Green Web Bulletin #76

    Nova Scotia Forestry and Anti-Environmentalism

                                                                                                                                                        By David Orton


                                        Against the Grain: Foresters and Politics in Nova Scotia
                                        L. Anders Sandberg and Peter Clancy
                                        UBC Press, 2000, 335 pages, paperback
                                        ISBN: 0-7748-0766-0.

            This book review essay has been difficult for me to write, because of the issues raised in the text, my own
        personal involvement, and wanting to be fair to the authors — to accurately represent their position and the
        positions of the seven foresters discussed. There is much I disagree with; however, there is interesting
        forestry information in this book because of the access the authors had to the working foresters discussed,
        as well as to some of the documentary records.

            I am writing from what these two authors would undoubtedly consider a ‘biased’ environmental
        perspective. As someone actively engaged in forestry discussions and in forestry-related struggles  in Nova
        Scotia, I have tried to raise a non-humancentered and social justice perspective on the forests and forestry,
        since moving to this province from British Columbia in 1979. Thus, material in this book from the 1980s on,
        also covers a period which has consumed a part of my life. (1) Industrial forestry is personal for me and my
        family. We live in rural Pictou County, on an old hill farm of about 130 acres which has reverted back to
        woods, but we are surrounded by clearcuts, and the detritus and sounds of industrial forestry. We have had to
        engage in personal battles to stop forestry companies using biocides adjacent to where we live. When the
        wind blows the wrong way, and with certain atmospheric conditions, we can smell the sulphur from the local
        Kimberly-Clark kraft pulp mill.

            There are seven foresters discussed in Against the Grain, covering “the interwar, postwar, and
        contemporary generations”, (2) and each has a separate chapter. Sandberg and Clancy claim that these
        foresters “might have generated (or might yet generate) a more environmentally sound and socially equitable
        kind of forestry.” (3) The authors further claim that these foresters were “against the grain” of past and
        current industrial and government forestry orthodoxies in Nova Scotia. The foresters are discussed in the
        following order: Otto Schierbeck (1881-1941), John Bigelow (1906-1997), Lloyd Hawboldt (died 1997),
        Donald Eldridge (died 1995), David Dwyer (1929-2004), Richard Lord, and Mary Guptill (born 1955). (4)
        The book is heavily footnoted.

            Nova Scotia is rather different from other provinces, from a land ownership perspective, in that there is a
        high degree of “private” ownership. As this book points out, individual and non-industrial owners “own over
        fifty per cent of Nova Scotia’s forest resource.” (5) The Crown (public) lands in the province are mainly
        committed through long-term renewable leases to the pulp mills — Stora-Enso and Scott (now Kimberly
        Clark). (6) Therefore, to increase the supply of wood for pulp or for saw logs selling to an ever-expanding
        world market, meant addressing such individual and non-industrial owners, in an attempt to get them to embrace
        the industrial forestry paradigm. This has been a government policy initiative since about 1977, with the infusion
        of funding for federal-provincial forestry agreements. These agreements were ended in 1993 by the federal
        government, perhaps as part of the overall retrenchment of public sector financing by the Canadian state.

            For increasing numbers of rural residents, the impact of industrial capitalist forestry makes quite clear the
        link between ecosystem destruction and pulp mill pollution, and a declining personal quality of life. Industrial
        profits, relatively high wages for pulp mill workers and some forestry workers, and increasing consumption of
        industrial consumer goods by all of us, have an ecosystem price tag. Or perhaps more theoretically, the
        relationship between ecocentrism and anthropocentrism becomes increasingly clear: industrial forestry can
        mean 24-hour logging activity in one’s neighbourhood; increased activity by ATVs through clearcut and logging
        road access; blowdowns in forests adjacent to clearcuts; spraying drift from herbicides and insecticides; marine
        and air pollution in the vicinity of pulp mills; visual pollution; increased background noise as trees come down
        which formerly muffled road noise and other ‘civilizational’ impacts, etc. Industrial forestry becomes an
        important environmental educator. It also expands political consciousness, as we see how a political elite
        secretly decides that a forest industry is ‘needed’, then hands over public lands to this industry on long term
        leases, along with hydro and tax concessions, low stumpage rates, etc. All government services dedicated
        ostensibly towards forestry are programmed to serve pulp and paper mill interests — regardless of whether
        such services, e.g. forest spraying, conflict with the long-term social interests of the citizenry, or the basic
        ecological interests of the living forests, with all their non-human animal and plant inhabitants.

        My own forest vision
            I embraced deep ecology as a philosophy in 1985, but before this I was treading a similar path. Deep ecology
        is part of the larger green movement — the first social movement in history to advocate a lower material standard
        of living, from the perspective of industrial consumerism. Some key deep ecology ideas are: non human-
        centeredness — humans do not have a privileged position in the community of all beings; necessity for a new
        spiritual relationship to Nature — we come to see the Earth as alive and part of ourselves; industrial capitalist
        society is held responsible for the contemporary ecological crisis; Nature must remain a Commons and not be
        privatized; one must be actively involved in defending Nature and fighting Earth destruction; practice voluntary
        simplicity, minimize consumption and orient bioregionally; and necessity for population reduction, without
        personal coercion.

