........Comment by Bill Moore

...The forest around us

You have to know the territory

....It’s an old expression – used by traveling salesmen in the good old days of yore. It simply meant – you have to know your job, your product, and the people you do business with. The “travelers.” As the salesmen were known, knew a lot of things about their territory.
....If he were a logging equipment traveler he could tell you about all the other camps he visited; about new machines they had, or even if the fore-man had run off with the boss’s wife.
I know, it’s a sneaky way of getting to my subject matter, but I wonder if we as individuals in this forest industry really “know the territory” today like the “traveler” knew his?
....This is a big and far flung industry, and yet I run into so many people who are sort of locked into their own little portion of it. The forest industry is a business with many industries inside it, and the view from one part of that industry gets obscured when we try to look in on another part.
....The logger does not necessarily know about pulp mills or the pulp man’s problems. The forester will not necessarily know about the marketing of wood products. The sawmiller some-times has little knowledge of the forest educator problems. And it could be said that the cook in the camp cookhouse hasn’t got time to worry about the faller’s work-a-day.
....Through periodicals, the newspaper and television we all know more than we used to about the world around us. But the world, like our industry itself gets more complicated as we speed into the high technological age. It takes more and more explaining.
....Well, all right, but do we need to know more about the “territory?” Aren’t we busy enough just handling


what we have to do? Why should the pulp maker need to know the logger’s problem or the plywood maker the forest ranger’s problem? We’re getting by – the world needs our fibre and our lumber. Let someone else worry about putting all those things together.
....Sure, that’s fine. We’ll all become specialists and only concentrate on our own thing. You look after yours – I’ll look after mine. But there is a bit of a hitch to this method. We, in the overall industry, are interdependent on each other in ways we don’t always think of.
Take for instance – the pulp market goes soft, and the chips pile up from the sawmills. You can’t sell the pulp even though the market is good. Then you have to stop sawing lumber because there’s nowhere to pile the excess chips. If I were a sawmill worker, I’d want to know why in heck I’ve been laid off because pulp isn’t selling. What’s pulp got to do with me? Or like – you own a small store in one of the many, many logging or mill towns across Canada. A wildcat strike, or a plant shutdown occurs in your town. It lasts a while. What’s going on, that you have to run credit on your customers who are fresh out of paychecks? Would you be interested to know what’s behind it all? Darn right!
....And it just could be you’re a young government scaler and a fire season closes down the logging in your area – or worse yet – a forest fire engulfs part of your area and everything stops to go and fight the fire. There are no logs to scale. Do you think it might affect your work? You betcha!
....We are not the only country in this world producing fibre and lumber products. There are others and there will be more – and they will be our competition. And the chaps in those

lands like their bread and butter each day too. We just don’t own the whole pie any longer, we only own part of it. So we should, in our own self interest, take a more observant look at what the other fellow is doing. Get to know the territory folks!
....But how? Read a book? Take a tour of a sawmill or a pulp mill or rush out in the woods and watch a bunch of loggers? No friends, that’s a bit difficult for a lot of people. The process is not instant, it’s a learning and education process – and also not just for the adult crowd, but for the young. For they will be the industry tomorrow, and it’s in our best interest that they get to know and appreciate the many faces of this forest industry. An industry with all its varied businesses, that is bread and butter now to Canada – and must continue to be bread and butter to generations ahead.
....Now it’s important that we in the industry know our territory – but it is also important that our public know our industry. We have the opportunity because of our proximity – even though many don’t care, or don’t take the time to find the answers.
....But the general public find our industry to be quite a mystery. They know about pulp mill smells, about smoke from slash fires, about strikes and lockouts when their negotiations don’t work. They’ve heard about giant trees in B.C. and forest fires in northern Ontario for the tv news showed it for a couple of minutes one night while they were waiting for Archie Bunker to appear on the tube.
....The public knows a lot about our poorer image side – which is a part of our territory. But they just can’t get to a sawmill or pulpmill or logging outfit –
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British Columbia Lumberman, June, 1978

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and of course because of safety regulations, children under 12 aren’t allowed in mills. So the little fellows grow up in some very formative years thinking we’re all Paul Bunyans or makers of smoke and smells or maybe don’t even know of us at all.
....We are slowly learning the lesson – we must know our territory – and we must tell our public about it. It means our jobs and our future.
....Today, unlike yesterday, there is a bit of news leaking out to the public. A scattering of forest museums are telling the story of our old days. Some forest companies are realizing the importance of showing off their mills to the public.
Loggers Sports have played an impor-tant part in showing the public the skill of a logger. It is now realized by many in our industry that we must show our school teachers “our territory” if they are to tell our young people how and why we operate.
....It’s a big story, this story of a forest industry. And it will take a lot of telling, and it will take some time to tell it all so we all know the territory.
....But it’s worth the telling. It will pay off in a more knowledgeable industry personnel 1 and a more understanding public. And we can use all the friends we can get, now and in the future.
....There is a very exciting plan afoot to
build a Forest Centre in Vancouver that will bring to the public -in dramatic form – the full scope of our industry and its businesses. This will not be a museum of the old industry – but rather a look at the industry now and tomorrow. I’ll be telling you more about it in the months ahead.
....I believe the Forest Centre will be a place where “knowing the territory” will be a byword, and this forest around us will become easier for our people to understand.

.........................Keep out of the bight,
..........................................Bill Moore
British Columbia Lumberman, June, 1978  
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