The Forest Around Us



Bill Moore

Teachers of the trees

....If you read the B.C. Lumberman chances are you are somehow involved in the forest industry of Canada. It’s a vast industry that finds many varied kinds of people depending on a variety of trades that have their origin with the tree. Cabinet makers in Montreal, loggers in northern Alberta, pulp workers in Prince George, sawmillers in northern Ontario, longshoremen in Halifax. A vast multitude of jobs are created from our trees—and a multitude of cities, towns and villages depend on their very existence from trees that are manufactured into payroll dollars.

....Maybe because I have traveled a fair bit and met so many people in this forest industry and also made my own living from it, I get a bit uptight when I find misunderstanding or ignorance of this huge industry.

....In our big cities you generally find a “ho-humness” about the forest indus-try. It too often gets pictured or written of when the year end figures of some large company are announced, or when there is a strike or a great forest fire. The urban newspaper would far rather relate the gore and bullets of a recent bank holdup that may yield the bad guys $10,000 than to write of some young logger’s on the job death that may cost his company over $100,000 in compensation to his family. A forestry convention will be well written up for its nonsense but try to get the results of a recent loggers’ sports day on the sports page and see how far you get.

....Or one more—the hue and cry of the city dweller over the inconvenience of smoke from slash fires in the fall. But

no one cares that perfectly good fibre is burning to cause that smoke.
....Then there is the confusion in the minds of the public caused by inane and double talking public relations people from some of the large forest companies. From time to time some awful bunk comes out from these companies to justify some action they have taken. We could do with less of it if the public is to understand our industry.
....One particular aspect of informing people about our industry in its true light has always interested me and some colleagues. And that is the showing of our industry to teachers of children and about-to-be teachers. Here is a category of our public that instills thoughts and memories in the minds of our young people. The subject is worth dwelling on for a few minutes for our teachers can or cannot play an important role in our industry.
Let’s say a student teacher graduates from one of our large universities. Chances are they have been taught a very, very rudimentary course about the forest industry. Chances are they have not really met many people from the industry—or at best in high school had a quick tour through a local sawmill or pulp mill. And I’ll lay you one to ten they have not listened to a lecture by a forest management or labor leader. They don’t know why we slash burn and get criticized for it. Nor has anyone bothered to tell them of the toll of life taken in our logging industry alone.
....These same soon-to-be teachers and teachers generally know about the pollution problems of our industry for that has been quite widely—and deservedly—written of in these late years. But they do not know much of
the small towns in our forested areas where this pollution often occurs.
....Now all of this may not seem to matter to you as a part of this industry. But it should. Because if our teachers are to teach our children who will quite possibly grow up to live in the province of their parents—then it would make common sense that besides having an education in school subjects they should be taught knowingly of the area they live in. But not knowing of rural forest com-munities or their problems and good points, only leaves the teacher to teach what the urban media may say of a forest industry. And we have gone into that earlier in this column.
....If our teachers are to be know-ledgeable of our forest industry they don’t need the media nor do they need one sided public relations hand-outs to tell them. They need the rounded out story of the industry, its good and its bad presented by people from within the industry-management, labor and government. They need to know how teachers will live in a small forest oriented town, what type of problems they will be up against. They need to listen to both leaders of labor and management tell their stories. They need to know what products are made from local trees and where those products are sold. They need to be given information about slash fires, communications, local school boards, how logging camps operate, reforestation and a host of other information if they are to understand and teach our young in a balanced manner.
....I was delighted to hear from a forester friend of mine that he had been offered the chance to write up a forestry course for a local school
British Columbia Lumberman, May, 1975

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board. Who better could be qualified to do such a job than a man who lives in a local area—is cognizant of local problems of forestry living, and can put it down to teachers who can teach the young of their local forests. It seemed to me a true melding of education and living. We could use a lot more of this type of tree promotion than the usual P.R. or sensation type stories of the media. True, there are good writers of our industry on many papers—but I say not near enough who understand the industry well enough. That is not necessarily the media writers’ fault—they have been fooled too often by inept information from the forest industry.
....There can be a great satisfaction to listen to a group of teachers and teachers-to-be who have just comp-leted a comprehensive tour of a forest industry area. I have sat in on many such critiques and, if the tour has been done thoroughly, that is union, management, government and the people of the industry spoken to—the results of what our tour guests learn is always gratifying. They learn why the effluent is there and they listen to a plant manager tell them just what is being done about it. They sit with a group of union people — without management being present—and learn of the union’s feelings toward the industry. They stand by a fish stream and talk with a forest ranger and a fisheries officer and learn at first hand the problem of stream and logging. They see the manner in which management must resolve problems at first hand and they learn that all the answers aren’t easy.
....I have been associated for the past 10 years with a group of very dedicated forestry people from all walks of the industry. Labor leaders, forestry government people of all levels of government, management leaders, forestry educators and people from allied industries who deal with the forest industry. Our program is called the Festival of Forestry.
....One of our major programs has been to gather groups of 20 or thirty graduating foresters, teachers in training or young faculty staff from departments of forestry and education. We send these interested people out on intensive three day to 10 day tours of Canada’s forest industry and let them see first hand what our industry and its people are all about. They rap with local union leaders about their problems. They talk to fish and wildlife officials about multiple use of forests. They talk to plant superintendents about sawmill and pulpmill problems, and the story of slash fires and refor-

estation is explained, in the field by qualified foresters. They visit forest research centers and gain knowledge of the new forests that will one day provide the country with a continuing forest economy.

....We have sent such tours to the forests of Quebec and Northern Ontario and to the Scandinavian for-ests. They have visited the small towns of B.C. that depend on the tree for their existence. We are now planning such tours to the unique Queen Charlotte Islands and to the Lakehead country of western Ontario.


....Education has changed from the days of the three “R’s” for our world is a far more complicated place to grow up in today. And the forest around us will always need intelligent people to har-vest it and a public that can understand why it needs to be harvested. Tea-chers can play a great part in educating the young about our forests—for those same young people will one day be the forestry public or even possibly the forest worker.

Keep out of the bight,

British Columbia Lumberman, May, 1975