Low-Grade Markets, Oil Subsidies

Joseph Zorzin redoak at forestmeister.com
Sun Jan 30 05:11:31 EST 2000

Karl Davies wrote:

> I missed the last Massachusetts Association of Professional Foresters
> (MAPF) meeting, but I hear there was a lot of discussion about markets
> for low-grade timber, wood and pulp. Apparently the MAPF had invited all
> the state's "utilization specialists" to come and explain what they've
> done for us lately in improving these markets.

And seeing that it costs a fortune to support these guys on their government
paychecks, one would hope that they have at least improved those markets to
the extent of paying their way.

>  Of course the lack of
> markets for low-grade material is the perennial excuse from loggers and
> sawmill owners, and some foresters, for their inability to practice good
> silviculture.

Right, most loggers around here aren't in the silviculture business- they're
in the logging business- i.e., they're in the "logging the best trees"
business- fully approved by our glorious but useless state government-
fooling landowners into thinking that the harvest will be well done.

> This rationale has always seemed more like an excuse than a reason to me
> because most foresters I know manage to get rid of the low-grade
> material somehow.

And if we can't sell the stuff we kill it by chain saw girdling, or the
brave among us use herbicides.

>  Anyway, I hear the old rationale still has lots of
> life in some quarters, particularly those that earn their livings off
> it. <G>

And among those who haven't read a zillion emails against the practice by
us. <G>

>  Adherents of "the rationale" have criticized me and other
> foresters saying things like "Oh yeah?  If you think you can market the
> stuff, prove it!"  Of course that's just what we do every day that we're
> out in the woods marking.

That usually ends the debate. <G>

> But now I'm thinking a better strategy with these guys would be to argue
> that if they really want to improve markets for low-grade timber, wood
> and pulp, then they should get out and work for the elimination of oil
> subsidies--the real cause for less than optimal markets.

One of the causes. Another is that high grading breeds more high grading.
Once a place is high graded- it henceforth grows low grade trees- less
marketable. The cure for high grading is silviculture- which leads to the
growth of high value trees - which have undeniable market- especially now
when markets for good timber in the Northeast USA have NEVER been better.
But, we can't expect those "utilization experts" to be smart enough to
realize that the cure for poor markets for poor trees is to grow good trees.
That goes against the party line- that rapacious loggers and mills should
NOT be criticized- blame those intangible and inhuman "markets". And of
course we don't see those utilization experts fighting to implement REAL
forester licensing- whereby only a licensed forester could prepare state
mandated "cutting plans".

I say that those utilization experts have contributed NOTHING. They should
lose their jobs.


Joe  Zorzin
Massachusetts Licensed Forester #261

Member of Forest Steward's Guild

Duh Woodchuck Party line

Massachusetts Forestry Politics

"Landowner rights" is just another way to say "logger's right to high grade"

More information about the Ag-forst mailing list