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Open Letter to UBC Prof. Thomas Maness re: "Active Environmentalism" PDF Print E-mail
Justice News
Friday, 27 October 2006 00:06

Open Letter to UBC Prof. Thomas Maness re: "Active Environmentalism"

Ingmar Lee ~ Hi Thomas, You say that you?re an ?active environmentalist? so, given my concerns about a lack of environmentalist representation at your upcoming ?BC Forum on Forest Economics and Policy? Symposium in Vancouver, and having never encountered you during my years of participation in BC?s environmental movement, I figured I had some research to do. But after an extensive Google search didn?t turn up anything, I wrote back to you to ask for something, anything to demonstrate your environmental activity.


Open Letter to UBC Prof. Thomas Maness re: "Active Environmentalism"

Hi Thomas,

My response embedded within your letter in Green

You say that you?re an ?active environmentalist? so, given my concerns about a lack of environmentalist representation at your upcoming ?BC Forum on Forest Economics and Policy? Symposium in Vancouver, and having never encountered you during my years of participation in BC?s environmental movement, I figured I had some research to do. But after an extensive Google search didn?t turn up anything, I wrote back to you to ask for something, anything to demonstrate your environmental activity.


?.Well, no answer, and only 5 days till the Symposium, so I?ll just go with what I?ve got. My research has shown that you are indeed a very busy man, obviously far too busy to answer questions from annoying gnats like me. Nevertheless, here?s what my research has turned up, and, er, well, if you are the ?environmental representation? amongst the Logging lackey keynotes at your Symposium, then I stand by my original complaint:

Your interests are clearly with the logging and forest-processing industry, and not with the environment.

Here below, I unpack your letter:

On 20/10/06, Thomas Maness wrote:

Hi Ingmar ?

I received a copy of your email to the Landwatch Discussion List where you noted that there was not a single environmentalist on our list of speakers. You made a mistake in this observation: you overlooked my name. I have been an active environmentalist since 1968. I am the chair of the organizing committee and will be speaking at the conference.

As far as being an ?active? environmentalist, I know hundreds of environmental activists across the province, and have participated in numerous forest protection efforts and environmental discussions for many years, but I?ve never heard of you, nor has anyone I?ve asked ever heard of you, or your colleague, Nicole Robinson. Perhaps you might have done something back in St. Louis where you were born and grew up, or in West Virginia, where you were educated, or even at the University of Weyerhaeus?,er ~Washington where you got your Ph.D. but there?s simply no Google record of anything that appears remotely environmental to me. I?ve searched your listed publications ( click here) but I can?t see anything remotely resembling environmental activism there.

Searching deeper into Google, I see that you are a ?Principle Investigator? for the Sustainable Forest Management Network (SFMN). Here?s a list of your colleagues there:

SFMN BoD Industry Partners:

* Barry Waito (Chair), Louisiana-Pacific Canada Ltd.

* Pat Wearmouth, Weyerhaeuser Company

Partner?s Committee:

* Tim Barker, Daishowa-Marubeni International Ltd.

* Jean-Paul Bielech, Manning Diversified Forest Products

* Dave Beck, Ainsworth Lumber Co. Ltd.

* Wendy Crosina, Weyerhaeuser Company

* John Deal (alternate - Jeff Beale), Canfor Inc.

* Margaret Donnelly, Consultant, Louisiana-Pacific Canada Ltd.

* Elston Dzus, Alberta-Pacific Forest Industries Inc.

* Alternate for Elston Dzus: Shawn Wasel, Alberta-Pacific Forest Industries Inc.

* Tom Hoffman, Tolko Industries Ltd.

* Paul Jeakins, Canadian Forest Products Ltd.

* Ga?tan Pelletier, J.D. Irving, Limited

* Paul Poschmann (alternate - Guy Tremblay), Abitibi-Consolidated Inc.

* Jonathan Russell, Millar Western Forest Products Ltd.

* Kari Stuart-Smith, Tembec Inc.

* Steve Viszlai (alternate - Robert Kennett), Tolko Industries Ltd.

* John MacGillivray, Bowater Inc.


* Abitibi-Consolidated Inc.

* Ainsworth Lumber Co. Ltd.

