This blog will look at environmental and political issues that will affect the quality of life for future generations of all species. Including; sustainability, media labels of "environmental issues," and different kinds of resistance to environmental oppression. I will also post on anything I think someone interested in the aforementioned would be interested in...

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Tree Industry

I was reading a really good provincial election article and came across a really good bit of information on clearcutting...
Remember, the sask-election relevant issue is that the Sask party would, ideologically sell off crown control of forestry to profit-motivated private interest (rather than public-motivated ideal democratic [not NDP] government)...

Being a treeplanter for two seasons now, I know that most of us (treeplanters) have a treeplanting philosophy... we see ourselves as environmental activists... I'll share my philosophy... which is based on my own experiences, as well as many late-night fireside chats with other planters.. especially the old crazy ones.
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We are saddened by the clearcutting of old growth forests, but see ourselves as medics... [in the words of Brad, leader of Brad's camp] the "red cross" of the lumber mill's war against the forest. The damage has already been done. Because of the trees we are planting, there will hopefully be less old-growth forests cut down in the future...

...some of us more idealistics even hope that by the time the trees we planted are ready to be cut down, our society will have evolved past it's short-sighted hunger for profits at very high ecological cost.... (why not grow Hemp? you get a crop every year instead of one every 50)...

we're all terrified of pesticides... and here horrendous stories of early 80's treeplanters becoming sterile or having organs growing to suddenly unnaturally large proportions...
the only time I have ever had to plant trees with pesticides, was for weyerhaeuser, in their last year of operating in Saskatchewan (2006)...


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The forestry industry in Canada (dominated by sawmill corporations) is undergoing radical change...

check out this article, where a lumber mill in BC are selling their logging land for real estate development, because it's much more profitable than clearcutting it!
... this has created tension between the mill worker's union and the corporation...
I hate to see labour and the environment fighting so much... lets get these guys jobs in the renewable sector!
(I tried to link to the union news story, but they wanted me to register my personal info, so I linked to the corporate press release)


Weyerhaeuser, a lumber/paper mill corporation (as mentioned in the forthcoming article... and spelled much more phonically) just closed down all their mills and opperations in Saskatchewan... they've moved on to third world countries where there are less (or NO) environmental regulations... even going as far as to clearcut rainforest, replant with Eucalyptos trees (which can be harvested every 7 or so years), and get as many 'crops' as they can before the oppressed and misplaced indigenous people revolt, or the (formally) most biodiverse ecosystem on the planet is transformed into non-arable desert...

According to the wiki article, weyerhaeuser is the 42nd most pollutin' corporation in the United States, releasing roughly 18 million pounds of toxic chemicals annually into the air.[5] They also have 18 'known' toxic waste sites. Major pollutants indicated by the study include formaldehyde, sulfuric acid, acetaldehyde, manganese compounds, and chlorine dioxide

That number does not include weyerhaeuser's multi-national operations, nor does it take into consideration the ecological impact of the vast destruction of biodiversity and tree-life
(easily adding more pollutants indirectly than 'statistically')



Clear Cut Logging?
Written by woodenship on 2007-10-23 11:43:44
It was mentioned in this article that the NDP supports Warehouser[sic] and therefore clear cutting. Although I am an extreme critic of large-breed forestry and most notably of companies like Warehouser, I am often frustrated by the lack of knowledge surrounding the "clear cutting" issue.

Firstly let me state that clear cutting is almost completely warrantless when cutting "old growth" forests. By the time forest reach old growth (if they reach old growth - many don't naturally) they have reached equilibrium. Save for wildlife management activities and for widespread disease, clear cutting old growth is often a poor choice that favours profits over ecology.

That being said, there is often cases where clear cutting (or its alternative - letting it burn) can be the best and preferred option, ecologically. Alternatively, I have seen many "selective cutting" operations where the forest has been left in a much worse state, as they leave behind damaged trees, ground that is difficult to remediate, and poor growing/planting conditions for the next generation of trees.

Forests exist in a variety of "disturbance states". It is crucial that some stands be completely obliterated by fire once every 100 years or so (varies greatly depending on water and nutrient conditions). This is natural. It will promote nutrient cycling, encourage certain types of growth and provide a habitat for animal species that cannot exist in mature timber. Clear cutting is often the best option for managing mature (but not old growth) stands that should naturally have infrequent high-intensity fires. Without proper disturbance management activities, can be a danger to themselves and the stands and communities surrounding them.

The government and the public should not be so concerned with the evil sounding "clear cutting" and should alternately be focused more with promoting and enforcing viable and ecological solutions (whether that is selective cutting, mixed bag, or clear cutting aka stand replacing). The key point is the enforcement of ecological values and not focusing on the clear cut (one of many tools in the tool kit). Clear cutting is often used as a demon head to put upon the out-of control industry (à la Muslim to fundamentalist terrorism). Improper ecological management is improper forestry; clear cutting is not improper forestry.

As a forest ecologist, one gets to observe the forest on a micro-stand level and see that a stand of trees is really comprised of many smaller patches that require special considerations and unique prescriptions. We must look at what the forest would naturally do to manage itself (often fire) and look at emulating that through controlled burns, stand replacement, selective logging, understory thinning etc....

Look to support the regulated and scientific government controlled management of our crown lands. Large corps will use the bottom line to justify poor ecological practice. Governments need to use their bottom line (long term ecological costs) to enforce a more detailed, regulated and intelligent approach to wild and management. I have but scraped the surface on this issue, but hope to open people up to the fact that criticising clear cutting is mute and inexact in relation to the issues. Improper use is destructive, proper use is constructive. Forests are complex and forest / human cohabitation requires the use of many different tools to promote the health of forests and the communities they support.

