In the late 1800s, Louisiana had over 9 million acres of longleaf pine forest. Twenty-five years later, most of it was gone. In it’s place, 5 and a half million acres of stumps.
Nationwide, 90 million acres of longleaf forest was virtually wiped out during the same period. Today, just 2 million acres remain and of that, less than a half percent are “old growth,” that is, trees that were never cut and replanted.
Along with the trees, almost 600 species of plants and animals dependent on the unique longleaf ecosystem were thrown into chaos. Today about half of those species are considered rare, about 100 are “at risk,” and 30 are already “threatened or endangered.”
Why? Indiscriminate, clear-cut lumbering practices in the hands of an industry greedy for tall, straight, strong, rot and insect resistant wood to build a burgeoning nation.
This pattern has been repeated frequently throughout human history. We are creatures of notoriously myopic vision, situated within a creation characterized by supereons of interconnectedness. We destroy, figure out what we are destroying only when it is almost too late, then must invest heavily in helping creation recover, knowing that recovery will never completely restore what was lost.
Nevertheless, restore we must, not only for the sake of the trees and other creatures, but for our own. For we, too, are interconnected. We are part and parcel of the first incarnation.