Thursday 17th April 2014

Subscription options:


Font Size:
slashpile

Mining B.C.’s forests for ruin and profitPosted: August 21, 2012

Perceptions by Gerry Warner

So the solution to the B.C. forest industry crisis is to cut more timber, according to the report of the Special Committee on Timber Supply released in Victoria this week. Who can deny now that the fox is in charge of the hen house when it comes to forest management in our once verdant province?

Oh, I know “SuperNatural B.C,” the “best place on earth” according to the current government,  is still largely green. But take a flight to Vancouver sometime and a different picture emerges. When you look out the window you don’t exactly see a sea of green like the glossy tourist brochures say. What you see is a sea of clear-cuts from one end of the province to the other. North/south, east/west, it doesn’t matter. The pock-marked landscape runs virtually from the city limits of Cranbrook to Vancouver and when you fly over Vancouver Island, it’s the same sickening scene only worse.

Not a pretty sight and it’s there for a reason.

For over 100 years, we’ve been mining – not logging – the once magnificent woods of  B.C. And when you mine a material it’s gone. You don’t get it back. It’s been the same with logging in this besotted province. What were the first trees logged shortly after Captain Vancouver sailed down the West Coast? Old growth Douglas firs that used to soar straight as an arrow more than 200 feet high at the corner of Hastings and Granville and up and down the coast.

The British Navy, then the greatest navy on earth, found those Douglas fir logs to be perfect for spars on their sailing ships and handy for building forts and stockades to keep the indigenous people at bay. And by the time steam came and sail boats were a thing of the past, those same Douglas firs were used to build homes for the settlers that flooded into Vancouver, Victoria and the rest of the province. And it also made fortunes for lumber barons like H. R. MacMillan and hundreds of others who became rich as our patrimony was ripped from the ground and used all over the province and exported around the world, especially to the U.S., which had already ravaged its timber resources and now Asia where the forests were cut eons ago.

Are you getting the picture?

We haven’t been “logging” the forest in the conventional sense of the term which implies forest stewardship to ensure there will always be trees to log. We’ve been clear-cutting almost every last tree for quick profit and letting nature take care of the future. Don’t believe me? Well consider a key report recommendation that suggests more use of “marginally economic forest types.”  Why do we have to turn to the margins of B.C.’s once great forest lands when we once possessed the greatest temperate rain forest on earth?

It can be difficult for the average layman to appreciate this because when you look out your window almost anywhere in B.C. you see trees. But most of those trees are already committed to the major timber companies in the province or not considered commercial to log.

And why have we fallen into this quicksand of forestry woe? We waste almost as much timber as we log (see picture) and this has left us in a silvicultural hole bigger than some of the open pit mines in the province.

If you want more proof look at the report’s admission that we’ve fallen so far back in recent years, in keeping forest inventory, that we can’t even make a reasonable estimate of how many trees we’ve got left. And if you’re looking to apportion blame, it’s not just the current government. It’s all provincial governments for the past hundred years that have taken a three blind mice approach to forestry.

And don’t fall for the line that we can blame it all on the pine beetle epidemic. Yes, there’s a pine beetle crisis out there, but that was a crisis largely of our own making because for years we’ve planted primarily pine in areas that were better suited for other species.

In response to the all-party report, Forests Minister Steve Thomson says he’s going to come up with an “action plan” within a week. I say to Mr. Thomson with respect that he’s dreaming in Technicolor if he thinks a solution to 100 years of abusing the forest can be found in a week.

Gerry Warner is a retired journalist who is now a City of Cranbrook councillor. His views expressed are his own and do not reflect city council in any way.

Tags:
Author:

One Response to Mining B.C.’s forests for ruin and profit

  1. Mr Warner:

    Your comment regarding the report submitted by the Special Committee on Timber Supply suggests to me that you have not only not read the report in detail but that you have recklessly woven statements made in the report with unsubstantiated musings and observations in effort to appear as a defender of the enviroment and enlightened scribe at the cost of writing about the facts. Journalistic integrity indeed.

    You take little time in beginning your assault on the facts in the opening paragraph:

    ” So the solution to the B.C. forest industry crisis is to cut more timber, according to the report of the Special Committee on Timber Supply released in Victoria this week”

    Although you do not reference which crisis you are referring to, and there are many throughout the province, the report from the Special Committee does: to examine what effect the epidemic infestation of the Mountain Pine Beetle has had on an estimated 18.1 million hectares of timber inventory and the related socio-economic impact it has had on the many communities of the central interior. And there is no “solution” to this crisis given in the report, only recommendations that are being forwarded after consultations with First Nations, forest companies, community and enviromental groups and any one else who wanted to the submit their opinion. What is immeadiately apparent to anyone who actually reads the report is the scope of the devestation the Mountain Pine Beetle has caused to the communities of the central interior, and how dependant those communities are on forestry. The report does not recommend cutting more timber as you state, but to assess and catogorize what timber remains and how it can be harvested in a manner that can sustain the families affected by the epidemic. I can only imagine how your callous disregard of the economic difficulties these families are experiencing would be received if your observations were reprinted in the newspapers Prince George or Burns Lake.

    You go on to claim that “the fox is in charge of the henhouse” with regard to forest management. I guess you can only be referring to the Special Committee whose “foxes” would include John Rustad, Chair and MLA for Nechako Lakes, the Kootenay’s own NDP MLA Norm MacDonald and Donna Barnett MLA for Cariboo-Chilcotin a riding whose communites have been hollowed out by the Mountain Pine Beetle and have experienced decades of economic decline.

    You claim that: “We’ve been clear-cutting almost every last tree for quick profit and letting nature take care of the future”, continuing :”Don’t believe me? Well consider a key report recommendation that suggests more use of “marginally economic forest types.” Why do we have to turn to the margins of B.C.’s once great forest lands when we once possessed the greatest temperate rain forest on earth?” I don’t believe you Mr Warner, and further to that I state unequivocally that this in fact evidence of your intentional misuse of the report to manufacture an argument that is completely contrived in your head and unsubstatiated by the very facts you present. The use of the term” marginally economic forest types” is clearly defined in the glossary of terms in the report and the report clearly states that the harvest of this resource is recommended as a way to increase the mid-term timber supply so that mills can continue to employ their workers and feed the families of communities of the central interior. According to the report the pine beetle infestation has lead to a 20% overall reduction in the timber supply, based on pre-infestaion levels, a shortage large enough to shut down approximately eight sawmills. The recommended use of “marginal” timber is suggested to offset the effect of pine beetle infestation not rainforest destruction and your claim is a complete and intentional misrepresentation of what the report contains.

    Mr Warner you are entitled to your opinion, however, I would respectfully suggest that your opinion will hold less value with those who choose to contrast your words with the words contained within the pages of the “Growing Fibre, Growing Value” report submiited by the Special Committee on Timber Supply. I further suggest that your column is nothing more than a poor attempt to pander to your imagined audience and an embarrasment to those of us that must endure your misguided, partizan posturing.

    Ken Dunsire

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


More Stories

sd5

SD5 board notes

> Read More
Cranbrook Pride Poster - Outlined

Rainbow Pride coming to Cranbrook

> Read More
Elk River

Elk Valley Water Quality Plan update

> Read More
BofMFeb2

Bank of Montreal supports United Way

> Read More
CVRCMP RptLead

Dodgy Facebook transaction needs resolution or else

> Read More
Wildsightwater

Wildsight presents Watermark and Ktunaxa water perspectives

> Read More
BearAware

Funding supports wildlife conflict prevention program

> Read More
DutchCrkFlooding13

Still time to do flood/landslide service survey

> Read More