January 17, 2005
Points and comments on Forestry Items and Forestry & Employment. Taken from what we have learned over the last number of years trying to deal with remote values and the attitudes and policies of MNR and the Northern Forest Industry.
1) There are lots of “large” problems facing the forest industry in the north. The method of harvest is a concern but the “largest” issue is sustainability. The long term effects of extensive clear cuts and full tree logging are issues that will have a direct effect on sustainability.
2) “Decicon forestry” has been in place in many parts of Ontario and many parts of Canada for many years. Selective and Shelterwood harvesting have been practiced in Eastern and Central Ontario for over 40 years.
3)Tending in the boreal forest has been on going in many parts of Ontario for many years. CTL (Short Defn: Cut to Length Forestry - Delimbing and cutting to length where the tree falls) is a recent improvement in tending options for the boreal forest but many successful tending operations have been done with conventional cut and skid crews.
4) The Forest Accord was an agreement made between the environmental groups and the forest industry and the Ont government. No Tourism reps were asked to sit on the committee that developed the Accord. The intent was to deal with the reservation of a % of crown from harvest. While we at one time thought we could compare the process and intent of the Accord and the MoU we have been corrected that they are not one in the same and do not carry the same weight…..the MoU as we have learned, is only an agreement for the “outline” of a process. It is not a statement of policy.
5) At one point, we as proponents of CTL, thought that capital investment for CTL would be a legitimate claim towards crown dues, found out that this was not true. In actual fact we found that the Crown through MNR had no budget or apparent authority or will to reduce Crown stumpage to accommodate the terms of the forest accord.
6) While the method of harvest can affect tourism values, the largest threat to tourism values is access. There are many areas where the area has been clear cut in the winter and the roads abandoned and closed following harvest, where there has been minimal impact on tourism and remote values. I would submit that having a portion of an area partial cut would be better for visual resources but with sensible view scape management of clear cutting, visual resources can and are being protected.
7) We have been managing a CTL operation in Ontario for over 7 years. We do not do any clear cutting. All our harvests are mechanical within the selection and shelterwood harvesting systems. CTL within a boreal forest has been ongoing within New Brunswick for over 20 years. Decicon is not the only Company with management and tending skills for non clear cut harvesting systems.
8) There is a lot more to tending operations within the context of an FMP other than just the harvesting system. To be successful the FMP has to accept and incorporate other silvicultural operating systems into it’s silvicultural guidelines. This would mean that pre harvest on the ground prescriptions would have to be part of the management process along with the tree marking. If you are serious about tending you have to have trained people doing the selection of which trees are harvested. Selection of trees should not be left to the operator of the harvester.
9) One of our strengths in forestry is experience working in complicated forests and learning to use CTL equipment within a variety of forest conditions. We have made efforts across Ont. to get forest companies to consider partial harvest and tending as a reasonable alternative to help protect remote values. In fact in the Wawa District the proposal within the RSA program was that with support from the Companies on access management issues, that the tourist operators would agree to harvest within the traditional shoreline reserves based on partial harvest. This agreement fell apart with no support from MNR on access controls.
10) To be in non compliance of the CFSA a Company has to be in be in non compliance with the direction contained within the FMP. The FMP is to be written to comply with all existing regs and guidelines. The guideline is not the legal direction the FMP is the legal document. We can only charge a company if it goes against the direction contained within the FMP. If visual resources and noise are important items there has to be clear direction within the FMP that these items are to be protected. If this direction is not followed than the Company can be charged.
11) Within the boreal forest only a portion of the stand and species structure will work within a partial harvest system. The trees have to be able to regenerate within partial shade. This restricts harvest to stands that have a better than 40% content of mid tolerant tree species (Sw,upland Sb,Sr, Pw, Pr). Partial harvest for Pj, Bw or Poplar will not work. In fact if there is a large portion of the stand that is Po you have to be prepared for some large follow up tending costs to try to control the poplar sprouting and regen. Partial harvest can only be done successfully on a portion of the boreal forest.
12) Long term supply of forest products is based on sustaining the resource. Sustaining the resource means successfully regenerating the forest. It is difficult and costly to regenerate partial cut Pj stands. If they have a >20% component of Sw it may work and is worth a try but each stand has to have an individual prescription developed for that stand.
13) The Forest Accord was not an agreement with Tourism! How can a group made up of environmental groups make agreements for tourist operators? Term #29 was never accepted by any rep from tourism and was never developed into a term for and used in an FMP.
