(Below are some brief suggestions for a
conservation campaign for the
Acadian Forest being discussed in environmental circles in the Maritimes.)
The most fundamental
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
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
Anyone who looks around
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.
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
John Livingston, in his
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
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
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
people are generally in support of the above suggested conservation
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
Green Web, R.R. #3, Saltsprings, Nova Scotia, Canada, BOK 1PO
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