A public relations approach at educating society about clearcut harvesting in coastal British Columbia

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University of New Brunswick


Clearcut harvesting, while a viable forest practice, has become a "bone of contention" that the public has been forced to chew. The environmentalists* have fed the public biased and unsubstantiated information that suggests all clearcuts will devastate the environment and ruin the habitat of the animals that use it. These groups have sought to eradicate this harvest practice without thought of the implications that would result. It is admitted that there have been problems with these operations, as harvesting regulations have not been strict in the past, but the generalities that these groups make are incorrect. Clearcuts do not destroy the environment; they simply change the forest structure at the moment of harvest. These sites will produce very dynamic habitats that will be used by numerous species of plants and animals; the number and composition of which will change as the clearcut grows and matures. In fact, clearcutting can be used as a means of diversifying the forest structure so as to supply different types of habitats for different species. * NOTE The term "environmentalist" is used frequently throughout this report. It is used to reference hard core extremists groups such as Greenpeace and others and is used in this manner so as to group these parties together. It is used regrettably as it is believed that every person in today's society is an environmentalist to some degree. Clearcutting is not only able to produce habitats for animals, but it is very beneficial to humans as well; it provides a much safer working environment and reduces harvest costs. Clearcutting is the main method of harvest in coastal British Columbia since the type of equipment used needs a path clear of trees; the likes of which cannot be created by a selection harvest. It is believed that the main reason for the public's concern of clearcutting is centred around their ignorance. That is not to be rude, but the public is very much ignorant of the dynamics of the forest and the implications of any type of harvest system; be it clearcut, stripcut, or selection cut. It is not the public's fault since the forest industry has not made a real effort at creating education programs. The public is thus forced to rely solely on tpe information supplied by the environmentalists groups. The information supplied, coupled with the pure ugliness of a clearcut, creates the emotion of fear that translates into a hatred of clearcuts. It is believed that proper education of the dynamics of the forest, and the role clearcutting plays in this dynamic structure, will reduce the fear that has dominated the public's emotion for too long.