BC's Timber Supply Report Shows How Short-Term Thinking Creates a Reverse Robin Hood Effect

This week's report to the BC Legislature by the Special Committee on Timber Supply ironically titled 'Growing Fibre, Growing Value' concludes what you'd expect a committee of 'professional foresters', politicians and assorted bureaucrats' report to conclude. In part it says that at least 12,000 more jobs will be lost in the central and northern BC forest districts in the coming decade due to the destruction wrought by the pine beetle infestation. What it fails to mention is legion, including the fact that 35,000 jobs have already been lost in those areas just since the Liberals took over the steering of BC's banana republic style government.

Among the legion of reasons are the professional foresters themselves including the whats and whys of the 'education' they received in advance of becoming.professionals. Of course, they are only a fraction of central BC's overall forestry fiasco, they're joined by the capitalists and bankers who finance them, the unions who's consistant refusal to vote in favour of job security over pay raises has inevitably led to the widespread use of the inappropriate technology that has replaced them in huge numbers and of course the governments of all stripes who over the decades have danced to whoever paid the piper that got them elected. These successive governments, be they Socred, NDP or Liberal, have undermined the principle whereby access to the forest resource is based on creating and sustaining jobs by shipping raw logs out of the province which increased short term profits for investors and bankers but killed the job base that once made the forestry industry the backbone of BC's economy.

Even an outline of the role each of these culprits play in BC's future forestry quagmire could take a book let alone a single Mud Report. Over the next few days this old geezer will try to tackle the culprits one by one. But for today me thinks a quick outline of why so many of our kids are lined up outside Sprawl-Mart and Mickey D's looking for a minimum wage job and living on their parents couch is best.

Once upon a time here in BC, 'a time i remember oh so well', a person could get out of school, high school-trade school-university-community college-you name it, and get a decent paying job somewhere in the 'resource' sector that undoubtedly required sweat and stick-to-it-ative-ness but resulted in a paycheck come Friday that would feed and cloth a small family moderately well and might even leave ya a few bucks for a few beers on the weekend. No fancy pickups, no big boats, but enough to hold your head high and enjoy a few of the fruits of your labour. Be it in fishing, farming, mining, manufacturing or lumber, if a person was willing to work Super Natural BC had a decent job for ya.

That was then, before the professional foresters and the bankers replaced the small scale gypo loggers and their chokermen's jobs with mammouth clearcuts traversed by feller-bunchers followed monoculture tree plantations. Now BC's central interior forests aren't really forests anymore they're lodgepole pine monocultures planted in the rows that the professionals thought most perfect for the machinery that was to replace the lowly logger but turned out to be the ideal banquet table for the climate change driven tiny pine beetle instead.

For today let's end with what Edward Abbey said decades go: "In clear cutting you clear away the natural forest, or what the industrial forester calls 'weed trees', and plant all one species of tree in neat straight functional rows like corn, sorghum, sugar beets or any other practical farm crop. Then you dump on chemical fertilizers to replace the washed away humas, inject the seedlings with growth forcing hormones, surround your plot with deer repellents and raise a uniform crop of trees all identical. When the trees reach a certain prespecified height [not maturity; that would take too long] you send in a fleet of tree harvesting machines and cut the fuckers down. All of them. Then burn the slash, and harrow, seed, and fertilize all over again. Round and round and round again, faster and faster and tighter and tighter until, like the fabled Malaysian Concentric Bird which flies in ever-smaller circles, you disappear up your own asshole". Or until some unforeseen natural nemesis like the pine beetle moves in.