Environmental Woes of Tierra del Fuego -- Forest Exploitation
A tree marked for section borders and road building stands on the edge of healthy beech forest on Trillium/Savia land in Tierra del Fuego. Many of the archipelago's outwardly-healthy trees hide rotten cores that make them unusable as timber. "You're not going to be able to tell whether there's any use to the timber or not until after you felled them, because so many of them are going to be rotten inside," notes biologist Matt Robson. Environmentalists hope ecotourism and potential sales of carbon credits could bring the region more benefit than cutting ancient trees Charles Darwin may have passed in the 1830s.
"So thick was the wood that it is necessary to have constant recourse to a compass; for every landmark, though in a mountainous country, was completely shut out," Darwin wrote in his journal. "In the valleys it was scarcely possible to crawl along, they were so completely barricaded by the great mouldering trunks, which had fallen down in every direction," he added. "When passing over these natural bridges, one's course was often arrested by sinking knee deep into the rotten wood; at other times, when attempting to lean against a firm tree, one was startled by finding a mass of decayed matter ready to fall at the slightest touch."
- © Kevin Moloney, 2000
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- 4. Deforestation