The old order changeth


by Bill Moore....

.... Everything must change. And the forest around us changes. Well, maybe I should say the manner in which we look at the forest changes. The tree has taken on a new importance in the past 10 years all over the world.
....The soothsayers of our industry are telling us the world consumption of wood fibre will double in 20 years. The talk of 10 and 12 year rotations are as common today as the startling fact of 25 year rotation of southern pine was just a few years back.
....There is a new sophistication to the entire industry that has changed a good many old prejudices and feelings about our forests and her people. It’s funny what demand can do. And that has been the byword. There was a time a very few years ago when we were told that there was a glut of pulp mills. Now they’re announcing them in many places – and I’ll be damned if they haven’t built one in Japan and towed it to the Amazon River in Brazil.
....Brazil is undoubtedly the new “in place” for forestry these days. One has to wonder with so vast an undertaking as is going on down there if the land can stand such disturbance. Its eco-system is so tender.
....In the southern forests of the United States the new forest genetic talk is of the 10 year rotation of eucalyptus. This area will produce nearly 50 per cent of the U.S.A.’s wood fibre in 20 years.
The advance of aerial logging is really quite startling. Where we dabbled in experiments with balloons 10 years ago – right here on coastal B.C., 100,000 cunits of wood were logged by large helicopters in 1978. And it is estimated that figure will triple in 1979. The figures for the American west coast will be even higher. The future can only be up for this mode of logging.

....The advance and sophistication of logging machinery in this past 10 years has allowed the industry to keep pace with the demand for wood products. The whole tree gobblers and har-vesters, the new road building tech-niques with backhoes and the dryland sorting of logs on this west coast have all contributed to the efficiency and betterment of costs. This is not to say that our costs have held the line. This industry has been a victim of world wide inflation and there is no real sign of the spiral being halted.

Oil costs
have hurt

....Our industry has certainly felt the effects of the Arab oil escalation these past six years. In logging, everything we do depends on oil products. We would be hard pressed to turn a wheel if all the Middle East erupted as Iran did this winter. Certainly now we can not hold back on research monies for other means than oil. The very waste on our forest floor after logging contains untold energy if utilized. To say it’s econom-ically unsound to research and develop that waste is to possibly deny our future. Is anyone that sure about the stability of Middle East oil?
....The old order has changed in people and policy, too, these past 10 years. With the demand for wood products high, the large integrated companies have had to turn to contractors for added production. Government policies have assisted this turn to contracting and will no doubt play a larger role in years to come.
....I find it very interesting, all the


comment of late, about various take-overs of forest industry firms by other firms. And there was a time when such take-overs were simply a matter of course and nobody’s business but the parties concerned.
....But what is different now are the vocal objections that people have to “too large” a take-over. So big is fair game – but there seems to be a limit now at which the public or govern-ments will react where they never reacted before.
....The old order has changed a great deal for the better in forest industry labor-management negotiations and relations. This will be a big year for the two parties, coming off a two year contract in the B.C. woods. I seem to remember a few years ago at this time of year – if negotiations were imminent – that the threats and counter-threats were flying everywhere. Why, even our senior media people are having difficulty getting headlines out of our upcoming negotiations this year. A pleasant change that must continue.
....I notice quite a change in the number of forest related periodicals available now. Particularly from the United States. They now cover in –depth every aspect of logging, milling, manufacturing, etc. And I note a far greater emphasis being placed on the logger, his work and his machines. It’s really as if there was a new awareness of the logging factor.
....And so the old order does change – yet it seems there are certain times when it is more noticeable. The forest around us and her people have come a long way, baby. Let’s not stop – we’re a “swellegant” industry full of nice folks.

Keep out of the bight,
Bill Moore

page 44  
British Columbia Lumberman, February, 1979