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A Bear of a PR Scam

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Section: Letters British Columbia Topics: forestry

March 8, 2006

A Bear of a PR Scam

Letter from Michael Michael Major

The full court PR press by our government, the forest industry and the foundation funded industrial sustainabilism engos has marginalized and deprecated many of BC's environmental voices that wish to contain coastal industrial forestry entirely within the existing second growth plantations that have already replaced natural forests on the most productive lands of the region.

The environmental context for the agreement is that more than 50% of the original north and central coast forest has already been harvested. Most of that harvest (about 70%) has taken place during the last 45 years. Public forest policy for the region has priorized and targeted the best and most accessible timber for earliest harvest. The biggest, the best and the most accessible timber is almost precisely identified with the most ecologically productive core alluvial zones of the region. These core alluvial zones are hundreds of times more productive than the medium and marginal forest areas that predominate in the remaining unharvested areas (perhaps economically unharvestable).

Though 50% of the original forest cover still remains technically available for harvest much of it is uneconomic and only about 10% of the original core highly productive ecological areas remain unharvested. These core alluvial productive areas are the critical ancient interfaces between terrestrial ecosystems and oceanic (mostly salmon mediated) nitrogen exchange that drives the engines of environmental resilience and ecological diversity for the Great Bear Rainforest and closely integrated marine ecosystems.

These few precious uncut highly productive alluvial areas are the only fully functioning restoration templates remaining for the entire GBR region. The RSP enviros (Rainforest Solution Project: Greenpeace & SCBC with leadership and financial support from the US engos ForestEthics & RAN) concurred with the forest industry to accept and allow the continued liquidation and conversion of these remaining core highly productive alluvial zones into silvicultural plantations that maximize early seral timber productivity at the expense of natural forest resilience and biodiversity.

Essentially, the government of BC and its forest industry received green cover from their hand-picked enviros to continue the liquidation of the core alluvial areas on which the ecological sustainability of the GBR depends. In return, government will convey some of the economically unharvestable, lower quality and less ecologically significant sites for conservation and for an imprecise PR scam called EBM (ecosystem based management) which simultaneously promises greenwashed timber for logging and sustainable old growth logging for naive and distant enviros.

The announcement was a none-event. It provided ForestEthics with an apparent declaration of victory with which they can recruit enviros for a campaign to enjoin the Ontario forest industry to lower expectations of its environmental performance. This new psuedo environmentalism is called sustainabilism and it begins with the objective not of protecting the environment but of reforming industrial appearances to make development seem just a little bit greener. Sustainabilism is the product of frustrated engo pragmatism and public relations that in the total absence of environmental acheivement has decided instead to market celebrity enviros, greenwash, drive-by photo-ops and serial victory press releases for the media to lull us to sleep.

The GBR deal is a travesty, not because some of its components are not desirable, but because the deal functions first to deliver the appearance of positive response, environmental effectiveness, systemic change and potential for wholistic and civilized improvement as a disposable wrapper and legitimizing rationale for continuing the depletion and exploitation of the few remaining sites eventually with which the GBR may ultimately restore itself. Having worked, lived-in and loved this forest for much of my life, I can not pretend that its continued industrial depletion is any fashion sustainable.

The so-called agreement commits the RSP enviros to stay invested, to steward and spin the deal, to marginalize the deals opponents and to defend the certainty of forest liquidation and conversion which this agreement provides to the provincial government and its forest industry. Look on the PR glitz, rock, ice, high altitude vistas and areas of marginal forest protected from entirely uneconomic logging and realize that Burson Marsteller, NPR, Hill & Knowlton, Michael Marx and their rented celebrity enviros have delivered a corporate victory for the forest depletion business in BC and conned the media into warmly declaring environmentalism achieved.

Michael Major



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The Dominion is a monthly paper published by an incipient network of independent journalists in Canada. It aims to provide accurate, critical coverage that is accountable to its readers and the subjects it tackles. Taking its name from Canada's official status as both a colony and a colonial force, the Dominion examines politics, culture and daily life with a view to understanding the exercise of power.

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