In 1992, Canada’s fisheries Minister, John Crosbie, reasoned with struggling fishermen that he “didn’t take the fish from the goddamn water, so don’t go abusing me.”
Today in B.C., the forest minister is under similar attack; his party is taking the fall from unions, workers and industry for decades of overharvesting, uplifts, inflated annual cuts, automation and the overall mismanagement of our greatest crown asset.
Are B.C.’s trees going the way of Newfoundland’s cod? As we mourn one controversial political leader we cannot help but recall the moratorium of 1992 and make comparisons to a similar natural resource crisis, our forests. Read any media from 2019 and it mentions today’s crippled forestry industry.
In 1945 when the Sloan Report by the Chief Justice of B.C. laid the policy foundation for the Forest Act, including granting industry full access to our forests through tenure, to ensure the taxpayers of B.C. a “perpetual supply of raw material for forest industries, with consequent stability of industrial communities and assurance of permanent payrolls,” it is doubtful he had today’s depleted industry scenario in mind.
In spite of warnings in the 70s of the ‘fall down’ effect precipitated by less access to old-growth, consistent declines in the 90s, 50,000 jobs lost in two decades, the shutdown and curtailments at over 125 mills, today’s industry keeps plugging away, business as usual, cutting down more trees, as quickly and economically as they can, hoping things will ‘turn around.’ It is time to reform the government policies supporting this accelerated decline.
While radical to some, to save the remnants of the forestry industry we must first save the forest, to save reduced jobs in forestry we have to save trees, too keep some mills afloat we will have to shutter others. Our forests have been permanently, radically altered, now our forest industry must follow. Anything within easy access and of value on our great landscape has been harvested, time for a pause, especially in parks, protected areas and community watersheds where the true value in a tree does not come from a 2×4.