            My own philosophical bioequity perspective within deep ecology is known as “left biocentrism” — a Left
        anti-industrial and anti-capitalist tendency, increasingly considered part of “the left wing” of the deep ecology
        movement. Prior to adopting deep ecology, I had outlined what an ecological perspective would mean for
        Nova Scotia forestry. This was summarized in my 1983 presentation to the Royal Commission on Forestry,
        “Pulpwood Forestry In Nova Scotia (7):
                “The ecological perspective rejects man’s supposed domination over nature. This
                domination is referred to as the homocentric or anthropocentric viewpoint which
                sees the environment primarily in relationship to how it ‘benefits’ human beings...
                Such a viewpoint is fully compatible with the different but existing forms of political
                economy, e.g. in the United States of America and the Soviet Union... In contrast to
                anthropocentrism is the ecological perspective, where it is seen as necessary that
                people be managed so as to live within the constraints of the ecological system of
                which they are a part. Our existence has to be ecologically as well as socially
                sustainable. The forest then is a living ecosystem of which we are a part and is not to
                be seen mainly as a source of low cost wood fibre for the pulp and paper industry.” (8)

            In a recent article “Some Conservation Guidelines for the Acadian Forest”, (9) endorsed by other
        radical ecocentric forest environmental activists, I further develop this ecological perspective. The article
        points out that, “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.”  The guidelines “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.” There is a 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.” And, as social justice is a vital part of left biocentrism, an
        appropriate social policy for those employed in forestry or the communities supported by such a forestry has
        to be part of any deep ecology inspired alternative: “This period of change to an ecologically appropriate
        forestry, for the workers involved, needs to be compassionately supported by the state.”

            Whether with the foresters discussed in this book, or with those woods’ workers in more fundamental
        opposition to the industrial model at some level (as found among some in the Nova Scotia Woodlot Owners’
        and Operators’ Association), it is taken for granted that: (a) forests should be managed or "restored"; and
        (b) forests can be managed in an ecologically sensitive way.
            I believe that in the coming post-industrial, non-fossil fuel-dependent, sustainable ecocentric society, forests
        should be left "unmanaged." In the long term, this is the best for our fellow non-human community members,
        who need the forests as a home. When we take wood out of the forest, all its ecological functions have to be
        maintained. This is not an anti-logging position; but it can be seen as anti-logging in the context of not accepting
        the unceasing growth demands and population pressures of present industrial society and the orientation to a
        world-wide consumer market, which then becomes reflected in logging practices and their intensity. For such a
        market there can never be sufficient wood supply. A sustainable forestry requires that it be embedded within a
        sustainable society. My position is anti-logging in regard to how logging is presently carried out, whether
        industrial or "alternative” (those associated with the “certification” schemes of the Forest Stewardship Council
        and others, who fill a “green” market demand but leave the basic industrial forestry model untouched).

            There can be no role for clearcutting or forestry poison use (biocides) for forest workers informed by deep
        ecology. The Registered Professional Foresters Association of Nova Scotia and the Canadian Institute of
        Forestry, Nova Scotia Section completely endorse forestry herbicide use by industry or government. (10)
        The justification for “some” clearcutting — that shade intolerant trees require this, will not hold up if the forest
        can experience windthrows (blowdowns), insect blooms and fire, which can open up spaces for shade
        intolerant species, as part of a restored Acadian forest in post-industrial society. However, this will not be
        achievable if forests are only to be viewed as fibre-producing factories for humankind.

            A deep ecology-inspired forestry would mean that non-economic interests are primary in how we approach
        the living forest in a non-resource manner. The non-human life of the Acadian forest has its own inherent value,
        which is quite independent of how we as humans see its usefulness. We humans must adapt ourselves to the
        forest and not expect that the forest adapt itself to us. Current forestry practices, whether industrial or
        “alternative”, ultimately imply that the forests are there to serve human purpose. Generally, “improvement” or
        what is increasingly being called in the Maritimes ”restoration of the Acadian forest”, means economic interests
        are still primary. To “improve” or “restore” the forest, also implies that we know what we are doing ecologically,
        and this is far from the actual situation. No matter what our degree of wisdom, and our humility towards the
        forest, how can we ever really know the complex ecological interrelationships? Even with the best of intentions,
        we can only have partial knowledge of the consequences of our forestry interventions. At best, we are trying to
        patch up. Of course humans need to start on this. But once we have destroyed some functioning forest
        ecosystem, we have often lost something that cannot be replaced.

            People in the existing industrial capitalist society should be able to earn a modest and respectful living from the
        forest, but the focus should be on restoration and low impact forestry, and other rethinking forestry initiatives.
        These would be steps on the path to a deep ecology-inspired forestry in a future truly sustainable society.
        Unmanaged forests in an ecocentric society mean that we need to manage ourselves as consuming human beings.

        The middle ground
                Sandberg and Clancy articulate what they see as a “middle ground” theoretical and practical position,
        between the “extreme views” of the forest industry and the alleged extreme views of environmentalists. (11)
        They also seem to be arguing that the seven foresters they analyse in Against the Grain are in some way an
        illustration of such a position. For the authors this middle ground position is also an example of “moral
        pluralism”, a reconciliation of the interests of humans and animals, and implies an acceptance of both utilitarian
        and intrinsic (biocentric) values. (12) There is an assumption that philosophically and ecologically one can
        merge or harmonize utilitarianism and biocentrism. This is opposed to Aldo Leopold’s (himself a forester, but
        also a “pre-deep ecology” deep ecologist) view that the biotic community must be the ultimate moral and
        ethical authority. As Leopold put it: “A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty
        of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.” (13) It is apparent to me that Against the Grain
shares far more assumptions with industrial forestry than with the environmentalist side of the debate.

