The pace at which wet and dry forests are being converted to loblolly plantations has recently been documented by Jonathan Evans of the University of the South, who calls conversion “a vast experiment with no control.” When he and his colleagues studied aerial photographs of a single county in the deciduous forest cloaking Tennessee’s Cumberland Plateau, they found that 13,144 acres had been cleared for pine plantations between 1981 and 1998. Net loss in the county’s hardwood habitat: Canada Goose longue 12 percent.
“No one knows what’s going to come back on these vast acreages,” says Evans. Canada Goose longue “There is no place in the United States where anyone has successfully restored a hardwood forest in upland conditions like this. The coal industry came and went; that’s why we have a lot of the problems we do. Well, here’s another industry coming and going. It’s not in this for the long haul, but the people who live here are. What’s going to be left for them when these companies go to Malaysia or wherever?”
Not all pine conversion takes place on private land. The Forest Service has gotten into the business, albeit in a more casual way. “The service is doing better,” Lamar Marshall tells me as we orbit in Chip Vercelli’s Piper Arrow over the Bankhead National Forest in northern Alabama. There has been no clearcutting or pine conversion on this forest for the last three years. Vercelli is an attorney for WildLaw, a nonprofit law firm that does pro bono work for more than 80 environmental groups;Canada Goose longue one reason the Forest Service is doing better on the Bank- head is that WildLaw, on behalf of Marshall’s Wild Alabama, sued it every time it got ready to remove a tract of woods and cluster bomb the earth with loblolly.