Archive for August, 2012

Murder in the Forest

Saturday, August 18th, 2012

 We often hear that prophetic statement, if tree a falls in the forest and no one is around, does it make a sound? In a province based on forestry, trees fall by the hundreds, sometimes thousands every single day and there are people around, but it seems no one is listening.  There is an on going assumption of  an endless supply, wrong! There are few if any forensic reports outlining the impact on dependent communities.  Like prohibition, it is another issue seldom discussed with an eye on addressing the real problem or developing a real solution.

In 2001, a report was prepared for the B.C. Ministry of Forests called Ready for Change confirming the pending demise of our forests and what had to be done to prevent it. No action was taken, after all there were a lot more trees and jobs were at stake.

However, unlike the farmers who tend their fields, governments and forest companies seem to bleed theirs dry and move on. For some time each successive government has advanced the cutting of old growth forests, the shipping of raw logs and a reduction in secondary production. The slaughter in the forest has been staggering and combined with our surrender to the pine beetle, catastrophic.

Murder is such a harsh accusation, but in this case it seems appropriate considering this is a renewable resource, isn’t it? At least that’s what we’re told. And please know that not all the blame lies at the feet of Gordon Campbell, however only he had the assessment advising him the end was nye. Unfortunately he and his minister chose to ignore it. Again, not unique in government after all it is the economy and in the short term nothing else matters.

Ken Wu, executive director of the Ancient Forest Alliance, in a recent Vancouver Sun article (August 1, 2012) describes how the nearsighted approach of the Christy Clark’s Liberal party has been nothing more than an attempt open up protected forest reserves in response to past policy.

Someone once said Those who won’t learn from history are destined to repeat it. In this case, and in this province, repeating failure has become an art form. And in the case of our forests, this has, in fact become murder while taking down a lot of other industries with it.

And I know it’s the economy, however in nature everything is linked together. Our forest policies have pushed so much to extinction. Our coastal rivers and streams, once overflowing with spawning salmon are now sad remnants of their former glory degraded by logging debris and silt.

In the same article Mr. Wu points out, it’s not that we haven’t had the chances to learn and I quote “The pattern of resource depletion, ecosystem collapse and the ensuing unemployment has long been paralleled in our oceans where fishing down the food chain from larger to smaller species has caused successive stocks to collapse.”

Our current and historic forestry practices have followed similar patterns. Along with the massive losses in harvestable  forests, reforestation is also in decline. Oh well nature will cover that failure to. No it won’t. Almost all harvesting is through clear cuts allowing a dramatic increase in erosion, giving shrubs like blueberry bushes and alien trees like poplars to replace the Cedar and Douglas Fir trees.  All that is left in the protection of our forests is you and me. We need to stand united against the vials of greed and incompetence and that takes commitment.

To know the murder you have to see it so you can believe it. You have to believe it to make the call. And you have to know why you are making the call. The implication being, wherever you are, you have to go into the forest to see for yourself. Don’t believe me, or anyone else, go see the devastation for yourself. The forests are what this province is all about and in so many areas and so many ways they affect our health, our mental health, our physical health and our economic health. This issue involves all of us.

If you are in tourism, fishing, forestry or anything related to the natural resources of this province, or if you’re just here because you love it, now is the time to call someone who can help, someone who can make change happen. Call them today and be the change!

Without change, there will be no harvestable forest, no jobs and no economy. And if you won’t do it for yourself, do it for your children or your grandchildren, but do it today.





David Hutchison – Writer

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