            Those who frequently counsel a “middle ground”, “sitting down together” or “round table” position on the
        corporate/government side of an issue, usually have the actual power in an environmental situation. They have a
        personal stake in the ongoing ecological and social destruction carried out under the banner of industrial capitalist
        society. A “middle ground between the ‘extremes’” position, is often seen as necessary to advance a corporate/
        government PR perspective, as a concession to a demand for public input. The authors of Against the Grain
        want to appropriate environmentalism, for example using the Aldo Leopold’s forestry “A” and “B” typology in
        their book, (14) while denying its legitimacy as being "extreme". The authors, as well as the seven foresters
        analysed in Against the Grain, are fundamentally committed towards a commercial forestry, whether for saw
        logs or for pulp. Sandberg and Clancy essentially share the existing human-centered world view of industrial
        forestry towards the forests of Nova Scotia but want a better deal for workers and the communities which are
        directly impacted. If the foresters discussed are “dissenters”, their dissenting is basically a concern that forest
        exploitation for their own species be viable in the long term.

            Mainstream forestry environmentalists could perhaps be seen as having a middle ground position. Some
        misguided mainstream environmentalists think that sitting down with industry or government is getting a foot in
        the door, and something to be sought after. They can be united with more radical environmentalists in opposing
        clearcutting and chemical spraying, against narrowing the species basis of the Acadian forest to favour pulp
        species and want a variety of uses for the forests, not just industrial use. However, they break ranks with their
        more radical colleagues by not openly challenging industrial capitalism: their orientation is basically human-
        centered, and they do not want to be portrayed as ‘radicals’; most are willing to take government and sometimes
        corporate grants; they are prepared to negotiate with corporations and governments and give public praise when
        some minor concession is given; they try to show that the existing political system can be made to work; they will
        not raise the issue of the capitalist growth economy, or increasing populations, or private property relationships,
        or the orientation to the world-wide consumer market, and how these issues impact the practice of industrial

            The forestry profession, and really all aspects of the industrial forestry enterprise, are reinventing themselves
        and selling an image of "caring" professionals at the forefront of ecological change. The 2002 mainstream
        environmental document Forest Accounts: Reporting on the state of Nova Scotia’s forests, (15) reports
        that clearcutting is used 99% of the time and that the area being clearcut has doubled in ten years. Foresters
        regularly invoke the mantra of “site specific” forestry but, for their industrial or government paymasters, one
        clearcut size fits all. Against the Grain fits into this misleading general trend of industrial forestry reinventing itself,
        by air brushing a sample of foresters and presenting them as role models.

        Limited dissent
            All the foresters discussed by Sandberg and Clancy, with the exception of Donald Eldridge, are interesting
        forestry workers who tried to bring about some changes in the areas they worked. However, they did not
        change the overall priorities of industrial capitalist forestry in Nova Scotia. Any changes they made, were made
        within this paradigm of values. Since all these foresters operated within a human-centered frame of reference,
        the changes were usually more on the social justice or social equity side than the environmental or ecological side.

        SOCIAL EQUITY: One of the biases of the authors is the assumption that environmentalists are “simplistic”
        and not concerned about social equity questions. This is really a matter of their writing tone: somehow ecology is
        supposed to exclude social justice concerns. The forester David Dwyer, for example, is presented as an
        advocate of “social forestry” as though these concerns have not been raised by many Nova Scotia
        environmentalists: social forestry we are told, “flows from the recognition that resource use affects people’s life
        prospects, and forest relations should be designed and applied in this light.” (16)

            Anyone engaged in forestry environmentalism rapidly finds out that in Nova Scotia, as elsewhere, those who
        favour the industrial forestry status-quo wrap themselves in the mantle of concern for social equity — jobs for
        workers, spin-off employment benefits, taxation that pays for health care and education, etc. Environmentalists
        try to raise ecological and human health concerns, which are usually smothered over, but they are not, in my
        experience, unconcerned about social equity considerations. For example, in the early 1980s in my
        presentation to the Royal Commission on Forestry, done in the name of the Socialist Environmental Protection
        and Occupational Health Group, I not only advocated various ecological measures, but called for labour-
        intensive, not capital-intensive forestry, and the nationalization of foreign owned timber lands and all foreign
        owned pulp and paper companies in the province. (17) Today, as a left biocentrist, I understand that
        ecocentric justice is much more inclusive than human justice. For the ecocentric Left, what it means to be a
        "deeper" Green, is the primacy of ecocentric consciousness, namely deep ecology, and that social justice,
        while very important, is secondary to such a consciousness.