* Alberta-Pacific Forest Industries Inc. (Al-Pac)

* Bowater Inc.

* Canadian Forest Products Ltd. (Canfor)

* Daishowa-Marubeni International Ltd. (DMI)

* J.D. Irving, Limited (JDI)

* Louisiana-Pacific Canada Ltd. (LP)

* Manning Diversified (MD)

* Tembec Inc.

* Tolko Industries Ltd.

* Weyerhaeuser Company


I think if you come to hear what I have to say you might change your mind. You also missed the name of Nicole Robinson, a Forest Ecologist who is one of the most active environmentalists that I know.

Again, Nicole Robinson is unknown in BC?s environmental activist community. I attempted a Google search of her efforts, but if there?s anything there, it?s buried by other famous ?Nicole Robinson? websites.

Nicole is organizing the event and she is working very hard to ensure that the public will get their say.

This is the ?public? that will have to pay $75 to get in! Your admission fee for this partially tax-payer funded event ensures that none from the BC environmental activist community are likely to participate. BC?s environmental activist community is flat broke, and there are no generous industry subsidies flowing our way for such luxurious Gala events at opulent Vancouver hotels.

I want you to know that we in the Forum are working very hard to bring positive change to forest policy in British Columbia.

Well the fact that the ?BC Forum on Forest Economics and Policy? was established at the UBC Forest Faculty with a generous grant from CANFOR (click here) immediately brings your Forum into disrepute. I won?t even get into the how the former CANFOR CEO David Emerson just ripped off his own Logging industry fellows for a billion dollars, half of which has now been funnelled into the ?Re-elect the Republicans? campaign currently going on in the USA. ( click here) I note that you have the swashbuckling TimberWest privateer, Hamish Kerr on your Keynote Speaker?s roster. ( Click here) to read Mr. Kerr?s draconian Neocon solutions for BC?s Public Forests. The fact that TimberWest, which is amongst the most ruthless and voracious forest destroyers in BC, is a major financier of this Symposium immediately brings it into disrepute.

As an environmentalist, I appreciate open mindedness, honesty and frank and open discussion. That?s what the BC Forum is about.

Further, in your capacity as Associate Professor of Forest Economics, Department of Forest Resources Management at UBC, you received a chunk of your $431,000 funding from, who else, Canadian Forest Products Ltd to build a computer model ?that will provide a new way for the public to view proposed landscape changes and assess various tradeoffs so that researchers can more accurately determine public preferences toward forested areas? and will provide ?a broad picture of how the public determines what it is prepared to trade-off in order to protect forest values they care about.? ( click here)

Searching further, we find that you are a Coordinator of the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) and are working to promote the use of the latest engineering technology in the automation of wood and wood fiber processing plants. Examples of this technology include robotics, scanning technology, computer applications, and expert systems, for example, to provide more effective and efficient wood processing and conversion systems....

It goes on, and on, but where?s the environmental activism?!

That?s why we have the panel discussion as the main part of the event. Vaughn Palmer will be involving the audience in the discussion, and everyone will have an opportunity to get their message across. Vaughn won?t be asking easy questions.

It would have been a challenge to find a more devoted Neocon logging industry lackey than Vancouver Sun columnist Vaughn Palmer. If environment is big on your agenda, why not get the only CanWest Global reporter with Green credibility, which is Stephen Hume?

We are also exploring other ways to actively involve the public in this event, so there may be some surprises.

Well, 5 days to go, -you?d better surprise us fast.

It really is time for all of us to take an active role in shaping a new generation of environmentalists that face the realities of our world which is spinning out of control on so many fronts. Very little is accomplished by applying demeaning labels to people because they don?t share your beliefs, instead the task is to develop sound arguments that carry the day. If we can do this we can bring the mainstream into the fight.

?Shaping a New Generation of Environmentalists??!? Is that the ?active role? you are taking down there at the UBC Logging department? I worked in the silviculture industry for 21 years all across BC, and I know the UBC logging department spawn which inspected our work. Straight out of school, they went to work for logging companies, and their job was to quantify the value of a patch of forest, to figure out how to rip it out as cheap as possible, and to throw some chemicals and vegetation back at the stumpfield that would get past the infill brush as fast as possible to get that cut-block off the books. That?s what they learned at UBC, and that?s what has justified the ongoing massacre of the forests.

