Trouble In The Woods
Forest Policy and Social Conflict in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick
edited by L. Anders Sandberg, Fredericton: Acadiensis Press, 1992.

                                                                                                    A book review by David Orton

            Trouble In The Woods is a book of essays, which brings a blow-by-blow historical perspective, "to
        document the process of consolidation of power by the forest industry and the provincial government, and
        to record the struggles of the men and women challenging that power structure." But the main theme is of
        the emergence and dominance of the pulp and paper industry in the two Maritime provinces, assisted by
        provincial and federal governments. Another theme is a helpful, historical discussion of woodlot owner
        organizing in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, and the organizing of province-wide Pulpwood
        Marketing Boards, successful in N.B., unsuccessful in N.S. There are also two N.B. sawmilling studies,
        and articles on forest policy and legislation, and land ownership in N.S. The book is heavily footnoted
        and written from the perspective of  the archives.

            There are eight essays in this book, plus an introduction and a conclusion. Two of the essays are in
        French. There are abstracts of each essay in the other language. The contributors, as listed, with perhaps
        one exception, are academics: L. Anders Sandberg, Raymond Léger, Serge Côté, Nancy Colpitts,
        Bill Parenteau, Peter Clancy, Glyn Bissix, and Kell Antoft.

            This book is quite unlike other recent forestry books being used by activists in the Maritimes, which
        come out of actual involvement on the ground, such as Maine-based Mitch Lansky's, Beyond the Beauty
        Strip: Saving What's Left of Our Forests
; or B.C.-based Herb Hammond's, Seeing The Forest
        Among the Trees: The Case For Wholistic Forest Use
; or the pamphlet, The Forests Of
        Newfoundland: An Alternative View
, by the Humber Environment Action Group Forest Committee;
        and the recent Clearcut: The Tragedy Of Industrial Forestry, with its essays by activists and pictures
        of clearcuts from Canada and the U.S. which touch the soul.

            The essays have an anthropocentric orientation and are mainly about some "human" troubles, particularly
        those faced by woodlot owners, forest and pulpmill workers, and logging contractors. The habitat needs,
        for example, of pine marten or pileated woodpeckers - which are destroyed by pulpwood forestry, are not
        part of the discourse.

            The conclusion, by Clancy and Sandberg, "Maritime Forest Sector Development: A Question of Hard
, gives an interesting overview. However, it also shows clearly the basic assumptions and limitations,
        of the "left" (social democratic) perspective in this book.

        Readers will find that:
        - "Development" is good and unquestioned.
        - Pulp mills are good and we need "the goal of maximum production" in the forests of the Maritimes.
        - "The closure of plants is never welcome", but worker ownership with state support is okay. Presumably,
            the poisons discharged by such worker-controlled mills or the type of pulpwood forestry which would feed
            such mills, is okay.
        - The intervention of the State is needed to solve the problems of woodlot owners or pulpmill workers.
        - Woodlot owners and pulp and paper mill workers are not part of the problem, in regards to what is happening
            in and to the woods.
        - Wood is a "resource", and Sweden is the model for how it should be grown, utilized, and the spoils divided.

            Sweden, contrary to what is put forward in Trouble In The Woods, (and by some voices within the pulp
        and paper industry itself), is no model for forestry in the Maritimes. While Sweden has solved the problem of
        growing "timber" through tree plantations, this has been at the expense of the biodiversity of its original forests.
        From an ecological perspective, the Swedish model shows how to destroy the original forest ecology and yet
        how to do well economically for the industry - and woodlot owners. It is a "successful" example of the industrial
        development model, under social democratic guidance. The Swedish Society for Nature Conservation, in its
        English  pamphlet, Sweden: Timber vs. Forest, says that many common forest species of plants, animals and
        fungi, have declined dramatically because of Swedish production-oriented timber growing. That there are now
        1,000 forest species on the official endangered species list.

            Pulpwood forestry severely impacts on human communities. But social progress cannot be identified with
        "development", that is, economic growth. Ultimately, any social perspective on the forests, has to take account
        of what Wolfgang Sachs has called, reinventing economic institutions, so that people can "live gracefully
        without making them prisoners of the pernicious drive to accumulate". Most forestry activists will see this
        book, as written by persons not practically involved in fighting the forest industry and its destruction of the
        plants, animals and microorganisms, which make up the Acadian forest community, as well as being bound
        by the social democratic assumptions of the good life. This then becomes reflected in the analysis. There is
        no alternative green vision of the forest offered, rooted in a belief that the forest has to be valued in its own
        right, irrespective of any usefulness for human needs, and that economics has to be subordinate to ecology.
        Modern industrial "forestry" in the Maritimes, as elsewhere, which has embraced the pulpwood forestry
        paradigm, eliminates social and ecological options. Pulpwood monocultures in forestry, develop side by side
        with global cultural monocultures.

                                                                                                                            January 22, 1993

Printed in  Canadian Dimension, October-November 1994, Vol. 28, No. 5. A  shortened version published in Wild Lands Advocate,
 the news quarterly of the Alberta Wilderness Association, October 1993,  under the title, "No Green Vision Of The Forest."

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