            Almost all the forest cutting in the province of Nova Scotia is still done as clearcutting. Economic rewards for
        the mills from clearcutting always trump ecological or social equity considerations for other Nova Scotians.
        Forest spraying remains a “management” tool of two out of the three large pulp and paper companies (Bowater
        and Kimberly-Clark). (18) Irving, which is involved in pulp and paper production with a home base in New
        Brunswick, also sprays on its forest land in Nova Scotia. Forest spraying is also used by the Department of
        Natural Resources (formerly Lands and Forests), which is supposed to look after the forests for the public, and
        also by some small woodlot owners. The authors of this book are clearly not against clearcutting or the use of
        poisons as forest biocides. In the summer of 2004, a Department of Natural Resources spokesperson justified
        a crown lands herbicide spraying program by saying, “The province has been using the herbicide Vision for all
        but one of the past 20 years.” (19) It is this provincial department of the Nova Scotia government which
        employed at various times most of the foresters eulogized in Against the Grain as ecological and social role

            Sandberg and Clancy speak of herbicides being a “good thing” for “growing wood fibre rapidly” on “tree
        plantations.” (20) This is pulp and paper forestry language. The authors support and praise forester John Bigelow
        who had a role in bringing the Stora-Enso pulp mill to Nova Scotia, because they support such mills.

            Mary Guptill is praised in the text for her ecological consciousness as a venture group (21) field forester. She
        is the only woman discussed in this book. She is a curious role model because she advocates compromise.
        Perhaps this makes her close to the “middle ground” orientation of the authors:
                “I prefer to work with the situation by trying to find compromises...If you chose sides,
                you are quickly labelled for all time, and you cease to have credibility. The weak lose
                in confrontations. The pulp companies have paid people who fight their battles very
                well, while the weak have volunteers who, once defeated, fall to the wayside.” (22)

            In her presentation to the Royal Commission on Forestry, Guptill justified a discriminating use of clearcutting
        and biocide use: “...the public might be more willing to accept the use of clearcutting and herbicides where they
        are needed and where they are appropriate.” (23) Sandberg and Clancy approvingly note: “Guptill’s approach
        to herbicides was practical: they constituted one tool among many.” (24) Throughout Nova Scotia the
        formerly government-funded venture groups for small woodlot owners were often fought against by rural
        residents, because of their role in promoting clearcutting and forest spraying. These venture groups were tied
        into destructive forestry practices by virtue of government funding requirements. Venture groups are praised
        by Sandberg and Clancy, and by the foresters David Dwyer, Richard Lord and Mary Guptill.

            In discussing the work of Mary Guptill who, within the federal funding/policy restrictions she had to work
        under, tried to respond to local ecological conditions, the authors say, “the local forest was improved and
        brought back into productive use.” (25) Yet can one “improve” a forest and from whose perspective is
        “productive use” determined? Is this from the perspective of a forest plant or animal; from the perspective of a
        pulp mill, or even that of a human being who wants to practice what is referred to as “low impact” selection
        forestry? In speaking of forest management plans developed by Guptill, the authors say: “The implementation
        of management plans was to improve the quality of not only timber but also the wildlife habitat.” (26)

            Richard Lord is equally praised for his role in organizing small woodlot owners and Christmas tree growers
        “as a gifted social organizer and strategist.” (27) Yet the role of the Christmas tree growers in promoting the
        use of biocides in Nova Scotia, where they have played a truly backward role which seriously impacted rural
        residents and the forest ecology, does not even get a mention in Against the Grain. (28) For Sandberg and
        Clancy, Christmas tree groups are “progressive voluntary associations.” (29)

            Lloyd Hawboldt is the odd person among the foresters listed in Against the Grain, in that he was trained
        as a forest entomologist, not a forester. He is the most interesting from an environmental perspective. He was
        also odd in the above company of foresters because of his role in publicly speaking out against the proposed
        spruce budworm spraying in the late 1970s, as acknowledged in several places in Elizabeth May’s 1982 book
        Budworm Battles. (30) One can say his was a voice for ecological change on the issue of forestry biocide use.
        The authors arrogantly, and I believe falsely, claim that this forester “provided the intellectual foundation for the
        environmental movement that, succeeded in pressuring the provincial government to implement a spray ban in
        1976.” (31) In 1955, Hawboldt wrote an important anti-forest spraying document called “Toward ‘Budworm-
        Proofing’ the forests of Nova Scotia.”
In it he said: “Spraying to keep trees green until these can be
        harvested is not an acceptable alternative to forest management.” (32) Normally, forest entomologists in the
        provincial Department of Natural Resources have been outspoken apologists for every chemical and biological
        forest spraying program carried out by the forest industry — whether by pulp mill or small forest owner, or the
        Department itself. Hawboldt saw that insect blooms stem directly from clearcutting, which of course is
        prioritized because of its profit making potential. (33) Hawboldt did however advocate blueberry production,
        with all the use of biocides that this entails. (34) In the foreword to the 1988 Lands and Forests publication
        Forestkeeper, Hawboldt misleadingly spoke of the forester Wilfrid Creighton, as having “moved the reputation
        of Nova Scotia into the front ranks of forestry.” (35) This is a whitewash. It should read that Nova Scotia was
        in the front ranks of forest destruction. Hawboldt is also misleading and equally eulogistic, when in the same
        foreword he refers to the two foresters Ralph Johnson (36) and Wilfrid Creighton (37), as having earned
        “the title of father of forestry in Nova Scotia.” (38) For Hawboldt, as for Johnson and Creighton and all the
        foresters discussed in Against the Grain, it is unquestioned that all forests on this Earth are primarily
        “woodlots” for human/corporate use. (39)

