I had the honor of learning from Merv and Anne Wilkinson. They are an inspiration on how to walk softly and live simply.
The sign on the Douglas fir tree reads “Douglas Fir, seedling 190 A.D., 1300(?) years old when Columbus sailed, 1677 years old at Canadian confederation, 1800 years old in 1990.” This is one of hundreds of trees that were part of his woodlot.
When he was 30 some years old he bought 100+ acres from Macmillan Bloedel, the large clear-cut forestry corporation that ‘owned’ most of the titles in the part of Vancouver island where Merv was living. It was a mature old growth forest of fir, cedar, spruce, and hemlock. The local foresters suggested Merv clear the woodlot, sell the timber to the mill, and replant with seedlings. This didn’t make much sense to Merv as he wanted to live there as well as work there, and he wanted to live in the forest.
Merv decided to attend the University of British Columbia’s forestry program long enough to figure out how to measure the basal metabolic rate (BMR)(how much timber grows each year in a defined area). He then returned to his woodlot and did the calculations. He decided to cut 80-90% of the BMR each year and to leave 10-20% “in the bank” to accumulate “interest.”
He didn’t make as much money as the clear-cut loggers, but he lived a life full of a richness that I could not even imagine until I set foot onto his woodlot and met him and Anne.
He passed away at 97.
May you rest in peace Merv.
Thank you for inspiring me to protect our forests and work with wood with the respect.