe?
Can we offer to pay the difference between thinning the forest and a clearcut, thereby making our funds go further?
These and other factors make it a very complex decision.
Decision: No Decision
I finally stopped and declared, “I want to save it all.” We all agreed that our minimum, immediate goal would be half a million dollars, because that is what we need for the timber company to deal with us. But our ultimate goal is for the many millions to buy all the trees. “In for a penny, in for a pound”, as they say.
It’s a LOT of money. In the middle of a pandemic and associated economic downturn, no less. So “ambitious”, it’s almost laughable. But in some ways, it may be easier, because we can hopefully appeal to major donors, corporate donors, carbon offset schemes, etc. These sources of forest funding might not be interested in a more modest project.
This is not to minimize the importance of individual, small donations — big donors gauge public buy-in as a measure of how important an issue or project is. Many trees make a forest.
Please visit ourforestfund.org. I’ve been working my tail off to get it finished in time for year-end tax-deductible donations. Please sign up for updates, and consider donating, if you are so moved.
And tell your friends about the project. It’s all one planet, one ecosystem, so saving trees anywhere helps us all.