            From my perspective, unlike the other foresters discussed in Against the Grain, Donald Eldridge played
        a reactionary role in forestry in Nova Scotia. He was deputy minister of Lands and Forests and an open
        spokesperson for industrial forestry interests within the government; he was also for some years the executive
        director for the trade association, the Nova Scotia Forest Products Association, which has consistently
        defended the interests of the pulp and paper industry and the industrial capitalist forestry status-quo. Eldridge
        displayed open hostility towards environmentalists and small woodlot owners and their causes. That Eldridge,
        as a hunter and fisherman, had some sentiment for protecting wildlife habitat in order to ‘produce’ the game to
        be consumed by people like himself, lauded in this book, is quite minor in the overall scheme of things, given
        his life-long priorities of facilitating the ascendancy of pulpmill forestry. His inclusion by the authors shows that
        the concept of “against the grain” is vacuous, if it can include this pulp and paper spokesperson. It is also
        embarrassing for the work of the six other foresters, to be grouped with such a person. These six, looking at
        the data presented in the book, were however not the exemplary role models for social and ecological change
        within forestry which Sandberg and Clancy claim.

        DRESCHER EXCLUDED FROM THIS BOOK: Against the Grain mysteriously excludes the one forester,
        Jim Drescher, who might be considered truly as an alternative forester.  Jim Drescher is not even mentioned, yet
        he has played an exemplary teaching role within forestry in Nova Scotia. He is a professionally trained forester,
        a poet and a Buddhist. Sandberg and Clancy would probably refer to him as a “so-called ecoforester.” (40)
        Drescher’s practical work, in which education plays a large role, has shown to others how to earn a living
        from the Acadian forest in a sustainable manner and the necessity to publicly speak out, along with fellow
        environmentalists, for ending the reign of industrial forestry (not an embraceable cause for this book). Through
        his work, particularly at his farm/forestry operation — “Windhorse Farm” in Lunenburg County — but also
        through his theoretical writings and public interventions, he has argued for a Nova Scotia-based alternative to
        the industrial forestry model and is widely recognized for this. What would probably set Drescher apart for
        the authors of this book, is that he has allied himself with those who publicly identify themselves as on the
        “environmentalist” side of the ongoing forestry debate. Drescher has played a similar “alternative forestry”
        teaching role in Nova Scotia to that of the eco-forester Herb Hammond in British Columbia. The Fall 2003
        issue of Canadian Silviculture contains an article by the Prince Edward Island Forest Improvement
        Association, which has this to say about Drescher’s work in Nova Scotia:
                “A van-load of PEI forest owners visited Jim Drescher of Windhorse Farms
                ( This is truly a worthwhile visit to see the best forest in
                Nova Scotia and the many values placed on the large standing and harvested
                hemlock. A tour with Jim provides wonderful insight into the spiritual and
                ecological forest processes while providing an independent income for 7 families
                with the harvested and finished wood products.”

            The language used by the foresters and the authors in Against the Grain illustrates that their world view is
        basically human-centered — no matter how many invocations of the “ecology” word — and, in essence,
        anti-ecological. The forest is viewed from the perspective of how much value humans place on it, and the
        language reflects this. Living trees are a “resource” for human/corporate use as “wood fibre”, hence the
        uncritical use of the term “woodlot” throughout this book. This term is human-centered and implies that the
        main purpose of a forest is to produce timber for human use. “Management” of the forests is assumed and
        is considered a good thing, to “improve” the basic forest not only from a human perspective but from a
        perspective of allegedly enhancing the quality of life of all other forest-dwelling species. The language of
        “infestations” for the spruce budworm is unquestioned by the authors, and insects which impact forests
        commercially are “pests.” Terms like “mature”, “overmature woodlands”,  “merchantable stock” and “fibre
        production”  are uncritically used. All these terms encompass a human-centered philosophical world view for
        the forests and the natural world.

            This discussion of the very limited forestry dissent presented in Against the Grain shows that it
        misrepresents the ecological and social equity influence of the seven foresters discussed. It also shows that the
        authors embrace the ethos of industrial forestry by accepting clearcutting and forest spraying plus the overall
        pulp mill orientation of industrial forestry, and the human-centered language of this forestry model.

            Sandberg and Clancy also minimize and misrepresent the influence of environmentalists on forestry debates
        within Nova Scotia. The sparse references in this text to Nova Scotian environmentalists are to mainstream
        people, e.g. Elizabeth May and Aaron Schneider. They have done good work, but mainly from a human-
        centered position and an approach of acceptance of the existing industrial capitalist system, trying to make it
        work as it interacts with forests and forestry. There is a section on the “Environmental Challenge” in the
        chapter on Donald Eldridge, just over three pages in a book of over 300 pages, and some brief, mainly
        dismissive, mention of environmentalism in the concluding chapter.

