Bibliography Dec 99

"Liquidation of all old growth primary forest has been explicit government policy in British Columbia since 1945."

Janet Abramovitz Worldwatch Institute

Access to forest science and history literature is getting easier. The debate about the paradigm change from sustained yield, commodity production management, to ecosystem-based management has spread from forestry journals to magazines and newspapers. But paradoxically the general public refuses to wake up to the continuing business as usual degradation of forests.

Foresters, industry executives, forest and environment industry beaurocrats and politicians now talk familiarly about partial retention, landscape planning and FENS, but ecological criteria are if anything less important versus economic criteria in forest management as global trading wars force society to value efficiency and access to markets in the present far more then discounted "slow motion catastrophes" in our children’s future.

THE POLITICS OF ECOSYSTEM MANAGEMENT (Island Press) by Hanna Cortner and Margaret Moote indicts maximum sustained yield as the natural resource paradigm of the 20th century but quite rightly observes that ecosystem management has not yet been established as the paradigm for the next century. Natural resource management remains a cell of an economy and politics based upon ever expanding growth.

"The primary goal of resource management - sustained yield - evolved from the utilitarian values of the Progressive Era. Intuitively, sustained yield is a logical and laudable goal: no more is taken than can be replenished. As it has come to be implemented, however, the concept of sustained yield has been modified to mean taking the maximum supply a system can withstand (i.e., the furthest point to which production can be pushed without impairment of the resource’s ability to reproduce). One of our colleagues calls this ‘management at the edge of harm’."

The Politics Of Ecosystem Management Hanna Cortner and Margaret A. Moote

Janet Abramovitz looks at the changing paradigm of forestry globally in the Worldwatch paper TAKING A STAND: Cultivating a New Relationship with the World’s Forests. Ms. Abramovitz echoes Cortner and Moote in pointing out that there is no lack of understanding about the history and causes of forest degradation - the problem is the intransigence of managers and legislators whose decision making regarding forests remains production orientated in a world where economics always trumps sustainability in the future.

TIMBER SUPPLY IN CANADA was a conference held in Kananaskis country in 1994. After introductory papers by venerable members of the dominant timber advocacy coalition, there are very informative province by province analysis of timber planning and AAC determination. The CORTEX Consultants, Doug Williams and Jordan Tanz paper on B.C.’s AAC determination and Jim Cooperman’s paper on the ecological problems of realizing volume based AAC’s when they are translated to a spatial landscape context are highlights of a very informative look at forest planning in Canada.

Allan McQuillan teaches at the University of Montana’s School of Forestry. His many papers and articles always yield fresh insights into sustained yield and the evolution or lack of evolution to an ecologically sustainable forestry. His Jan 94 Journal of Forestry article National Public Tree Farms looks at MUSY in the real world of financial rotations on private land, increasing recreation and spiritual values demands of public forests from increasingly urban Americans, and the difficulties of satisfying everybody’s demands in ecosystem management.

New bibliography tools such as the periodical databases JSTOR and EBSCOhost allow activists a new window into the segmented specialist literature of forest science, history and governance. Type in sustained yield or MUSY and a Boolean search of thousands of hitherto cloistered periodicals yields diverse and fresh insights into managing for commodities. Many influential academics including Mr. McQuillan have put up papers on the Net and paradigm change in science and governance is being speeded up by this new synthesis of information and unifying perspectives.

" This was because no one before or during the "planning decade" (that began in 1976), at least no one I know within the forestry profession, seriously considered old growth forests as possessing any redeeming features outside of the preserves known as national parks or designated wilderness areas. Further, forestry viewed as "over-mature" any tree that was beyond "culmination of mean annual increment" or maximum average rate of growth -- the floral equivalent of faunal veal. In practical terms in the Pacific Northwest (where the preponderance of old-growth forests remained), this meant the demise of physiologically mature trees -- trees that can reach diameters exceeding ten feet (3 m) at ages exceeding 300 years, and their replacement by a regulated forest where most trees would not exceed two feet (0.6 m) at rotation ages of 50 to 100 years, and most of the forest would be stocked with juvenile trees most of the time.

"Almost overnight it seemed, sustained high-level timber production as a correlate of the perfectly regulated forest vanished as the ideal. It had dawned on a hitherto unsuspecting public that "sustained yield" of forest production did not equate to a sustained stock of "forests" as the American public had come to know and love them. Indeed, the terms were polar opposites, since, as every forester knew from school, a high-level perpetual (sustained) yield was obtained only when the old growth was at last converted to vigorous and usually homogeneous stands of young timber. Perhaps not surprisingly when viewed historically, the forestry profession had provided the public with no warning that sustained yield (a popularly-accepted term) implied the demise of what came to be known as "ancient forests"."

