‘90s forestry concerns relevant today

Columnist Diana French talks about some exciting family news and an article from the past.

Important news first. Great grandchild #5, Lucas John, arrived July 26 to Tennille (GD#3) and Cody Penner of Fort St John.

First grandchild for S#1 and his wife Heather. All are doing well.

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The wonders of the Internet.

Digging through some old files recently I came across an article by Allan Fotheringham written back in the 1990s during the CORE proceedings.  In it, Fotheringham reviewed a 1990 New Yorker article The Ancient Forest by Catherine Caufield, who told the  story of the world’s forests and how human folly has managed to destroy most of them.

Curious about the entire piece, I Googled, found the article and learned I could copy it (30 pages) from the New Yorker archives for free if I was a subscriber. I am, so I did. It isn’t a pretty story. It’s  absolutely eerie reading about the waste, the lack of inventory, raw log exports, the impact of technology on jobs, and the inability to log without damaging the ecosystems. It sounded like today’s concerns. Ms. Caulfield said neither the province nor the industry claimed that the level of harvesting was sustainable, but “worries over this so-called falldown problem are being pushed into the future.”

Well, the future is here. Now what? The Empire of the Beetle, written by Andrew Nikiforuk two decades later, isn’t a pretty story either. He too tells how human arrogance has damaged the forests, but now we have the added issues of foraging insects and climate change.

It took the politicians on BC’s Legislative Assembly Management Committee five years and a particularly damning report from Auditor General John Doyle before they decided to clean up their act in terms of accounting for gazillions of taxpayers’ dollars. Let’s hope it doesn’t take the government five years to act on Mr. Doyle’s recommendations for forest stewardship.

Diana French is a freelance columnist for the Tribune. She is a former Tribune editor, retired teacher, historian, and book author.