Saving Mr. Charlie’s Trees: War on Forests

Aliss Valerie Terrell
3 min readFeb 25


The War on Forests is real. It’s raging most fiercely in the Southeastern US, followed in scale by the Amazon, Europe and Asia.

Corporations led by the Bio-Mass industry, our favorite fast food chains, drugstore magnates, and furniture retailers, abetted by our banks, institutions and even some conservation agencies, are presenting this as justified and good for humankind, as war machines usually do. (Type “deforestation” and any of the above terms into your browser for some eye-openers).

A few brave non-violent resistance fighters like the Dogwood Alliance, NRDC and some eco-journalists are posting images of vast clearcutting in old growth forests, pellet factories and wood-burning power plants choking the air, with lines of 18 wheelers carrying felled tree trunks to acres of stacked logs.

Here in France, ancient oaks are being culled to reconstruct Notre Dame, certainly a worthy cause, since the cathedral symbolizes the heart of this land, but more disturbingly, the timber industry is riding the publicity wave with claims that wood resources are “endlessly renewable,” that cutting and replanting trees is “good for the climate.”

This is simply not supported by science. Mature forests hold far greater amounts of carbon than young seedlings. Click on the link below to watch Professor William Moomaw, co-Nobel Peace Prize laureate, lay out the facts*.

Yes, forests do grow back, as we see in France and New England, more wooded now than in the 18th and 19th centuries, respectively. But this takes many decades and we don’t have that luxury right now, with ice sheets melting, sea levels rising and extreme weather all over the globe.

Who would have ever imagined that rainy France would be in danger of devastating droughts like the one last summer? Many areas are now rationing water. Between January 21st and February 22nd of this year, there was less than 1 mm of precipitation in the entire country for 31 days. A staggering record.

My uncle, Mr. Charlie, hoped to forestall this by planting his million trees and negotiating his 1000-acre bequest to the University of Georgia. It was to be a wildlife sanctuary and a tree-farm because as he said, “Man must be served.” He knew that some trees had to be harvested to save others. The ones he planted healed the exhausted land he bought and restored, providing wood sustainably so that other forests could be left standing. It defies belief that a trusted institution, a university forestry school, would sell the property, most of it to a lumber company…

Mr. Charlie’s story is emblematic of the War on Forests.

Against all odds, brave souls are standing up to forest enemies.

I wish I could be in Atlanta next week to stand up for the Weelaunee. My form of resistance, from the other side of the world, is finishing the preview for “Saving Mr. Charlie’s Trees” and supporting those who inspire us to take action. I’ll post more details.

Meanwhile thank you for reading these updates and sharing your input. Shout out to Cliff Frost for the Atlanta convergence visuals.

*Professor Moomaw tells it like it is:

“Large trees must be preserved. They are by far the most valuable — not for lumber — but for the incredible amount of carbon they store. Just 3% of the trees — the big ones, which are over 21 inches in diameter — store a whopping 40% of the carbon. In managed forests, the replanted trees take years to effectively pull CO2 out of the air…We must save the #StrategicForestReserves and prevent the largest trees from being foolishly harvested.”

PS I awoke last night to the comforting sound of rain on the roof. It’s raining now. The rest of France is not so fortunate. We’ll need much more to replenish the aquifers.

To be continued….



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Aliss Valerie Terrell

I’ve had several lives since coming to France: grad student, singer songwriter, writer and filmmaker, marriage and mothering….