July 9, 2009

“This is my best memory of Canada – I’m riding in a Dodge truck, it’s raining, and I’m eating ice cream,” said our daughter-in-law from Switzerland as she was enjoying a cool rainy day in Westlock, Alta.

We’re just happy it’s raining! It’s actually raining enough to make a real difference to the crops.

Funny how everything looks better right after a rain – the cereal crops stand taller, the broccoli in my garden stretches its broad leaves and the grass seems to have grown overnight.

Young spruce trees struggle to get established on a field in Cecil Lake, B.C., near the end of June, 2009. (Photo by Marianne Stamm)

Young spruce trees struggle to get established on a field in Cecil Lake, B.C., near the end of June, 2009. (Photo by Marianne Stamm)

I talked about carbon credit issues with farmers in Cecil Lake, B.C. One young farmer, Martin Leuenberger, farms beside a quarter of open land that was planted to spruce trees last year. He put a bid in for the land too, but the owner sold it to a European company that bought a total of 16 quarters to plant trees on.

What makes many farmers irate is that the company would only buy wide open quarters, which are usually also the best farming land.

Just a few miles down from the newly-treed quarter, we saw dark smoke billowing into the sky. As we got closer, we saw someone was burning piled trees.  Someone plants, another clears. I guess it all evens out in the end.

Bruno Osterwalder thinks that there’s a lot of wishful thinking and misinformation out there about carbon offsets. But he also thinks that it’s not such a bad thing to replant some trees.

“I think in this country here (northern B.C., Peace Country) we have removed way too many trees to keep up the water and moisture conditions,” he said. “I said this 25 to 30 years ago at a meeting – there should be a mandate to keep 10 per cent of a quarter (of land) in trees. I was just about laughed out of the meeting.”

A farmer clears out a tree line down the road. (Photo by Marianne Stamm)

A farmer clears out a tree line down the road. (Photo by Marianne Stamm)

He was just way ahead of his time. But I still see many discrepancies between even those who really do want to do the best thing for our world.

Some say we don’t have enough food to feed the world, so we shouldn’t be planting trees on fertile quarters. Others say that we are messing up the climate by clearing trees. Others clear trees for charcoal so people can cook, as in Zambia.

If they had power, they wouldn’t need charcoal, which is a whole other topic.

The more I think, talk and read about this topic, the more confused I get!

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