14) You cannot compare the science from the 1950’s and 1960’s to today. Comparing DDT to the chemicals used today in the forest is wrong. The research and knowledge that is now available is not comparable to 50 years ago. The assumption that the federal or provincial staff would knowing approve use of an agent that would harm people is wrong. The amount of chemicals placed on lawns and golf courses is a far greater risk that the low levels that used to deal with tending issues. It would certainly be better to deal with no chemicals but the alternative is reduced employment and a major reduction in standard of living. Work has already been done all over the boreal forest on all these issues. There are countless studies completed on tending issues. The issue is not new and the solutions have been worked through.
Larry Powell RPF
Really glad to get some response from you on this one.... And sorry if the sarcasm is too thick... That was not the intention... This is serious issue, and I've really tried to tone down my sarcasm to nothing... Maybe it just sounds sarcastic because the things I'm proposing are so basic, and yet aren't happening. Below are my thoughts to your response, point by point...
1- Agree. Biggest problem facing the forestry industry is constant supply of merchantable wood to the mills. There will never be a situation where there are no more trees in Ontario, but there will be a time when most of the mills have to shut down because there is not enough merchantable mature timber in their vicinity... That time is very soon...
2- I've heard that selective harvests are done in southern Ontario more than up north. Why? Closer to the voters? OR is there some other reason...?
3- Agree. There are many times when a conventional gang can do a good job of selectively harvesting... But with huge machines, comes huge trails, and generally more environmental damage... I think that the focus on horse and skidder stuff was for the most environmentally and visually sensitive areas (like shorelines for remote tourism lakes)...
4- I agree that the MOU is not legally binding in itself, but I disagree that its terms are not legally binding. The MOU is a summary of existing legislation which is binding, and the MOU just simplifies its meaning... I think I went over my opinion of the matter in my May paper... But its a point to research...
5- If the deal was struck with the Ontario government, maybe we should try going directly to them to have the stumpage rates reduced... However, with border disputes regarding lumber, maybe a stumpage rate reduction isn't viable right now.... How else would you compensate the forestry companies for their work?
6- I agree that access is the biggest threat to remote tourism. However, if access can’t be stopped legally, then we must rely on the forest to stop overland access. This is why method of harvest is the most important aspect to maintaining a future for remote tourism in Ontario. So, if we can stagger the cuts, and use unconventional methods in northern Ontario, we can continue to use the forest as a catching mitt, preventing unplanned overland access into remote tourism lakes. Our alternative, is to continue harvesting as we do now, and rely on signage / gates / and maybe the odd culvert removal to protect remote tourism values. Pulling the bridges usually work, but too frequently, there is no river to cross to access the area.
7- Glad to hear about your expertise in the field. That’s awesome that there are a handful of operators out there… Do you have a website that details how your CTL operation works? I plan to build one through WhiteMoose.Ca if I can’t find one online…
8- “Selection of trees should not be left to the operator of the harvester.” We’ll I guess that it depends on whose in the seat of the operator. I think that we’re saying the same thing here, but in different ways. Let me try to reconcile the difference.
Phil & I know that the operator must be trained correctly to make a good operator. That’s why its imperative that we have good companies like Decicon training the operators to ensure that the operators are good. To leave training up to multi-national forestry companies with the only goal being share holder profits is not going to work. Nothing would change. Ground walking would definitely be part of the pre-harvest operation, but with the right operators, trained by the right people, and with the correct mentality, I don’t believe a pre-harvest marking would be necessary. Do you have your guys do pre-harvest marking?
9- “We have made efforts across Ont. to get forest companies to consider partial harvest and tending as a reasonable alternative to help protect remote values”… Multi-national Forestry companies are not interested in maintaining remote tourism. They’re interested in maximizing control over the forest and minimizing expenses, thus maximizing profits. How else can you explain why “value added” companies have such a tough time getting wood. Besides, its more profitable in the short term to clear cut. Multi-national Forestry companies will employ CTL for 2 reasons:
A- If its legislated and they have no choice.
B- To impress Green Peace type organizations that are calling for the end of clear cutting in boreal forests. Decicon is used every time Tembec needs certification for how good of a job Tembec is doing. Decicon is used every time Tembec needs to impress potential big investors and show them that they are doing a good environmentally friendly harvest…
How does your company work and what is it used for?