Allan McQuillan from Cabbages and Kings

Enlightened searching in databases and the net will turn up new incremental evidence of problems with sustained yield. The symbiotic relationship between ‘weed trees’ such as Aspen and preferred timber species is just one of the new discoveries that are adding to the critique of timber management begun by Chris Maser’s discovery of timber management ignorance of the importance of mycorrhizae, rodents and owls.

(Glen Barry's EcoPortal -"The purpose of the Eco-Portal is to provide an Environmental Internet Search Space composed of top quality information useful for citizen environmentalists.  The site is dedicated to making the Internet useful for the pursuit of Ecological Sustainability, and more than a Home Shopping experience" - is a very useful search engine for enviros and his Forest Conservation Archives has been a superb connecting network for forest activists for years.)

Rapid development of remote sensing and GIS frameworks for mapping are also making the legacy of redesigning forests for a flow of commodities increasingly visible. Soon ecological economics frameworks for valuing ecosystem services combined with remote sensing monitoring capability will quantify economic losses from liquidating old growth.

The tried and true historical middens of financial and planning records and correspondence between industry executives and legislators are still being mined by historians, but increasingly historical and social science research share an ecological perspective. CLEARCUTTING THE PACIFIC RAINFOREST (UBC Press) by B.C. historian Richard Rajala looks at the historical development of industrial forestry in the Douglas Fir ecosystems in Oregon, Washington and British Columbia. Mr. Rajala’s Neo-Marxist focus is mechanization, Taylorism and increasing managerial complexity, but the development of logging techniques in difficult terrain and the resulting almost biological evolution of industry structure and its co-evolutionary effects on the Douglas Fir ecosystems makes for very rewarding reading. Mr. Rajala makes a strong case that management and legislative frameworks such as sustained yield FOLLOW and are subservient to technological change in resource exploitation. Governments take their marching orders from dominant advocacy coalitions built around the needs of capital.

Mr. Rajala’s disturbing book is a must read for activists working for ecosystem sustainability. His hard work in examining the historical development of industrial forestry in the Pacific North West combined with the Lertzman, Rayner, Wilson examination of learning and decision making in forestry in B.C., and Cortner and Moote’s look at the politics of resource management evolution in the States today suggests that ecosystem-based forest management must await fundamental change in global economic frameworks.

Patricia Marchak is a highly respected B.C. academic. Her social science based examination of forestry in GREEN GOLD: The Forest Industry in B.C. and LOGGING THE GLOBE are required reading for anybody who wants to understand forestry in B.C. Ms. Marchak, aided by planning specialist Scott Aycock and ecological economist Deborah Herbert, has just published a stunning look at needed change in forest policy in B.C. in her David Suzuki Foundation/Ecotrust Canada report FALLDOWN.

Ms. Marchak carefully scopes out the forest policy basis of present resource tenure in B.C., the state of B.C. forests, and the industry based upon this SY tenure in these exploited forests. She contrasts differing proposals for reforming policy given the problems of decades of highgrading and overcutting and the bloated industry capacity based upon inflated harvesting projections promised by sustained yield management. Ms. Marchak then delivers a timely series of recommendations for a policy change to an ecocentric forestry.

"We are not facing a choice between ecology and economics. If we do not reduce our assault on the forests, there will be no economic returns in the not too distant future. We have to save the ecological systems and enable them to return to a healthy condition so that there can be a small but viable forest industry for our children and their children."

Patricia Marchak FALLDOWN

Ms. Marchak joins enviro activists in proposing the Clayoquot Scientific Panel forestry as a template for an ecocentric forestry framework for all B.C. forests. FALLDOWN pulls no punches in reaffirming that CSP forestry would reduce harvest volumes by an estimated 70% for coastal B.C. Since survival of the presently constituted industry is of paramount economic and political importance, FALLDOWN’s ecological sustainability message has been greeted by stony silence. The present industry may be ecologically and economically unsustainable, but given societal preoccupation with short term success in increasingly difficult global forestry markets, wisdom is considered less valuable than quarterly reports. B.C. will continue into the sixth decade of the liquidation-conversion project.

