Our governments are paying forestry companies to tear down our Crown-owned forests and ship them to the U.S. and Asia. Here’s how our "forest management system" works, taking British Columbia’s rainforests as an example.
Logging a majestic stand of hemlock and balsam in British Columbia’s coastal rainforest costs logging companies $100 a cubic metre. Selling the hemlock gets them an average of $60 a cubic metre, the balsam gets them less. "We lose $40 on every cubic metre of hemlock that we bring to the sawmill," explains Steve Crombie of Interfor, one of B.C.’s large product exporters.
An interview, for CBC Radio’s Ideas program, with Patricia Adams, Elizabeth Brubaker, and Lawrence Solomon. A discussion of the environmental, economic, and social harm wrought in the name of the public good, both in Canada and in the Third World, and of the counterbalancing protections offered by traditional property rights regimes.
These are bad times for Canada’s forests. We are slowly losing our forested areas across the country, as new growth fails to keep up with increased harvests. And we are plagued by bitter conflicts over how forests should be managed. In Northeastern Ontario’s Temagami region, disputes over logging have resulted in demonstrations, blockades, arrests, court challenges, and even an explosion. The Ontario government has opened up vast areas in the region to logging and mining. But native people claim the area’s lands as their own and demand the right to manage them. Meanwhile, environmentalists insist that the provincial government close access roads and set up a wildland reserve to preserve some of our last remaining old-growth white pines.
Over the years, British Columbia’s public forest managers have promoted increasing timber yields from public forests in the belief that more timber volume means more processing, more jobs and therefore greater benefit to society. Timber yields have increased manifold over the years, as new techniques and economies have opened up virtually all of British Columbia’s crown forests to industrial forest management. But a large proportion of the present allowable annual cut (AAC) makes no economic or technical sense. As much as one-fifth of BC’s AAC occurs by government fiat. A central tenet of this policy is utilization standards.
RECREATIONAL use of Ontario’s forests has the potential to bring far greater riches to the provincial economy than logging, a new study commissioned by the province suggests.
Defining the future demand for wilderness recreation means defining demand – identifying the Ontarians that value Ontario’s wilderness, and the value they place on it – and defining supply – identifying the amount of wilderness available, its accessibility and its value for recreation.
The objective of this study is to determine the cost to society of preserving the Carmanah Creek watershed in its natural state. The cost of preserving the valley is viewed as the cost of forgoing the opportunity to harvest the timber. A complete cost-benefit analysis would compare the economic benefit of logging with the benefit from preserving the timber. Only if the benefits from logging exceed those from preserving should the timber be harvested. But due to the difficulty of measuring intangible non-timber benefits, the cost of the forgone opportunity to harvest the timber is the best measure of the cost of preservation. If the cost of preservation (the benefit of harvesting) is relatively low, then intangible non-timber value are more likely to exceed timber values—the prudent decision would obviously be not to harvest.
Shareholders in the forestry giant MacMillan Bloedel Ltd. would make more money by investing in Canada Savings Bonds than they will by logging British Columbia’s disputed Carmanah Valley, a study says. B.C. taxpayers will also make less money from the timber harvest than politicians are leading people to believe, according to the study, to be released today by Environment Probe in Toronto.
Whether you voted for or against the free trade deal, now that free trade is a reality it’s incumbent upon all of us who care about the environment to do everything we can to make the deal work for us. The next 60 months – during which our government will be back at the negotiating table to hammer out the meaning of subsidy – will be decisive in our environment’s future: These negotiations will determine whether or not our forests are spared, whether we can continue to subsidize environmentally destructive coal and nuclear plants, whether free trade means fair trade or whether it means an acceleration of the rape and pillage policies of the past.