This is what is at the heart of forestry reform in BC: values, ethics, spirituality. Not woo-woo stuff – but the shit that real people think about every day. Its the old-time loggers who are telling me they don’t go into the bush anymore because they see the destruction and just get angry and depressed now. Its the landowners whose acreages are smothered by clear cuts after they spend 2 years negotiating for a measly 5 metre creek setback instead of the 1 metre creek setback that industry could do if they want. Its loggers who are ordered to drive through 2 feet of water on roads that are washing away to get those last loads of timber even when its endangering their lives. Its business owners in Grand Forks who spend $150,000 of their own money restoring their flooded buildings. Its homeowners in Grand Forks living in RVs this winter after their homes were destroyed by flooding. Its government employees who cry when they have to force a landowner to allow a road through his property and lose his water source. Its the sadness I feel when I see a photo of a lone grizzly bear standing in a clear cut.
Our current forestry model doesn’t create a vibrant economy: it leaches from our economy. When we make short term profits for huge corporations and overseas individuals our top concern we are putting profits for the few in place of democracy as our governing principle for our natural resources. We are not building a strong economy. We need to call the setup that supports this forestry system for what it really is – its propaganda that serves the bank accounts of a limited number of people. We want a vibrant economy in Grand Forks and across the Province that includes all who care for the forest.
Every dollar that we invest in restoring our environment is money that we are investing in our economy. If we really want a vibrant economic system 10 years from now, we take care of our forests today.
We want to unleash the potential and productivity of the forests – right now the productivity and potential of the forests is being destroyed. We need an integrative model of what happens to our trees. Right now it is stuck on some arbitrary numbers and figures that our entire forestry system got built around. These numbers that they are using to determine how much gets cut down are not based in any law of physics, or something that is universally accepted as truth, instead they are arbitrary calculations that someone invented and our entire system of taking down trees got built around it.
There is only one way to transform these worries and its to talk about the entire set of values that we share about our environment. Profits for the few is not something that the majority of British Columbians value. Its at the bottom of our priority list. What we value are forests our children can enjoy, safety from the constant threat of fires, safety from the threat of floods, a secure food supply, support and security for farmers who grow our foods, clean drinking water, furry animals, winged animals, berries, leaves, hiking, snowshoeing, and government agents who are directed to uphold these values.
Currently, we are not addressing our deeper values when it comes to forestry practices. The system imposed on our forests has swerved away from our ethics. British Columbians are deeply ethical people who have both a practical and spiritual connection to our forests.
In these serious times, when we think about our forests, we need to be thinking about principles, values, and future outcomes of current actions.
Increasing flooding, fires, sediment-filled drinking water, and disappearing caribou – these are all symptoms of a dysfunctional system. Subjects like AAC, ECA, FRPA rules, and Professional Reliance are all elements of a dysfunctional system. The rule of not restricting timber and putting timber above all other interests are the examples of how our underlying values are not incorporated into the rules and legislation. The ensuing policies, calculations, and actions by BC Timber Sales, the Chief Forester, and the Ministry that support the unwise rules and legislation don’t match our values.
We need to address the paradigm that this dysfunctional system is built on. While its true that AAC calculations need to change, that professional reliance needs to go, and that the “timber above all” rule needs to go, what we need to focus on is changing the entire paradigm so that it matches what we really care about.
People who work in forestry don’t need to fear this change. Because it doesn’t necessarily mean loss to them. It will mean loss to the highest profiteers. But it doesn’t have to mean loss of employment to government agents, middle management, equipment operators, truck drivers, or sawmill workers. Their jobs can be shifted and transformed to fit into a new model of forestry that makes everyone involved feel like their jobs support the values of British Columbians.
Changing the forestry model doesn’t mean a loss to your job in forestry. It means a shift away from doing your job in a way that you KNOW is damaging the environment for centuries to come. It is loss that you are afraid of – not change. We can steer this change so that the average British Columbian doesn’t experience as much loss as we have been getting forced on us.
And what we are currently experiencing is loss: loss of revenues, loss of jobs, loss of our good wood, loss of our trees, loss of our safety, loss of our homes, loss of biodiversity, loss of animals, loss of water, loss of protection, loss of our children’s future economic success, and more. As we suffer the loss of ethics and integrity in the treatment of our forests, we also suffer the loss of so much more.
There are other values that must be included in forestry activity besides short term profit….spiritual values, moral values, ethical values, the love that we have for our families, the sweetness of bird song, and how we want beauty in our children’s lives when they grow up.
We also place high value on truth and wisdom.
We need to ground our forestry activities in truth and wisdom. We need to keep it real. Science has value but it is not our only value. Profits have value but not when they are transported out of our country – first on logging trucks, then on trains, then on boats. Profits have value when they are distributed to the people who value the source of those profits – our trees.
They are not your trees if you don’t give a shit about them. They are not your trees if you don’t give a shit about nature. They are not your trees if you don’t give a shit about beauty. They are not your trees if you do not give a shit about bears, caribou, insects, bats, salamanders, and salmon.
We are part of a wave of environmentally conscious voters.
It is time for elected officials to take heed.
~ Jennifer Houghton