(Wade Davis’ Forward to FALLDOWN totally demolishes the mindset and the on the ground practice of sustained yield. He remembers learning the ideology of liquidating ‘over-mature and decadent’ forests as a student and the reality of greed and degradation as a young forest worker on the Queen Charlottes and bears witness to the legacy of this commodity production forestry for all of us who live beside the clearcuts. Mr. Davis’ eloquent combination of the academic and the personal offers the truth as hope for change.)

THE WEALTH OF FORESTS (UBC Press), edited by Chris Tollefson, is a selection of essays from a 1995 symposium which had the goal of innovative policy options for the protection of forest resources. There are four superb essays examining structural instruments, institutional reform, certification, and other approaches to ecoforestry from UVIC’s Eco-Research Chair trio of Michael M’Gonigle, Cheri Burda and Fred Gale, but the must-read highlight is an essay on sustained yield by Lois Dellert. A former Deputy Chief Forester of B.C., Ms. Dellert combines history and emerging systems science in a crushing condemnation of redesigning forests for timber sustainability. In only one of many memorable passages she uses C.S. "Buzz" Holling’s stability - resilience concept to show how management to simplify forests has led to ecological, social and economic rigidity - a lack of options and opportunity - the very opposite of the sustainability that sustained yield promoters Orchard and Sloan promised way back in the 1940’s.

"The reordering of the chaotic and inefficient natural forest to create a sustained yield normal forest with evenly distributed ages producing timber on a crop rotation basis required a great deal of managerial control. The structure of the forest was controlled by regulating the annual cut; decision-making was controlled by transferring the authority for setting the rate of harvest to the Chief Forester; and industry was controlled by tenure and pricing policies that all but eliminated competition and favored a few large integrated companies (Marchak1983). The outcome has been the evolution of highly rigid ecological, political and economic systems. These systems have lost their resilience or capacity to absorb change."

Lois Dellert The Wealth of Forests

The historical and scientific argument against continuing SY management is overwhelming but policy making is still controlled by the dominant timber advocacy coalition and being competitive in global markets trumps ecological and economic sustainability. As Michael M’Gonigle points out in another of his always illuminating essays from THE WEALTH OF FORESTS: "(E)xisting power determines acceptable knowledge. This is the true challenge of sustainability."

Forest policy co-evolves within a complex ecosystem of actors and institutions. Forest policies are path dependent and, with accumulating sunk costs, policy paths chosen many decades ago may become the only path possible.

Why is the forest industry in decline? Why is the war in the woods still continuing, now in the Great Bear Rainforest - Aren’t environmentalists ever going to be satisfied? Why is there still such fear and uncertainty in forestry dependent towns in B.C.’s hinterland? Why are governments in Victoria incapable of solving the problems that plague B.C.’s forest sector?

TALK AND LOG: Wilderness Politics in B.C. 65-96, Jeremy Wilson’s impressive history of forest policy over the last three decades, provides a very disturbing answer: Five decades ago, just after the Second World War, B.C. chose a forest policy path that promised both an expanding forest industry and a sustainable future. The sustainable future was an illusion, but the investment of time, money and family futures in the expanding industry, the ‘sunk costs’ in machinery and mills, and in businesses and subdivisions in forestry towns, keeps us upon that path chosen so many years ago.

Jeremy Wilson is a political scientist and his primary gift to the citizens of B.C. in this forest policy history is his insight into the policy process. His descriptions of Socred and NDP governments is incisive. His story of the developing environmental movement is full of heroines and heroes from Cypress Bowl to Clayoquot Sound. But the real gift he brings is the political science framework explaining the liquidation-conversion social trap - Why governments have so little room to change or escape the policy path laid down by previous governments.

Path dependency and lock-in are terms normally associated with the QWERTY keyboard or Betamax technology, but their use in describing prescriptive planning such as SY and in resource policy formation in general is an opportunity to confront this Gordian knot of paradigm change.

"At it’s core, though, this is a story of attempts by political and economic elites to contain a movement that challenges assumptions and practices deeply embedded in the forest economy’s history. The environmental movement calls into question an economic culture premised on drawing down inherited natural resource capital. By arguing that the province’s forests should be seen as something more than a stockpile of wealth to be used by the people of the province, environmentalists challenge the province’s long dependence on old growth liquidation. In so doing, they most threaten those who perceive their economic futures to depend directly on continued liquidation of forest wealth."

Jeremy Wilson Talk And Log


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