The Forest Around Us



Bill Moore

How to sell a forest
....“Oh, so you’re a logger—one of those fellows that goes out and destroys our forests!”—great quote—or how about “you’re filling the air with smoke from mills and slash fires, and you’re not even content with that, you have to ruin all the salmon streams too!” Now there’s a couple of comments that should make everyone working in this forest industry feel glad he’s alive. But let me tell you brothers and sisters, that is a situation that prevails, as Mr. James Durante would say. There are people that talk like that today, a lot of people, people who should be paid attention to.
....Like school children, now who really cares about what children say? After all they don’t have the vote, and anyway they most probably heard it from some poorly informed school teacher or even a misguided parent. But wait now, school teachers and parents are adults, and they have the vote. Leaping Lizards, why should these kind of people call us destroyers of forests and killers of innocent fish?
....Take stock brothers and sisters of the great mighty forest industry, there’s someone not in love with you. You know you might get a hang up or a trauma, or you might get overly defensive in your irritation over the realization that there is no love affair with you and some school teachers, parents—eg. public—(Public!)
....Public! You mean that the public doesn’t understand us. That B.C. depends on its forest industry for fifty cents out of every dollar, that the forest industry builds roads that tourists can use, that it gives jobs to tens of thousands of people. So well so what, these certain school teachers, certain parents, certain store clerks, certain postmen etc. still say, “But why do you do like you do?” And the more you think about it, just why do we do like we do? Maybe because that is the way we have been doing it for so long it’s become a habit. And every parent knows, good or bad habits are hard to break.
....It’s a subject that is easy to write about, but difficult to translate into facts and proof. That subject being the Selling of a Forest, the forest around us in Canada. But I am convinced of one simple fact, we have entered a new era that is going to affect all of us in this forest industry. By all of us I mean boards of directors, woods foremen, labor leaders, foresters, pulp mill superintendents, logging contractors, et al. That new era cannot now be diverted or pushed aside, for there are just too many factors involved in its making. The key to the era is change.
....What changes! Don’t you realize that B.C. depends on her forest industry! Why if the government, or the unions, or the public, or (Heaven forbid) those Attila like environmentalists want all those changes—they’d better take care. This industry has got her problems and we are trying our hardest to solve those problems. We are working on the pollution problem. We are working on the multiple-use problem. We are trying to be careful of
salmon streams. But we have got to use economic sense about all these things. We have our shareholders to consider. We just can’t close a mill down and lay people off work because there is a pollution problem with that mill. We need time!
....Well fellow forest people, you will be given time, but not as much as you would like to have. You are under pressure and that pressure will mount. It is the same sort of pressure, for change, that is taking place in all parts of the world today. It is not just pointed at the forest industry of B.C. It takes on campus rebellion in the country that has built the greatest educational system the world has ever known. It takes on black rebellion by a people that know their status is not the same as the whites. It takes on establishment rebellion by young people, in many countries, who simply do not want to follow in their father’s or forefather’s traditions. And worst of all, it takes on war that is complex and difficult for we laymen to understand. We are in a revolution not just a change, and revolutions are real and they hurt and they sometimes throw common sense and economic necessity away.
....I would like to quote to you the end of a very fine talk entitled “The Changing Environment—given by Dr. J.F.A. de Soet, the general manager of K.L.M. Dutch Airlines to a group in Holland a year ago.
....“These things we know about the future:
........It will not be like the past,
........It will not be what we think it will be like.
....The rate of change will again be faster tomorrow, than it is already today.”
....He concludes—
....“The main features of the 70’s will be change and obsolescence. Obsolescence is organization, in equipment, and worst of all, in people. Companies are people. Most companies are alike, only people make them different. The most important assets of any organization are the people comprising it, for upon people depends the effectiveness of the use of all the other costly assets, buildings, machines, money, materials and techniques.
....“With a lot of negligent employees you don’t need competitors.”
....“Technology will not only produce information or products. It will take over decision making. An increasing number of decisions shall not be based anymore on extrapolation or earlier experiences, as was the case up until now! More and more decisions will concern problems that are unknown so far, or totally new! Right at the center will stay the role of the entrepreneur, who with the help of all the know how, knowledge and specialists, will have to continue to take the ultimate risk and responsibility. Those who find themselves uncomfortable around accelerated change, brand new life styles, battered beliefs, and scattered standards “
I find too many “uncomfortable” people in responsible positions, in this industry today, hiding themselves in defensive arena, from where they yell out such progressive laments as—“it’s the environmentalists’ fault.” “It’s the unions’ fault,”
British Columbia Lumberman, March, 1973
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“It’s our young peoples’ fault, they won’t work.” It seems it’s everyone’s fault but thine and mine! Now chaps I say!
This industry has a forest to sell and before we can even think about buyers, we have to make sure we have the ability to sell. We need our own house in order before we can go out and sell houses, or pulp, or fence posts to the buyers. It so happens that a lot of our own people and their friends and their relatives are en-vironmentalists, so why attack them. Our own people in the industry make up the union, so why make war with ourselves. And as for the young people not working and causing unemployment, of course, they are not working, lots of them, but has this industry in the past ever been known for its great youth training programs? Think on that one.
....A defensive shell may be all right as a last resort, when you are flat on your back, but this industry is not flat on its back. It is very much in there. And it needs people in responsible positions to stand out and say so. Not run to their “quiet little coves” and snipe away at the realities of this changing world.
....There never was a better time to invite the environmentalists in. Listen to them, and react with them. There never was a better time to go to union leaders and sincerely work out a joint endeavor to make all our industry a safer place to work in. And there was certainly never a better time to start working on some real live programs for youth, to let them see that a job in forestry need not be “a part of the rip-off.” Imagination, some daring, some risk, and some trust in ourselves and our people is what is needed by the responsible ones.
....This industry has problems, so has all industry today. But I put it to you., that a great many of those problems have been brought on by not keeping alert to the changing way of life in this world today. The problem of the environment can be changed to an asset for our industry if we get out of the defensive arena and go out and find out what the shouting is all about. Ignorance, tunnel-vision, and an inability to try to understand other people will only widen the gap between this industry and its critics.
....Sure, I belong to the forest industry and some people say we are destroying the forests, sure it’s true that logging disturbs the natural balance of nature. Sure I would rather look at a forested hillside than a slash hillside. And sure we haven’t always util-ized the full amount of trees we fall or let blow down or sink before they get to market. Sure we can be accused of wastefulness in the past, and even now. But that doesn’t make everyone in this forest industry a criminal or even an accessory to the fact. Even industry, and every people of this world down through its history have wasted. Food, material, machines and far worse, we have wasted people.
....But these accusations, real or unreal as the case may be, do not mean that we are unable to change. Newspaper headlines are not difficult to come by if you can yell loud enough today. And it is easy to fall into a defensive arena if one gets a trauma over such headlines. We do not have an industry to defend. We have an industry that is needed. And if some changes are needed in that industry to keep abreast of the changing times, then let’s invite the critics in and hear what they have to contribute. And lets talk to the teachers and the parents, and to the children too—vote or no vote—and by changing our old ideas, where shown cause to—let’s get them behind us. It’s not easy, it’s difficult, just as change is difficult.
....We can sell this forest, but we just have got to do a selling job on ourselves.

Keep out of the bight,