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... okay, I mostly posted this so I could use [sic] for the first time!

10 comments:

Saskboy said...

Hi,
I saw your bit in the Carillon about big oil, and thought it was pretty insightful. I was with you up until you suggested that RPIRG was doing something to hold the University accountable. What exactly would that be?

I haven't seen any activity from RPIRG, not a website, or announcement of the draw they promised for middle of October. Do you have information about when those simple tasks will be completed?

Trees for our children... said...

Hi back,

what I meant, was that a new working group is in progress in regards to the issue of university accountability... we hope to get some funding from the RPIRG... firstly, to create awareness of our group and the (university accountability) issues our members see as relevant... and with aspirations of (next semester) holding a conference that determines what the purpose of the university experience truly is...

The RPIRG is only as good as the student-members who use it... it is a vehicle for positive social and environmental change... less specifically, anything a student believes is in the public interest. (and as approved by the soon-to-be-elected board)...

I understand your concerns that RPIRG is behind on some of it's structural plans... but so far it is being run on the blood and sweat of volunteers (with a part-time coordinator who volunteers more than twice as much as he legitimately works)...

Once an executive board is in place (of which I am seeking nomination for), things will start moving along more smoothly.

Trees for our children... said...

... no one said social change is easy

Saskboy said...

Why wasn't this RPIRG dealt with before it started collecting $5 from every student? Isn't it unfair for that money to be sitting unused, and me unpaid (so far, with the due date coming in 4 days)? I reserved the rpirg.ca website address so someone unfriendly couldn't come along and set up a porn site on the domain name the organization advertised in the media, and published in the URSU day planner months ago?

And is it ethical to delay a draw date, when people took the time to enter, and have been told that their entry's chances will diminish through no fault of their own? That's horrible PR.

Since you'll probably end up in charge, it's only fair to let you know that you'll have these questions to answer then if you don't address them and deal with them properly now.

Trees for our children... said...

I'm sure RPIRG is doing their best.

Thankfully out of 15,000 students, no one else I've heard of subscribes to your corporate notion of "public relations."

The vast majority of students (from what I've heard, all but you)
are happy with what we've been doing, and what we can empower students to do themselves in the future.

so far those who've been involved are mostly university students busy with life and classes... volunteering countless hours for something they think will change the campus, community, and world...

if you don't like how they're operating... then stop whining, go to a meeting, and get involved yourself.

is it ethical to take advantage of a fledgling new student group, which is trying to organize it's funding officially, by sending a threatening email and then squatting their website?
(FYI, I am under the impression, that legally, RPIRG could have sued for naming rights if a sleazy profit-motivated porn site tried to take advantage of our situation... but thankfuly, no corporation was that 'unethical.')

peace, love, solidarity
Billy

P.S. hold on to your "free hug" coupon until I'm on the board.

... if you'd googled RPIRG, you'd have seen the temporary site from the early days of the student movement
www.myspace.com/spirg

Saskboy said...

Are you suggesting I'm acting unethically by reserving the rpirg.ca name and charging not a penny more for it than it would cost the organization to register it themselves, either today, or months ago like it should have?

Are you suggesting I sent a threatening email?

What is the "corporate notion of public relations"? It's not a corporate concept to treat interested parties with respect and to act on your word, which arguably RPIRG is failing at in the contest draw situation.

"if you don't like how they're operating... then stop whining, go to a meeting, and get involved yourself."
I understand why you're defensive, but consider this; I'm not whining. I'm letting you know up front my problems with RPIRG, and the solutions to fix them. Either you value my input, or you don't. If I can't accomplish that one-on-one by email/blog, then why would I bother to attend a meeting in order to be ganged up on by more defensive people?

Saskboy said...

I have questions I need an answer to, both here and at rpirg.ca
Please email back the answers, or let me know if you post them.
I'll write rpirg's email too.

Trees for our children... said...

Q: Are you suggesting I'm acting unethically by reserving the rpirg.ca name and charging not a penny more for it than it would cost the organization to register it themselves, either today, or months ago like it should have?

A: It was you who brought up the issue of ethicity... I merely attempted to use satire to critique this label as completely arbitrary.

Q: Are you suggesting I sent a threatening email?

A: No. At an RPIRG summer meeting, I recall hearing that someone had "warned" RPIRG that although we claimed the domain name, we did not have a page on it yet, and that we'd better act before someone took advantage of us. At the time, we did not have the funding, resources, or information to pay for reserving a web page (and we had not payed for the advertisment yet that had listed it).

Q: What is the "corporate notion of public relations"? It's not a corporate concept to treat interested parties with respect and to act on your word, which arguably RPIRG is failing at in the contest draw situation.

A: I guess when I said "corporate notion of public relations"... I was more frustrated at the current modeling of the university as a corporation rather than an institute of higher learning that prepares people to serve their communities... including the corporatization of the student's union... focusing on profit first and such.... regardless of what else a (for example) "donating" corporation represents (like Shell's computer science scholarship/grad-placement exclusivity and Shell's human rights abuse record)...

Q: Why would I bother to attend a meeting in order to be ganged up on by more defensive people?

A: Because you wouldnt be ganged up on by more defensive people... and I think attending a meeting would be a better method of expressing your concerns then here on my personal blog

... if you wish to continue this discussion, please do so by emailing me...

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