The Politics of Forestry- was- Re: State Forestry

Andrew Heggie sylva at
Mon Jan 5 15:13:51 EST 1998

larryc at (Larry Caldwell) wrote:

>And poor Joe ends up sucking hind teat as the discussion moves away from
>the service forester/consulting forester debate.  At least I'll try to
>stick with politics.  Sorry Joe.  
This goes over my head, I obviously mis-apprehended the gist of the
discussion. I was putting forward my view of why woodlands in my
country were lacking management.

>It seems that half the world has spent the last 50 years fighting WWII.

I hope I did not suggest any such thing, even in our benign growing
conditions in the UK a softwood rotation length is some 75 years,
though there have been attempts to cut this, some successfull 45 year
rotations are propounded. Hardwoods are a bit longer, oak 120+.

State forestry was started in 1919 and succesfully doubled the
afforested area from some 5% forest cover by 1974. The woodland cover
in post industrial times, 5%, is presumably that which the free market
was willing to support, the new area was subsidized in order to ensure
its creation. I happen to believe 5% woodland cover is environmentally
>Raising timber for strategic purposes is one of those things that is just
>foolish if you consider it a bit.  First, the lifetime of a forest is many
>times the lifetime of international alliances, and second, a few incindiary
>missles will take care of any strategic forests in short order.  During
>WWII the Japanese floated incindiary balloons over the west coast of North
>America.  They just didn't know enough about the climate to realize they
>were doing it during the rainy season, or they would have burned the entire
>west coast of North America to the ground.
You seem to say two contradictory points here, making things burn here
in the summer can be a problem. Either way the foresters who got the
ball rolling because of political pressure would have been unaware of
these delivery systems becoming available.This is besides the point,
for whatever reason the woodland resource is now valued for reason
other than a strategic resource ( conservation, amenity and timber
production, truffles too if I could find any).

In any event timber production from the plantings of earlier policies
will not peak until 2020, the home market does not produce timber as
competitively as importsand so we have a dilemma.

>The real reason for managing forestry is the same as the reason for managing
>agriculture.  Land and rain and sunshine will produce renewable wealth for
>the human race with some industry on the part of the inhabitants.  While
>a food crop yields every year, forests yield once in a human lifetime.
>The result is that forestry is still dominated by the opportunistic harvest
>techniques practiced by neolithic hunter-gatherers over 6000 years ago.  
Which appears to be part of human nature!

>You see the reason governments are not reliable foresters.  Cheap imports
>mean low consumer prices and a better chance of getting elected next time.
>The cheap prices will continue until the Canadians and the Russians mine 
>out the last of their legacy timber.  Once that's gone, it will be a long
>time coming back.  Boreal pine doesn't grow that fast.  Some of those
>30 cm logs they are cutting are a hundred years old.
I fully concur, whilst all harvesting has some detrimental effect on
the balance the benefits to our existance are judged to make cropping
acceptable, some systems may simply not be sustainably cropped.

>I've never heard of a market where timber prices were that depressed.
>Around here you can buy an economy 2x4x8 ( five and a third bf ) for
>$1.50.  That works out to $280/mbf.  Stumpage prices are running about
>$600 to $650/mbf.  

I cannot comment about your prices as I do not understand your
convention, what I can say is that woodlands I was willing to work and
pay for in 1974 I can no longer work at cost.

>It's interesting how a discussion among foresters devolves to a discussion 
>of stumpage prices.  I know a few small landowners who are raising stumps,
>but not many.  Almost all small woodland owners view timber production
>as a secondary consideration.  From their standpoint, they're doing a better
>job of land management than the foresters think they are.  
Again I accept this point, in the face of poor markets there are
several management practices that can maintain the ecological benefits
of woodland without cropping.

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