            This book exaggerates the significance of the seven foresters discussed, for what has been happening in
        Nova Scotia, in regard to theoretical or practical alternatives to industrial forestry and its taken-for-granted
        priorities. It presents these foresters falsely, as some kind of alternative which can “transcend the
        environmentalist/industrial divide” (41). Yet to my knowledge, none of the foresters discussed have publicly
        tried to mobilize others and argued for an alternative to the industrial forestry paradigm on ecological or
        social equity grounds. None has openly opposed the expansionary industrial society which shapes and
        conditions the practised forestry. Whatever dissent these foresters expressed, while appreciated by critics
        of industrial forestry, has been circumspect and has not placed their jobs as foresters in evident jeopardy.

            In order to promote the significance of the foresters discussed, it is apparently necessary to misrepresent
        the environmental forestry critique in Nova Scotia. The book does this in several ways. At its crudest, it
        presents “environmental advocates” in regard to forestry in an absolutist “preserve it all” (42) position, which
        is untrue generally and in particular for Nova Scotia. It is the forest industry which normally wants to maintain
        all the woods for industrial forestry and fights fiercely against “withdrawals” of forest land for parks or other
        protected areas for non-industrial use.

            Against the Grain characterizes environmentalism falsely as an “immutable mobile” (43) using the
        terminology of the sociologist Bruno Latour, who defines it as: “uniform, standardized, and unchanging methods
        that can be transferred and applied to any geographic context.” (44) The foresters discussed are presented as
        advocates of “mutable immobiles”, considered as good from the authors’ perspective: “highly flexible methods
        restricted to local application in a specific place.” (45)

            While attacking environmentalism is a general major theme of the book, Sandberg and Clancy try to
        appropriate environmentalism. They do this by wrapping themselves in “ecology “ language. The authors fail to
        present that Nova Scotia has had a range of articulated environmental forestry positions. These vary from a
        variety of mainstream or “shallow” positions, essentially shaped by an acceptance of the overall direction of
        industrial society and its basic values, to a minority tendency shaped since the mid 1980s by a radical deep
        ecology consciousness which rejects industrial capitalist forestry and its basic assumptions. The authors pride
        themselves on articulating “the subtleties and dissensions within forestry and among foresters historically.” (46)
        They accuse environmentalists of being unaware of these subtleties. Yet they themselves fail to see and
        articulate such subtleties among the environmentalists who have fought, and continue to fight, industrial forestry
        in Nova Scotia.

            Environmentalists are generally characterized as “extremist”, a dominant thrust in Against the Grain. They
        are vulgarly smeared as ignorant, “ideological” know-nothings. The conclusion to this book, speaking of
        environmentalists, clearly shows this:
                “The critics are ideological to the extent that they lose touch with practical reality,
                neglecting the economic importance of primary forest production and dismissing the
                sophisticated technical foundations of modern forest maintenance. Furthermore, the
                critics see an undifferentiated ‘nature’ as the wellspring of an alternative forestry
                (implying that commercially inspired forestry is somehow ‘unnatural’), calling for the
                preservation of old-growth or virgin forest stands (with little apparent awareness that
                today’s stands are the product of complex successional processes), and equating
                ecological sensitivity with non-economic values (suggesting that foresters are ignorant
                or dismissive of nature in the round).” (47)

            Notwithstanding the above comments, the book at one point correctly notes in a discussion of the pulp and
        paper forester Donald Eldridge: “Environmentalists were responsible for shaping some of the most important
        forest policy questions of the era.” (48) Sandberg and Clancy also give a definition of “environmentalism”
        which is much closer to deep ecology (not mentioned in this text), that is, to biocentrism or ecocentrism, than
        to the mainstream forestry environmentalism typically encountered in Nova Scotia: “This ideology springs from
        a belief in the primacy of nature as defined against civilization and the repudiation of humans as the
        predominant species.” (49)

            I believe that environmental views on forests and forestry in Nova Scotia — that have ranged from reformist
        to radical — have been the driving force undermining the intellectual hegemony of the industrial forestry status
        quo in the public’s eyes. It is however true that in the last few years a re-vitalized Nova Scotia Woodlot
        Owners’ And Operators’ Association has significantly contributed to this undermining. The Association is the
        oldest woodlot group in the province. It now focuses on “low impact” forestry, as shown in the Field Days
        which have been held, and the featured alternative speakers like eco-forester Jim Drescher at its Annual
        Meetings. What we see is that the Association has moved to embrace more an ecological path (not without
        contradictions and sending out mixed messages in its promotional material) which, while still human-centered,
        is an important step forward as the contemporary Mission statement shows: “Truly sustainable forest
        management means that all values of our woodlands - ecological, social, cultural and economic - must be
        preserved for future generations.” (50) It is interesting to compare this with a 1969 statement by the same
        Association when the forester Richard Lord was involved, and when the announced goals were strictly
        self-interest and economic. (51) Overall, I believe the forest workers who have played leadership roles in the
        recent articulated policies of the woodlot owners are better forestry role models, and more against the
        industrial forestry grain, than the professional foresters discussed and promoted by Sandberg and Clancy. The
        Association has not yet openly embraced deep ecology, but some of the language being used reflects a growing
        Earth-centered consciousness. Many women participate in the Field Days. Recent Field Days have also
        featured the Gaia Singers, a group of about 15 women singing Earth-centered songs as a part of the activity