I encourage you and everyone on your mailing list to attend the Forum event and get involved in forest policy. BC?s environmentalist community in the past has done a magnificent job of pointing out the environmental problems we face. It is now time to also deal with economic problems of forest dependent communities and the social ills and inequities that are coincident with the rapid depletion of our environmental capital.

I?m amazed that you can write this with a straight face, given the folks who will be speaking at your Symposium. I?m surprised you don?t have Patrick Moore himself at the podium.

The choices that we face in BC are not easy ones, in fact they are far too easy to oversimplify. Only by understanding a wide range of viewpoints can we develop workable solutions. If you participate in this event you may be assured of one thing. We at the BC Forum will be listening to you.

Best regards,

Thomas Maness

Associate Professor of Forest Economics
Department of Forest Resources Management
University of British Columbia

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


With much less than 20% of this Earth?s final intact tracts of (wild, ancient, old-growth, pristine, primaeval -take your pick) forests remaining, the proper, ethical thing for all active environmentalists to be doing, is to work to protect everything that is left from the scourge of commercial extraction, NOW. Period. There are no ?sound arguments? that can justify destroying more pristine wilderness anywhere, and no so-called certified logging practice is acceptable any more in such forests.

People like you, and the Logging-Lackey institutions you work for such as UBC, the University of Weyerhaeuser, and the most recently notorious Oregon State University Logging dept.will always continue to find new ways to scam so-called certified low impact logging in our ever-dwindling patches of intact forests. As the forest is exhausted, your efforts are a shot-gun blast further pocking the scattered final refugia tufts which remain.

Cheers, Ingmar


David Shipway Unpacks the Online Preamble for the Forum

Quoting the online preamble for this latest forest tenure forum (http://www.bc-forum.org/symposium0611.htm ) as a fuse for more radical ideas in the next generation, here are mine, since it looks like all the usual culprits are still in control:

"The current tenure system in British Columbia has created an industry structure with a dependence on high harvest levels and a focus on being high volume, low cost producers in commodity products. However, forest sector conditions have changed substantially in the last 30 years. BC is no longer a global cost leader as timber quality and piece size decrease over time, environmental costs, once nonexistent, continue to rise, and labor rates cannot compete with those of developing countries. Southern hemisphere plantations are capable of growing high quality timber significantly faster and cheaper than we can, and investment capital is rapidly moving south. "

True, but right off the bat, the Forum needs to think outside this hopeless box! This whole trainwreck starts within the corporate "global competitiveness" paradigm of export trade, built on a manufactured "reality scam" which has been the primary driver and legitimizer of severely overcutting our forests and screwing the workers at the same time. Had we collectively realized that there simply was no "global competition" to the incredible quality of BC's coastal old growth timber, we might have slowed down a few decades ago and made sure that such wood quality that is now almost extinct was actually maintained with long-rotation selection-cutting forestry. Diminished as it is, there's still that opportunity to steer in that direction, instead of competing with Alabama etc. to produce short-rotation junkwood out of the best forest ecosystems in the world, but it requires we at least admit we've been ripped off, that Maximum Sustained Yield and the Liquidation-Conversion project in BC was the wrong way to "manage" forest ecology, and that a radical course correction is needed. Restoration of old-growth qualities will indeed take time and trans-generational commitment, but the alternative industrial scenario of "lawnmower forestry" will just dig the economic and cultural hole we are in much deeper.

At the same time, the public has become more aware that our public forestlands are more than simply an economic asset. They represent vital ecosystems that are both life-sustaining necessities and capital assets that should provide a flow of a variety of timber and non-timber goods and services well into the future.

The usual multi-use platitudes, but since there has been no substantial resolution to outstanding aboriginal land claims, it is a bit illegitimate for the sponsors to call them "our public forestlands" Excuse me, but what about those prior and feduciary tenure obligations?

Clearly the conditions that created the need for the tenure system in the first place have changed, and the system itself is no longer meeting its original stated objectives: "competitive advantages in world markets", "maximum continuity of employment in all phases of the industry" and "stable, settled and prosperous communities".

