Re: A DUBIOUS PROPOSAL: Forest Giant's Rainforest Conservation Plan Is Unsupported by Scientific Data
(naturalSCIENCE Commentary of July 14, 1998)
Date: Tue, 11 Aug 1998 20:43:36 -0700
Published: Sat, 5 Dec 1998
From: Russell Davison <email@example.com>
Subject: End to old growth harvesting
An interesting article, but unfortunately you do not deal with the social and economic impact on forest workers and smaller forest based communities.
I am a forest worker who was employed in Clayoquot Sound, on the west coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia and who lost his job there. Today, forest inventories are being undertaken in the area, but there is no harvesting. For a region with a gross forested area of 340,000 hectares not to support any forest industry employment is criminal. The local community of Ucluelet has lost over 135 forest jobs, none of which have been replaced by any other type of long-term employment.
Clayoquot was suppose to be a great enviromental experiment and I feel it has failed terribly with the workers being the big losers. A five-year moratorium on logging in the old-growth is not the answer.
A Response to Russell Davison
Rural communities in British Columbia are suffering, at least in part, because of the past failure by the Provincial Government (which owns 95% of the Province's land base) to manage the Provincial forest estate on a sustainable and ecologically sound basis.
Unfortunately, in the 1980's, the Province abandoned its legislative commitment to manage forests on a sustainable yield basis. The justification given was that through appropriate investments in silviculture the Province could harvest as much timber in the future as it wanted. However, the appropriate investments to sustain the allowable cut and the quality of timber harvested have not been made. Moreover, as we argued in our commentary, the necessary research to make the most effective use of capital invested in silviculture in British Columbia has not been undertaken, and the needed studies of the ecological impacts of forestry in British Columbia, including those relating to Canada's compliance with the Kyoto treaty, have not been conducted.
That, however, is water under the bridge. The major criticism that should be leveled at the Province of British Columbia today is not that it failed in the past to prepare for the future, but that it is failing now to deal decisively with the consequences of past mismanagement. Still, in British Columbia, there is no legislative authority for the Provincial Forest Service to conduct research on key questions about the impacts of logging on biodiversity, carbon exchange with the atmosphere, and the developing wilderness tourism industry. Still, forest research conducted by the universities in British Columbia is far too strongly influenced by the agenda of forest industry corporations, most of which are multinationals with minimal head-office interest in either the welfare of B.C.'s rural communities or environmental protection.
In the past, British Columbia could do as it pleased with its forests. With the advent of global concerns about climate change and biodiversity destruction, that freedom has been lost. Today, British Columbia has to accept its responsibility as a citizen of the world, both as the custodian of a substantial part of the Earth's biological resources, and as a participant in the management of global climate. It is time for a new approach to forestry in British Columbia: one that responds both to global environmental challenges and the need to develop a stable and sustainable rural economy.