A Tribute to Our Lost Heritage
Requiem for the Forest Giants is a short video paying tribute to the lost heritage of the ancient redwoods cut down in the clear cutting frenzy of the 1960s.
Over the years since 1987, working in the Harvey Richards Media Archive, I have felt moved, almost haunted, by my father’s forestry images and films. With global warming now in full swing, forests and whole towns are burning down around us in the excessive summer heat and dryness, forcing us to flee the choking air that covers the cities up and down the west coast. The prophetic nature of these images in Requiem for the Forest Giants of the destruction of the western forests has become crystal clear. Giant redwoods were cut down and stacked in immense cold decks in lumber yards waiting to be sawed up into lumber for our suburban sprawl. Now gone, the redwood giants were laying like corpses in a grave, a tragic record of our foolishness and greed. What has taken the place of these ancient trees is a planet in trouble. These images of the deforestation of the west coast show how it happened.
Harvey’s work as a photographer began when he found a way to help movements and causes that were close to his heart. From the 1950s until through the 1960s, he focused on labor, civil rights and peace. As time went on, he turned with increasing frequency to his forestry photography. Back then, it didn’t seem to have the urgency of war and the battles in the streets. Yet in retrospect, it had greater urgency than most of us realized. Images of reckless logging and the gutting of forest ecosystems that took millenniums to create now serve as a chilling call to action, a demand to stop the wrecking of our natural environment.