            The forestry industry still essentially conditions/directs provincial and federal government forestry policies.
        Yet the public perception of the ecological and social destructiveness of industrial forestry has definitely
        changed, as revealed by any number of opinion polls. This public perception has tilted against the existing
        forest industry practices: clearcutting; forest spraying; narrowing the species basis of the Acadian forest for
        pulp and lumber interests; promotion of even-aged softwood forest stands; the destruction of wildlife and
        wildlife habitats; the air and water pollution from the mills; elimination of jobs in the woods due to massive
        mechanization; monopolization of Crown lands for industrial interests in long-term leasing arrangements and
        the systematic government/forest industry sabotage of attempts to use such lands for additional protected
        areas in Nova Scotia, etc. Also, the rise of “forest certification” in the Maritimes through Forest Stewardship
        Council initiatives, inherently flawed as it is - because, among other things, a sustainable forestry ultimately
        requires a sustainable society - is another indicator of a public trying to exert leverage on how industrial
        forestry is conducted.

            I recommend Against the Grain: Foresters and Politics in Nova Scotia, to those who are interested
        in forestry politics in Nova Scotia; and, more importantly, to those interested in the major ongoing
        environmental issue in this province, the destruction of the Acadian forest and how to change this. There is
        interesting information in this book for the forestry activist, because of the inside access of the authors to the
        historical records and to various foresters who worked within government and industry, and had to
        implement or contend with various forestry policies in Nova Scotia. I recommend it, even though I disagree
        with and reject the “middle ground” orientation of the authors; reject the vulgar and ignorant parody given of
        forest environmental positions in N.S. in this book, which ultimately has to be seen as reactionary (see the
        description of “ideological” environmentalists); and reject the overall eulogistic evaluation of the foresters
        discussed by the authors. This book highly exaggerates the importance of the foresters discussed and,
        apparently, can only do this by ignoring or misrepresenting the extensive contributions by environmentalists
        to forest discussions in Nova Scotia. This book has also forced me to look more closely at the evolution of
        small woodlot owners and their attitude towards what they see as an appropriate alternative forestry - low
        impact or Acadian “restoration” forestry.

            Reading this book, it becomes necessary to ask, what does it mean for “dissenting” scholars, and for
        radical forestry scholarship more generally, if university-based researchers publicly ally themselves essentially
        against the environmental movement with a “middle ground” theoretical position and climb on the anti-
        environmentalist bandwagon? This is not just choosing a middle ground position between culture and nature,
        as claimed. In their penchant for slagging environmentalists, they lean far more to a cultural post-modern
        “social construction of reality” side, and away from a view that Nature has a material existence in its own right,
        irrespective of how it is viewed by culture. We see in this book an acceptance of the culturally justified
        exploitation of the forests in Canada by industrial forestry. Is this all part of the price for “access” to those who
        work in the forest industry as professional foresters or others, so that articles and books can be written? At its
        core, Against the Grain is a university-based elitist put-down of the many hundreds of Nova Scotians who,
        since the late 1970s, educated themselves to fight against the policies of industrial forestry and to change the
        public debate in the province. This book shows that with its sustained attack on environmentalism and
        environmental activists working on forestry issues in Nova Scotia, however otherwise insightful, Anders
        Sandberg and Peter Clancy have “crossed over” and are firmly grounded within industrial forestry.

                                                                                                    January 2004. Updated and revised October 2004.

            David Orton is the coordinator of the Green Web, an environmental research and green philosophy
            group in Nova Scotia.

            A partial review of this article was published in the January 2004 edition of the Environment, Technology and Society
Newsletter of the American Sociological Association, see


        End Notes

        1. See forestry-related writings on the Green Web Literature list of publications on our web site:

        2. Sandberg, L. Anders and Clancy, Peter. Against the Grain: Foresters and Politics in Nova Scotia,
        (Vancouver, UBC Press, 2000), p.19.

        3. Ibid, p.272.

        4. The birth and death information for the foresters is incomplete. It had to be put together or deduced from
        scattered data in the text or footnotes and is nowhere systematically presented.

        5. Against the Grain, p.233.

        6. Bowater does not now have any Crown leases. It owns about 243,000 hectares of forested land in
        Western Nova Scotia. (The Chronicle Herald, March 10, 1998.)

        7. Orton, David. Pulpwood Forestry In Nova Scotia And The Environmental Question (Gorsebrook
        Research Institute For Atlantic Canada Studies, Saint Mary’s University, Halifax, undated).

        8. Ibid, pp. 4-5.

        9. The Northern Forest Forum, Winter Solstice 2002, Volume 9, No. 4.

        10. Mac Barkhouse, chairman Canadian Institute of Forestry (Nova Scotia Section) and Allan Eddy, president
        of the Registered Professional Foresters Association of Nova Scotia, “Adding facts and fuel to the herbicide
(The Chronicle Herald, September 23, 2004.)

        11. Against the Grain, p.289.

        12. Ibid, p.289.

        13. Leopold, Aldo. A Sand County Almanac: With Essays on Conservation from Round River, (New
        York, Ballantine Books, 1970), p.262.