10. I follow you with the CFSA and FMP stuff. I agree that the forestry company is not breaking any law so long as they follow the FMP. However, the MNR is in breach if the FMP doesn’t comply with the CFSA, because they are the organization that must approve the plan. Basically, the MNR is currently in breach on a lot of plans, and I’m sure it’ll come out in court over the next couple years.
11. Agree that only a portion of the forest would work for partial harvest. Phil & I agree that some area’s are best clear cut, like old mature jack pines stands. Some stands are better thinned and others are best to harvest the mature timber and go back in 20 years to harvest again. This is all called intensive forest management. But ask Todd at NOTO for his definition…
12. Agree. Each stand is different, but the current forestry application generally doesn’t change depending on the forest type. Clear cuts are used because its most profitable in the short term, even if it means cutting and burning trees that would be mature and marketable in 10 years. Also, the idea for partial cut stands is that they don’t need to be regenerated by humans. The trees are already growing, and a mature harvest is simply capturing the mortality of the stand. Thus, all the foresters are doing is taking down the trees that would die first, and leaving the immature trees where they are, so that they can be harvested when they’re mature. One thing that I should mention is that I know Decicon spot plants in areas with only scattered pine (where pine was harvested) so that for every pine they cut, they plant at least one in the same spot. Another interesting thing that Phil had mentioned is that he was noticing considerable natural regeneration of pine, especially white pine, after many of his harvests…
13. Article 29: The government seems to want the individual tourist outfitter to pick up all the cost of protecting the industry. I accept that there was no tourism rep present, but can you accept that the government wants the proposed beneficiary to pick up the tab for the protection? Basically, what I’m saying is that the government is the representative of the people, and society as a whole is the beneficiary of diversification of employment. Basically, if the people in general are the ultimate beneficiary of protecting the industry, then the representative of the people, being the government, should pick up the tab.
14. Would you believe that 2, 4-D (one of the herbicides used by forestry companies in Ontario) has been banned in several countries because of suspected adverse health and environmental affects. It’s been linked to cancers, reproductive problems, genetic mutations, non-hodkinsons disease (just to mention a couple). I can send you over some of the information that I’ve dug up on 2, 4-D if you like. It is the active ingredient in Agent Orange and it is the suspected compound for all the problems with Vietnam vets. A Texas court and jury awarded a the family of a deceased forestry worker 1.5 million USD because they found that 2, 4-D had caused his death from long term exposure. Those most at risk from the chemical are foresters, agricultural workers, hunters, and fishermen because they come into contact most often. There have been no studies done on the effects of 2, 4-D on Bears or Moose because scientific evidence indicates that its not needed.
Monsanto tests these chemicals on animals like mice, rats, rabbits, and dogs but not on all animals. However, every animal reacts differently to every chemical. Some chemicals are extremely toxic to humans and do nothing to other animals. Some compounds (like catnip) make animals get high, whereas they do nothing to humans. Bottom line, I’m not so sure that I believe the science and I’m not the only one that’s concerned… Besides, does it really seem like the right thing to do to spray thousands (likely millions) of gallons of chemicals onto the forest and then eat the animals that live there?
Science is nice to back up a position, but remember, science was once used to prove the earth was flat. At another time, the world was the center of the universe while applying to the strictest scientific standards. Vioxx was safe, DDT was safe, nuclear radiation didn’t harm people, cigarettes were very safe (and recommended to help people get thin)…. Maybe the best thing to do to convince the non-believers would be to list all of the scientific blunders throughout the last 200 years to indicate, that it is possible (if not likely) that we are once again wrong. Round-up / Vision kills all leafy plants when sprayed on them but its perfectly safe to drink in its most concentrated form because it runs right through your body. Sure it does. Because Monsanto, the largest multi-national herbicide company in the world would never lie to the public, or selectively release tests which failed to show a positive correlation between their product and adverse health and environmental effects. And government corruption just isn’t possible… Would you believe that I have been talking to labs across the province, the MNR, & Tembec to find a lab that can test for 2, 4-D concentrations in the bear meat I harvested this fall, but it would seem that there is no lab equipped for the analysis. I’m hoping to get up all my contacts and emails on the subject when I get some time, and you can read about it yourself if your interested…
But if I can’t even get support from NOTO, it seems that the paper is going to have to be very persuasive…
P.S. Please get back to me so that we can resolve any questions or problems…