Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Truck Loggers support the "Working Forest"

On the hills and mountains of British Columbia lies a special kind of forest imbued with a kind of moral authority. It is called the "Working Forest" and it is supported by the Truck Loggers Association and also by many forest dependent communities.

The "Working Forest" is the forested parts of timber producing forest landscapes that can be harvested. In mountainous areas it may not be possible to build roads into all parts of the forest. Different types of harvesting equipment are used to move harvested logs to the roads. At the edges of the harvest-able forest, there are some areas that are marginal to harvest for economic reasons. In British Columbia, the average forest landscape has its "working forest" and about an equal area of forest that will not be harvested and stay in somewhat natural condition. This "non working forest" does its goofing-off near mountain tops, waterfalls and canyons and other interesting natural features. It is actually a massive un-designated wilderness area likely to remain in natural condition for the long term.

The "Working Forest" is not just the timber harvesting land in BC's public forests. It is a political and public relations term to frame forest issues and drive a wedge between people in hope of getting enough to line up for the cause. An environmental awakening starting about 1970, raised questions about the hegemony of corporate timber interests in BC public forests. Environmental organisations protested and managed to "save" more forests as protected areas. A large increase in protected areas or BC Parks occurred in the 1990s. Parks were expanded to 13 million hectares. Denmark, Holland and Switzerland together make up a little less than that area. The polarized debate known for a time as the "War in the woods" has never been fully resolved. The environmentalists moral high ground of "saving" forests was countered by the "working" forest. The Truck Loggers and some folk in forest dependent communities supported the "working" forest because they feared reduction in timber dollars. The "working forest" is little more than a political or public relations trick to get the Truck Loggers and forest dependent communities to support or increase the hegemony of corporate timber interests in BC's public forests.

Truck Loggers and folk in forest dependent communities think that they are supporting a strong forest economy by supporting the "working forest" or a forest with a sole economy from timber. The Montreal Process, an international standard for sustainable forest management encourages multiple social and economic benefits from forests. Within the timber part of a forests economy, there should be diversified wood products manufacture to ensure that the forest gives a maximum of value added dollars and employment. This has not been achieved because the forest corporations that control most of the harvest from BC's public forests are mainly into commodity wood products. Export tariffs that are a result of the favored position of these corporations also subtract from our forest economy. While non-timber forest products and nature based forest enterprises may not exceed the economic value of timber, these enterprises can add significant activity to the economy of forest dependent communities. Forested Parks can also add economic activity to forest dependent communities. The forest and other land within timber producing landscapes in BC that can not be harvested is a wilderness area that exceeds the area protected in Parks. Active management of these areas by planning and constructing hiking trails can add to the local tourist economy.

The "working forest" notion is about a limited forest economy that supports working only part of BC's public forests for economic benefit. Truck Loggers and forest dependent communities should set their economic sights a little higher and support a "complete forest" economy. The 'Complete Forest" economy will involve local independent management of forests by a professional management authority that will plan and manage timber, non- timber and nature based forest economic activity in the local landscape. Timber will sold on an open market to encourage diversified wood products manufacture with greater total employment and income. It is time for the Truck Loggers to upgrade from the "working forest" notion that supports corporate timber interests to the "complete forest" economy under a Democratic Local Forest Trust. (Read more about Local Forest Trusts and a British Columbia Forest Trust Assembly by clicking on the sidebar.)

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