Thursday, 17 September 2015

Buzz Lein: Forestry article, February 6, 1974

Why Are We Tolerating it Now?  Industrial Foresters, Speak Up.

By: Buzz Lein , Industrial Forester, Feb. 6, 1974

I am an Industrial Forester.  I am part forester, part engineer, part ecologist and part myth. I live and work in Northern Ontario where I am never seen, never heard and never believed. I help to cut down and harvest nature’s trees. I build roads and bridges. I worry about the effects of having too much of our area covered with over-mature and decadent trees.  I wonder where al the small trees are going to come from to keep paper mills going a few more years hence;  and, I wonder , on occasion, why the role of an Industrial Forester is either completely ignored or completely misunderstood.

The fact that an area is dependent on its forests and trees for its economic well-being does not in any way mean that the dwellers therein are any more aware of the industrial forester’s role than a person who lives in a factory town where the only trees are those that  appear about the end of December each year, are greatly admired for a few days and then discarded.  It is just not possible to relate to the function on an industrial forester unless one takes the time and trouble to go see not only what he is doing but where  and how he is doing it.  The gas pump jockey who never gets out of town may get all emotional about cutting down  trees and wilderness areas without having the foggiest idea what it is all about.  The manager of the big service centre who refuses to go camping because there are flies that bite is never going to understand why trees have to be cut down when they are “ripe”.  And, the Insurance salesman who has never spoken to any kind of a forester will recoil in horror at his first sight of a clear-cut area.

These good people are typical of people who live in forested parts of the country.  Mill workers are not normally knowledgeable about either the natural forces that produce the raw material or the mechanical processes involved in moving the wood from the woods to the mill.  And, when people as close to the use-process as mill workers are not clear about what goes on in the forest, it wouldn’t be right to expect that other people in industries not forest –based should be more knowledgeable.

Why doesn’t the industrial forester do something about alerting people to forest happenings?  Why doesn’t he show his knowledge of the woods?   Good questions.  And, easy to answer.

He doesn’t alert people to the forest happenings because he doesn’t know how to do it.  And, he doesn’t know how to do it because he has received little or no training in this art.  In addition, he receives practically no encouragement from his superiors to do anything like this because his superiors  are also industrial foresters and are labouring under the same handicaps he is.

Now, combine this “ isolationism” with a species  that is few in number, widely scattered, generally living comfortably in small towns where their activities are out of the main stream of public awareness, and the end result is complete public silence.

In 1974 ( or any other year that’s handy) , complete public silence from experts in the wood harvesters’ field cannot and should not be permitted.

Why are we tolerating it now?

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