............THE FOREST






The Bloom of Europe – May ‘83

I t’s been a mild winter and early spring in Finland, The hundreds of small farms surrounding Helsinki have just been plowed and sown and in what seems like an overnight explosion, the ground has a faint green fuzz to it. Those long sunlit days do make a difference.
....The Finlanders do live a long dark-ened winter and it gives them lots of cause to welcome May 1st, their Labor Day. I had arrived in the country just a few days before this joyous day and my friends wanted to be sure that I saw the great gatherings of people in downtown Helsinki. It was impressive.
....I’m sure the half million inhabitants of this delightfully clean city turned out for one of several gatherings. We witnes-sed the largest one about 10 a.m. on May 1st. In this gathering the citizens – young and old – poured into a large park and gathered atop a granite area,


nearly all wearing a sea captain’s style of white hat. This is the mark of a “student,” be he a new one or an old one. You can tell the old ones by the White-gone-yellow tint of the hat – a sort of mark of distinction for the Finlanders. Here in this park – in a literal sea of white hats – the people sang their traditional songs of Finland and showed their national spirit. It was a very moving experience.
....We moved on to the second gathering in the very heart of the city and here again were the white hats, and a few tinted ones also, ready to march to several bands through the downtown streets of the city. This group carried large red flags – undoubtedly of political feelings – and they too sang their traditional songs.
....We walked further through the crowds to a third gathering where a large male chorus was singing their

songs in Swedish. Both languages Finnish and Swedish, are official languages of the nation with the latter being spoken by the minority.
....It was a most interesting day and certainly showed the Finlanders’ love of country and their delight in showing off their patriotism.
....One should never mistake the May 1st celebration in Finland with its huge neighbor to the east – where parades are done in militaristic style to show off their might to the world. Finland shows its pride of nationalism on that day – and hello to bloomin’ spring!
....It is difficult for me to get down to talking straight forestry matters when I write of visits to the Scandinavian countries. Coming from the west coast of B.C. with its big wood is trauma enough, but to find the excellent blend of forestry and agriculture that one finds so often over there is such a different life and work-style than ours.

....One thing is certain: The Scans know there has been a recession. They still smart from it and only by de-valuation of their money have they kept their big forestry plants working. By doing so they have been able to com-pete with the big forestry firms of North America for pulp and paper and wood commodities. But, they say that the price will have to increase by $50 American to put them in a break even position with their present costs of manufacturing.
....Sweden, by a heavy devaluation, is at present undercutting some North American forest products. Whereas Finland is just managing to meet the price because it did not devalue as much as Sweden. Like everyone else in the forestry world the Scans are looking for cost-cutting ways. As the old saying goes – the mule can only carry so much hay.
....A unique forestry problem in Finland now is the resistance of the tree growing owners to sell their trees to the pulp and paper mills. The forests of Finland are about 70 percent owned by the small independent tree farmers, who feel that the recession prices offered by the mills are not high enough

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There is talk of the government step-ping in and legislating such sales or, it is said, the mills will have to close for lack of wood.
....Right now wood is being brought from anywhere they can find it for sale to keep the mills working. It is even being brought from North America. They realize they must not lose their customers at any cost.
....We saw the ’83 spring bloom of Europe from other places too – and how impressive. How perfect the mixture of farm and tree windbreaks and tree farms in Belgium. This little country that could darn near fit in your pocket does not waste a pinch of earth. As we flew into Brussels on a long approach by our Finnair DC9 it was spectacular to see the neat-as-a-pin rows of planted pines growing on the small tree farms. Here and there a few acres were being cut – or planted – or in partial growth. Blended in amongst these were poplars. But everywhere there was tidiness and order.
....The bloom of Europe was truly evident in southern France. Traveling by fast train from Marseilles to Paris in May when the vivid yellow fields of rapeseed are waving in the breeze over thousands and thousands of hectares of gently rolling hills – is a sight any earth lover will remember. It must be the kind of sight that great painters see when they paint their masterpieces.
....Between Marseilles and Lyon we passed a huge pulp mill in the midst of this great farm country. The pyramids of pine cordwood were staggering, particularly when one sees that it all comes by flat car from the Pyrennes or Bordeaux. One could nearly feel sorry for the so small sizes of trees they were
Cut from – “Pardonnez-moi, Monsieur Petit Pine!”
....And, yes, we visited the forested areas of Mediterranean France from Monaco to Nice and Cannes. And I can report to you, dear reader, that the giant palm trees on the ocean boulevard of Cannes really riveted my attention. So much so was I engrossed in the mystic big trees that I nearly forgot to cast my eyes seaward to observe the wonders of the “sands of Cannes.” Ah, Wilderness!
....It would be impossible not to report on the beauty of the giant chestnut trees in full bloom along the exciting Champs Elysses in Paris. Nowhere could trees be put to greater pleasure for the public than along this famous grand avenue. No wonder the French take such pride in so magnificent a display of city forest.
There is an optimism in these places I have mentioned that the great recession is over and that a gradual climb back to some form of normalcy is upon us. And yet in this climb back there are setbacks.


....We saw the street riots of Paris and later in the same day sat with some Scandinavian friends and had a soothing aperitif while we discussed forestry matters.
....We listened to Finlanders talk of the possible legal actions that nation might take to force the tree owners to sell their trees to the mills at a legislated price. It was quite a heavy topic. Can you imagine such a thing happening in Prince George or Thunder Bay? Then after that we discussed – at the charming bar of the Marski Hotel – the merits of Finnish paper being sold in Morocco. This with the Finnish representative from Rabat in Morocco.
....Yes, life in the Finland woods goes on as usual – just as it does anywhere else in this rather ridiculous world of our today. In spite of the terrifying thoughts of all the missiles being sown in the silos, instead of grain being placed there. We in Canada are so far removed from the awesome realities that people see about them in Europe. They remember a past that they never


want to see again. They love their soil and their cities and farms and forests. And they love their spring and its bursting bloom!
....And so, everywhere the trees add another ring. Be it in the 700 year old Sitka spruce of the Queen Charlotte Islands, or the chestnuts of Paris or the neat-as-a-pin rows of trees in Belgium or the pines of Pori in Finland. These are the forest around us and they give us many things – shelter, education, occu-pations and most of all – beauty for the eyes of people everywhere.
....And it’s nice to think that when some day we settle all the issues of the world those trees will still be with us. If we care for them now.

Merci beaucoup
Observez-vous la bight!

Bill Moore