Monday, October 28, 2013

Coast Forest Products Association supports Professional Reliance

The newsletter of the Coast Forest products Association has an article that promotes professional reliance:

The article opens with this quotation: “Forestry isn’t rocket science. It is much more complicated” – Dr. Fred Bunnell UBC, Professor Emeritus. 

A good public relations piece on the merits of  trained,experienced professional foresters managing the public forests of British Columbia follows. It is rounded off with the engagement of the public through various public comment and involvement processes to present an idyllic picture of professional reliance. We do seem to be on a trajectory toward a glorious future of sustainable forest management according to the Coast Forest Products Association.

Maybe forestry is more complicated than rocket science. Some sawmills are closing down in the interior of BC at a time when dead timber from the mountain pine beetle epidemic is becoming less use-able. If we are to believe the established story that the epidemic was solely caused by climate change, a rocket scientist would not have been able to predict the major epidemic. The epidemic was predicted by a few humble foresters with lesser intellectual abilities than a rocket scientist. Lodge pole pine trees become susceptible to mountain pine beetle attack when they get about 80 years old. Huge areas of Lodge pole pine much greater than 80 years old were building up in the interior of British Columbia. This happened because the Forest Service suppressed fires in lodge pole pine and forest corporations were not harvesting enough of the species. The average rocket scientist would be able to figure this one out. 

We need to take a few lessons from rocket science. Smart rocket scientists are really into trajectory. Where things are headed, hitting the target and all that sort of thing. Professional reliance in forestry has popped up in BC over the last few years as somewhat of the latest innovation, and is being advanced by the  Association of BC Forest Professionals. However, the concept was in vogue over 100 years ago. The concept was an essential element in British Columbia's decision to retain most of its forests in public ownership. The forest were retained in public ownership so that they could be managed by independent trained forest professionals organized as the BC Forest Service. These trained foresters would be able to work for the public interest and ensure the sustainability of the public forests and their dependent communities. The initial trajectory of professional reliance got caught up in the orbit of the Forest Service handing over increasing forest management responsibilities to forest corporations. That orbit meant a complicated and inefficient regulatory framework that wasted the professional forester resources of both government and forest corporations. There is now a need to get out of this inefficient orbit and go on a new trajectory. 

The BC Government and forest corporations have been orbiting, or going round in circles, for years and are planning to get off and go on a trajectory again. Area based tenures, professional reliance and other associated topics are all part to the public relations launch pad. Where are we headed?  Let us review the last 100 years and think about what the rocket scientist might deduce as the target. 100 years ago we did not want forest corporations to manage our forests so we kept them in public ownership so they could be managed by independent professional foresters. Then we gave forest corporations some forest management responsibilities and they had their own foresters. More forest management control has be handed to forest corporations and now we are thinking about giving forest corporations long term leases in public forests and the public interest will be satisfied because they can rely on corporate employed foresters who will "involve" the public. We have been on a public relations trip for over 60 years to gradually enclose the public forests into the private interest or private timber interests. Professional reliance and other recent topics in BC forestry are just the last public relations booster rockets to propel the public forests inevitably into the private interest.

Don't be fooled, click on Democratic area based forest trusts in the sidebar for another trajectory featuring forest professionals that are accountable to the public through democratic local forest trusts.

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