Friday, July 28, 2006


Existential Friday: Sod to Vancouver Island

... or Nature as a Potemkin Village


In my sojourn to Vancouver Island last month, I was struck by the seeming oddity of a truck full sod waiting at the ferry terminal to make the trip from the mainland to Vancouver Island. Why would a place so lush and green as Vancouver Island need to import sod from the mainland?


"Sod to Vancouver Island," I thought, could be the Canadian version of "coals to Newcastle," the homespun homily referring to redundancy. Except when you think about it, the green on Vancouver Island is moss and ferns and rain forest, not lawns. The importation of lawns means real estate development.

And then there's logging. In wilderness areas in the U.S., the logging strategy is apparently to leave the landscape unspoiled near the roads, and do the heavy deforestation a bit further in where most National Park tourists won't see it. It's nature as a Potemkin Village.

Canadians don't observe such niceties. On Vancouver Island, at least, the logging activity is pretty much in plain view of the tourists. On the seaward side of the road, you've got national parkland. On the inland side of the road, it's another story. We heard that the island is currently about 75-90% logged out. Well, bring in some sod!


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