Writing a commentary placed in the the business section of the Chronicle Herald, “a retired federal trade and economic development official” fires a few blasts at the Healthy Forest Coalition and defends the senior bureaucrats at NSDNR. Writes V.T:
The objectives of the HFC may be laudable, but the Coalition appears to have turned to some less laudable tactics. Two tactics that were on display on the “forest funeral” podium were, in my view, particularly troubling:
Misinformation: Some speakers declared, and others implied, that there has been no reduction in industrial harvesting. That’s simply not true. In fact, as HFC spokespersons know well, annual harvests have dropped sharply, down by 2016 to 58.3 per cent of their peak harvest volume in 2004, with no signs of any significant recovery in demand or prices.
Harassing officials: A central demand of the HFC, and of the Ecology Action Centre before it, has been the removal of senior DNR staff, principally because of past industry connections. This is unfair, indeed unjust, as these officials are doing the jobs the government hired them explicitly to do, and are not in a position to respond. What’s to lose in that tactic? To be fair, governments and forest industries are also inclined to present data and analysis selectively in support of their positions. In my view, what stakeholders have to lose is the integrity of legitimate positions that assert a scientific orientation, and credibility in the eyes of observers, with distortions of some key metrics and the avoidance of others.
Read more in COMMENTARY: Civility, accuracy needed in forestry debate by Val Traversy (Chronicle Herald, Nov 8, 2017)Perhaps some errors in the stats were made or “implied” by a speaker or two but the forest funeral was about a lot more than V.T seems to suggest and I thought was conducted with a great deal of civility.
Personally I went to express sorrow over the loss of individuals of many species due to continued, intensive and extensive clearcutting. That’s why most people went. We can do better.
Why are the senior bureaucrats “not in a position to respond” as VT contends? The government should be sending them (including scientific staff) out there to explain, defend and debate the policies that they developed and maintain through successive governments; all MLAs I have talked to about forestry matters have said they have very little knowledge of the area and so defer to the “experts”.
If the government did send them out there, we would have a lot more clarity about the facts, and quite probably, more enlightened forestry management.
ADDENDUM, Nov 14, 2017 – VT asked me to post this response to my comments:
Thank you for linking my Herald commentary on healthy forest advocacy to the FN blog. I was surprised, though, by some of your own observations and suggestions.
In my commentary, I should have been clearer about bureaucrats who ‘can’t defend themselves’. My reference was to defending their employment, not about their professional obligation to explain Government forest policies and practices.
Regarding the latter, DNR is “out there”, notably with an extensive, and extended, consultation on ‘timber objectives’ in 2015-16 and with its (ENGO proposed and FN lauded) harvest plan e-maps.
DNR is very much on the record (and on the web).
Perhaps, several years after the NRS (and a decade after the information on which its recommendations were based), it is time for HFC to move beyond calling out ‘bad forest management” to setting out a specific sustainable forest management plan, endorsed by a wide range of natural (about the ecosphere) and social (about people) scientists.