These colonial objectives have actually become contradictory in a corporate-dominated world of mobile capital, so corporations have simply deconstructed the last two objectives and run amok with the first. Any appurtenancy legislation we once had in BC to contain corporate greed and maintain the 2nd and 3rd objectives has been methodically shredded by successive BC governments, caving in to the old-growth-funded corporate timber lobby as they accepted big campaign donations.

The choices of how we manage this asset will have serious impacts on both current and future generations, and there is widespread public concern about the development of these management policies. Many stakeholders still feel that the answer to the problem is longer tenures or privatization.

The forests on this planet are not just an "asset", as already stated. Widespread public concern seems to have had little effect in liquidating them either, because the public has been methodically stripped of any legitimate power in denying corporate rule. There are answers, but many would find them "economically intolerable". Here we see yet again that tired old rant that the Commons is a "problem" and the solution is Enclosure. It's definitely not if they are given to the same self-serve corporations that have totally destroyed the social contract! A look at how the privatized forests of eastern Vancouver Island have been severely degraded by each new corporate owner proves that this is no panacea. Island Timberlands is hellishly busy liquidating everything MacBlo spared.

However, this must be balanced against the question of whether growing trees on BC forest lands, with the consequent long rotations, would be an investment with a positive net present value? If not, forestry as we know it is unlikely to generate substantial private investment on the land base.

A comment that is hopelessly stuck in short-term stock-market thinking mode! Someone will probably propose hemp plantations. Forests here only grow at about 2 or 3% per annum, so if you are a typical TIMO promising to deliver 10% to your investors, you must conduct a 500% overcut to keep them happy, or they will cut you. The bitter pill is that any real investment in raising the quality and values of our forests would have to be altruistic, a substantial gesture towards the welfare of those yet to be born.

This symposium is designed to bring this issue to forefront and get people working together to look at a new sustainable development strategy that once again ties forests to our inherent values, to the communities where we live, and to a diverse and globally competitive forest sector.

Throw these contradictory phrases together without radical rethinking of the "global competition" scam, and we are simply stuck in a hopeless trap again, along with our Siberian brothers and sisters.

No option should be off the table.

That's potentially good news.

Intensive forest management on high quality coastal sites may provide more stable employment on a smaller land base.

So far, this has meant using the best land to produce artificially-fertilized intensely knotty junkwood plantations for disposable wood products, producing more GHG's and running down the carbon sink in the soils. We desperately need a whole new model!

Small scale privatization on these sites may provide economic incentives for developing a new forest sector from the ashes of the coastal industry.

It could mean an inhabitory ecoforestry that provides communities of forest dwellers with stable modest incomes, but that will require radical tenure and land reform. Considering that we have a whole progression of younger generations that are doomed to being landless by the the current real-estate investment orgy, I would hope that the idea of Crown Woodlots that you can also live on would be considered legitimate tenure reform.

Timber management organizations could possibly manage BC forests for a wider range of values with attendant criteria and indicators, and provide the competitive log market called for in the Peel report. There are good examples from other jurisdictions. These and many other options must be considered and discussed.

In the face of all this mild-mannered talk of tenure diversity, the government over the last 10 years has pulled out all the stops to permit timber corporations to engineer a staggering consolidation and monopolization of ownership and tenure in BC. TIMO's like Timberwest and Brookfield's subsidiaries, who now basically own most of the private AND public forests of Vancouver Island, are part of the problem, not the solution! Their publicly-stated agenda on private forest lands is to liquidate timber assets and convert "suitable" land to real estate. After all, the government DID incinerate the Forest Land Reserve Act recently. Call me paranoid, but the fact that Timberwest is a primary sponsor of this Forum, maybe even helped write this contradictory preamble, sets up another talk-and-log/flog situation, since the chickens are hardly going to pull off a coup in tenure reform while the foxes are all around the room. But don't let that scare you away. The radical voices in this province need to be there, to be heard.

Since things are still sliding downhill in BC's forests, as well as in terms of transgenerational equity, we're at the point where a social revolution in land reform on the scale seen in some Southern hemisphere countries might now be carefully considered. Any real change on the ground seems inextricably tied to resolution of aboriginal land claims, and relocalization by establishing Community Forest Trusts to finally dismantle a defunct corporate-colonial tenure system.

David Shipway

Last Updated on Friday, 27 October 2006 00:06

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