Some Conservation Guidelines for the Acadian Forest

                                                                   By David Orton, Coordinator of the Green Web

    "It is we who must adjust to the forest, not the forest to us."<>

    "If you want the trees to stand, you have to stand with the trees."

    (Below are some brief suggestions for a proposed conservation campaign for the
    Acadian Forest being discussed in environmental circles in the Maritimes.)

        The most fundamental conflicts in forestry are over values: "How do we use the forests?"
    An Acadian forest strategy must focus on the need for a new environmental ethic and the
    corresponding environmental economics.

        Those of us who care about the Acadian forest, as shown by various initiatives, have not
    turned things around, so previous methods of organizing have been unsuccessful. We need
    a new course and vision, that many people can grasp, internalize, and use to defeat those
    powerful interests who consider all of Nature as a collection of "resources" just waiting to
    be consumed by the industrial maw. "Working the existing political/economic system", with
    all the necessary compromises, humiliations and defeats that this entails, which perhaps
    characterizes the CPAWS approach to conservation in Canada, cannot and has not worked.
    A sustainable forestry requires a sustainable society. If the society is unsustainable, this also
    has to be clearly said and not ducked. Industrial consumptive lifestyles and growing
    populations are a major part of the forestry problem, whether for the Acadian or any other
    forest type.

        Anyone who looks around at the forests in the Maritimes sees an ongoing deterioration at
    the hand of industrial forestry. The priorities of industrial capitalist forestry -- pulp and paper
    mills and large saw mills -- determine the forest priorities set by provincial and federal
    governments, hence how the forests are utilized. Industrial forestry interests want to maximize,
    not minimize, wood consumption. Such priorities, for an Acadian conservation strategy, can
    either be accepted or repudiated. We believe they must be totally repudiated.

        The biodiversity and the forest canopy of the Acadian forest must be kept. Clearcutting,
    herbicide and insecticide spraying and the use of capital intensive destructive machinery,
    which degrades the forest and also eliminates the jobs of forest workers, must be opposed.
    Those who destroy the forests, whatever their scale of operation, should suffer definite
    social and criminal sanctions. This should apply to pulp and paper mills, sawmills, and also
    to those who do this among  the ‘owners' of the approximately 30,000 woodlots  in Nova
    Scotia, 16,000 in Prince Edward Island and 35,000 in New Brunswick.

        Industrial forestry orients to a world market, so there can never be enough wood supply.
    Such forestry is part of a larger "grow or die" overall industrial ideology. Any existing
    "protected areas" eventually become coveted for their trees. Crown (public) land is
    basically "spoken for" with this industrial model, another reason that the model itself has to
    be repudiated. Unionized forestry workers -- e.g. those working in pulp and paper mills,
    with their relatively high wages, come to have an economic stake in the existing industrial
    forestry model.

        John Livingston, in his profound 1981 book The Fallacy of Wildlife Conservation,
    pointed out that there can be no ‘rational' argument for wildlife conservation within the
    industrial scheme of human-centered values. Wildlife will always eventually lose out, unless
    there is an entirely new scale of values. Thus, for an Acadian forest strategy which is respectful
    towards wildlife, we need to re-sacralize Nature, similar to past hunter-gatherer societies. We
    need to bring back the sense that animals and plants, along with rocks, oceans, streams and
    mountains, and not just humans, have spiritual and ethical standing. We need an identification
    and solidarity with all life, not just human life. The overall and ultimate ethical community is not
    the human community but the ecological community. Ours should be a deep ecology

        We need to oppose the current absolutist concept of "private property" in woodlands for
    industrial or individual landowners, as well as rejecting overall the viewpoint that the Earth is
    human property. It is the utmost human arrogance to claim that one species -- humans --
    can give itself the ‘right' to own living Nature and other species. No one can own the Earth,
    whether from a state, individual, indigenous, or collective point of view. It is only with a new
    set of values by humankind that the forests can have a future. We need to advocate new
    concepts of usufruct use, the right of use but not "ownership", responsible and accountable
    to communities of all beings. It is our job to articulate such values in an Acadian forest
    campaign. Our social justice concerns must be assessed in this context. When there is a
    clash of species interests, or clash of interests within the human species, then generally the
    human/corporate interest should give way to the overall interests of the forests.

        Some immediate particular suggestions:
    Start to promote and apply ecocentric values, that is a deep ecology perspective, in forestry
    matters, to ensure the survival of the Acadian forest. For example,
            - Support those low impact forestry initiatives now underway in many small woodlots;
            - Call for phasing out the industrial forestry model in the Maritimes, in favour of low
    impact, locally focussed, value-added, worker-intensive, full-canopy-retention selection
    forestry, etc. This period of change to an ecologically appropriate forestry, for the workers
    involved, needs to be compassionately supported by the state.
            - Call for no more wood harvesting from crown lands and the cancellation, without
    compensation, of all industrial leases. Such crown lands must be allowed to "re-wild",
    basically becoming non-exploited, connected protected areas, that is, plant and wildlife
    sanctuaries, with any human intrusion done in a respectful manner. It is from such crown
    lands that aboriginal land claims in the Maritimes will eventually be settled, and what this
    means from an ecocentric and social justice perspective has to be fully debated. Also,
    private woodlot ‘owners' will achieve much better economic returns in the transition period
    out of the industrial forestry model, if  those who economically exploit the forests are forced
    to only purchase non-crown land timber and pulp.
            - Among ourselves, forestry activists in the Maritimes need to make common cause
    with the work of The Northern Forest Forum, published in New Hampshire, which for the
    last ten years has tried to uphold the overall interests of the Acadian forest on the other side
    of the border.

    October 14, 2002

        The following people are generally in support of the above suggested conservation guidelines
        for the Acadian Forest and have contributed to their formulation:
        - Sharon Labchuk, Earth Action, Prince Edward Island
        - Billy MacDonald, Red Tail Nature Awareness, Pictou County, Nova Scotia
        - Mark Brennan, Forest and Protected Areas Campaigner, Pictou County, Nova Scotia
        - Ian Whyte, CPAWS, Ottawa

    Published in shortened form as an Opinion article in The Chronicle Herald, October 17, 2002, under the
    title "New Vision needed for conservation of Acadian forest". Also appeared in shortened version in the
    Prince Edward Island daily The Guardian, on November 1st, 2002.

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