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Industrial Forest Science: Industry’s Bitch

Industrial Forest Science: Industry’s Bitch

Photo Source Gunvor Røkke | CC BY 2.0

“As soon as you are a scientist … you take a political side [because] you must necessarily choose to ask only certain questions. Many scientists … produce risk assessment for forest management [which] asks ‘how much can we cut, graze, salvage, spray, develop … and do to Earth’s ecosystems without making them buckle.”

–Mary O’Brien, 1994. Being a Scientist Means Taking Sides. BioScience 43(10): 706-708

“The larger and more immediate are prospects for gain, the greater the political power that is used to facilitate unlimited exploitation; Political leaders … base their policies upon a misguided view of the dynamics of resource exploitation; Distrust claims of sustainability; Scientists and their judgments are subject to political pressures.”

–Donald Ludwig, et al., 1993. Uncertainty, Resource Exploitation, and Conservation: Lessons from History. Science 260: 17/36.

Back in the late 1980s, the good people of Minnesota, alarmed by heavy logging, asked that an impact analysis be done. Jaakko Poyry, an international forestry consulting firm, was hired to produce a Generic Environmental Impact Statement (GEIS), and in 1992, the draft of the million dollar analysis was released for public scrutiny. In essence, it read “There will be ecological damage, we’re not sure how much, but industry rules.”

At even the lowest level investigated [the level that had caused public concern], there were projected declines in species of rare trees; declines of tree species within their ranges; unavoidable destruction of rare plant communities; loss of genetic diversity in many plants, including trees. The authors wrote “The lack of data … make it difficult to interpret impacts with any degree of certainly”; “Projections assume no natural disturbance” [Really!]; “Implicit assumptions [are] unrealistic”; “Loss of genetically unique ecotypes is irreversible.”; “Knowledge [is] not sufficient for detailed analysis of effects of fragmentation on biodiversity.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Logging Can’t Restore Burnt Forests

Logging Can’t Restore Burnt Forests

Photo by USDA Forest Service Alaska | CC BY 2.0

Every time I drive up to Mount Bachelor in Central Oregon I pass the Deschutes National Forest’s logging and mastication projects. The Forest Service and the Deschutes Collaborative suggest they are “thinning” the forest to preclude large wildfires and to “restore it.” (The collaborative is a working group of various stakeholders who advise the Forest Service about management issues.)

Neither of these assertions is accurate. What they are creating is tree plantations of largely even-aged trees — all done in the name of “fixing” the forest.

The first myth they are selling to the public is that logging can preclude large wildfires. There is a host of research — much by Forest Service’s own fire researchers as well as other ecologists — that concludes that under “extreme fire weather” nothing stops a wildfire.

When you have high temps, low humidity, drought and high winds, wildfires are unstoppable. It does not matter how much “thinning” or other fuel treatment you have done; wildfires will charge through, over and around any “fire break.”

When it appears that a fire break has stopped a blaze, check again. Almost always, the weather has changed. It is weather change, not firefighting, that allows humans to stop large wildfires.

I just visited the Thomas Fire in Southern California, the largest blaze in recent California history. Despite thousands of firefighters, and numerous fire breaks along the pathway of the fire, including 12-lane freeways, the only fire break that halted the Thomas Fire was the Pacific Ocean!

The only way to protect Bend and other communities is through mandatory firewise regulations that include nonflammable roofs, removal of flammable materials from near homes, and planning for rapid evacuation in the event of a wind-driven blaze.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Politics of Timber Theft

The Politics of Timber Theft

Steal a Tree, Go to Jail; Steal a Forest, Meet the President

Republished here with permission is a chapter from Jeffrey St. Clair’s 2008 book, Born Under A Bad Sky. St. Clair has provided an outstanding report of corrupt government at work. Even environmentalists in the Forest Service who are appointed to protect our national forests are part of the looting corporatocracy.

The power of money can be stronger than the power of government. We can see the power of money in the looting of our national forests. Even the environmental agencies established by Congress to protect the environment have fallen under corporate control.

Elected politicians, even if they intend otherwise, end up serving the corporatocracy.

The impotence of government to serve the public interest and general welfare is an important lesson both for progressives, who believe in the curative powers of government, and libertarians, who believe that government is inimical to private interests.

As both parties serve the corporatocracy, elections can change nothing.

The Politics of Timber Theft

Stealing trees is as old as the King’s timber reserves. The sanctions for such sylvan thievery have always been harsh. In medieval England, it meant public torture and slow death. In the US, the levy was a kind of financial death penalty — triple damages plus serious jail time.

A couple of years ago, two tree poachers drove a log truck onto a small farm in central Indiana after midnight, cut down two 100-year old black walnut trees in the small woodlot, loaded the pilfered trunks onto their truck and fled across a cornfield. The county sheriff caught them when their truck stalled in the field and sank in the mud. It turns out that the men had been hired by a local sawmill owner, who was set to sell the lumber to a German timber broker. All three men were tried and convicted of tree theft.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

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