The Missing Forest
The Missing Forest
2020 - Ongoing
Shortly after moving to the Pacific Northwest, I became enamored with old growth forests. I found walking through a grove of giant old trees to be a profoundly meaningful experience. As I sought to visit more of these ancient giants, I became increasingly aware of the impact of timber harvesting across the region.
Having grown up in the Chihuahuan desert of Southeastern New Mexico, where trees rarely survive outside the built environment, I found myself particularly sensitive to the destruction of these ancient forests. I questioned the morality of cutting down a 1000-year-old living organism and reducing it to a commodity.
I fantasized about these colossal trees that were once prolific across the landscape and I longed for this missing forest. I began questioning my relationship with consumption and my impact on the environment caused by extraction industries. Furthermore, I found myself questioning our obligation, as a species, to live in harmony with the natural world.
We are currently at the precipice of what may be our greatest challenge, human caused global warming, a phenomenon exacerbated by deforestation. As nature holds us accountable, these missing giants may be a key to our preservation.
Scientists have proven that large older trees sequester more carbon at a faster rate while harboring greater biodiversity. (Read More) However, as our day of reckoning with climate change approaches, I look at the evidence of our past and I question our future.
Old-growth is defined as trees older than 200-years-old while forest degradation is defined as forest transformation or loss due to timber harvest, land development, urban expansion or fire. Old-growth data is derived from the Forest Service's 2012 Northwest Forest Plan and excludes all forest degradation data. Wildfire data consists of available records dating between the year 1835 and the end of the 2020 fire season. Forest degradation data is derived from various publicly available Geographic Information System data sets that contain records dating between the year 1900 and 2020. Data for many significant early and mid 20th century events, such as the Tillamook Burn and urban development, is unavailable and excluded from these maps.
Data compiled from: "NWFP LSOG 20 year Monitoring Old Growth Structure Index GT 200 year Old" raster map (Davis / USDA / USFS / PNWRS), "Global Forest Change 2000 - 2019" (Hansen / UMD / Google / USGS / NASA), "BLM OR Harvest Treatments" (Bureau of Land Management, Oregon State Office), "Activity Timber Harvest" (U.S. Forest Service), "Inter-agency Fire Perimeter History All Years" (USFS / BLM / BIA / FWS / NPS / AIFC / CalFire), "Current wildfire perimeters" (CalFire) and "US Historical Fire Perimeters WFL1" (GeoMAC)
These infrared photographs were created using a flash to illuminate the stumps. The "trunks" were added in the digital darkroom. Measurements were taken to ensure the "trunks" were a close representation of their actual size. The "cuts" were added using a remote controlled laser that rotated along a single axis.