        14. Ibid, p.258-261.

        15. Forest Accounts: Reporting on the state of Nova Scotia’s forests, Spring/Summer 2002. Source
        materials for this document to be found in The Nova Scotia Genuine Progress Index Forest Accounts
        Volume 1: Indicators of Ecological, Economic and Social Values of Forest in Nova Scotia, 2001, by
        Sara Wilson and Ronald Colman, and Volume 2: A Way Forward - Case Studies in Sustainable Forestry,
, by Linda Pannozzo and Minga O’Brien. These are available from

        16. Against the Grain, pp. 282-283.

        17. Pulpwood Forestry In Nova Scotia And The Environmental Question, pp. 21-22.

        18. I do not know the real reason(s) why Stora-Enso has stopped spraying. In the past, this pulp and paper
        company, the largest in Nova Scotia, fought very hard and rough against environmentalists on this issue. In the
        summer of 2004, during an upsurge in agitation against forest herbicide spraying, Stora-Enso company
        spokeswoman Patricia Dietz was cited in the The Chronicle Herald (August 31, 2004), where she
        noted that her company had stopped spraying in 1997: "the company has no health or safety concerns
        about proper use of herbicides but stopped because it wanted consistency in its international operations."
        For years, a friend who is a summer resident in Guysborough County, spent much of his time
        unsuccessfully trying to stop the dumping of herbicides by Stora in the vicinity of his summer cottage.
        My friend always maintained that Stora had a colonial attitude towards Nova Scotia, following forestry
        policies in our province which would not be acceptable in Sweden, where the company was then

        19.  Statement by Mary Anna Jollymore, spokesperson for the Department of Natural Resources.
        (The Chronicle Herald, August 26, 2004.)

        20. Against the Grain, p. 261.

        21. The venture groups were an organizational form designed to bring small forest owners on board
        with the goals of industrial forestry. They were funded mainly by the federal government, starting in
        1977. The government ended this funding in 1995, and the approximately 18 venture groups then
        in the province had to go it alone or go under. Mary Guptill worked for about ten years for an
        Acadian venture group in Digby County "La Foret Acadienne".

        22. Against the Grain, p. 264.

        23. Ibid, p. 261.

        24. Ibid, p. 260.

        25. Ibid, pp. 262-263.

        26. Ibid, p. 270.

        27. Ibid, p. 201.

        28. Green Web Bulletin #3, "Christmas Tree Cultivation: Open Season on Pesticides",
        March 1988 gives a critical ecological overview of this industry. This Bulletin lists the over 40
        biocides recommended for use at that time by Christmas tree growers.

        29. Against the Grain, p. 232.

       30. May, Elizabeth. Budworm Battles: The fight to stop the aerial insecticide spraying
        of the forests of Eastern Canada
, (Four East Publications Ltd, 1982). This book is also
        quite revealing about May's basic beliefs and her flair for self-promotion.

        31. Against the Grain, p.281.

        32. Ibid, p. 131.

        33.  My own 1987 article, "The Case Against Forest Spraying with the Bacterial
        Insecticide Bt"
, in  Alternatives, Vol. 15, No. 1, also outlines the industrial forestry
        practices which produce conditions ripe for the budworm. My position against Bt spraying
        was in opposition, in the early 1980s, to that of Elizabeth May, the Ecology Action Center
        and most mainstream environmentalists. At that time the mainstream environmentalist
        position was that Bt could be used "without poisoning the environment." See Budworm
, p.132.

        34.  See  Green Web Bulletin #1, "Blueberry Spraying: A Chemical Horror Story"
        (November 1988), for a list of the biocides used at that time in lowbush blueberry

        35. Lloyd S. Hawboldt. "Foreword", p. xi, in Forestkeeping: A History Of The
        Department Of Lands and Forests In Nova Scotia 1926-1969
, by Dr. Wilfrid
        Creighton, (Halifax, Department of Lands and Forests, 1988).

        36.  Johnson, Ralph S.  Forests of Nova Scotia: A History, (Halifax, Department
        of Lands and Forests, 1986).

        37. Creighton, Forestkeeping.

        38. Ibid, p. x.

        39. For my evaluation of Johnson and Creighton, see the 2002 review essay "'Sustainable'
        Forestry in Nova Scotia?"
(The Northern Forest Forum, Winter Solstice 2002,
        Volume 9, No. 4.) I make the following point in my review of their forestry books:
        "The fundamental critique of industrial forestry in Nova Scotia has not come from
        its supporters/practitioners within government, or from the
forest industry itself, but
        from the outside. Any critical comments by
Creighton or Johnson in their books seem
        tepid compared to the past work
done by environmentalists like Charlie Restino,
        Geoffrey and Elizabeth May,
Rudi Haase, Neal Livingston, myself and other
, p. 27.

        40. Against the Grain, p. 291. The term "so-called ecoforesters" seems to be applied by
        Sandberg and Clancy to people like Chris Maser, Alan Drengson and Duncan Taylor. All
        three have been associated with support for deep ecology.

        41. Against the Grain, p. 289.

        42. Ibid, p. 273.

        43. Ibid, p. 287.

        44. Ibid, p. 271.

        45. Ibid, p. 272.

        46. Ibid, p. 101.

        47. Ibid, p. 287.

        48. Ibid, p. 146.

        49. Ibid, p. 149

        50. Taken from a leaflet giving a "Strategic Framework 2002-2007" and also advertising a
        Forest Stewardship Council meeting, put out by the Nova Scotia Woodlot Owners' And
        Operators' Association.

        51. Against the Grain, pp. 208-209.

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