Nature Noted

Notes on a changing Nature

Location: Bellville, Texas, United States

I never would have predicted this one

Monday, February 21, 2005

Sustaining Sustainable Forestry

One of the common themes of most of the recent deals I've seen between states or land trusts and timber companies has been an insistence on "sustainable forestry" as a condition for paying for conservation easement fees. Usually the timber company agrees to certain practices that enables the company to make money, while minimizing soil erosion and clear cutting. One of the largest such experiments in the country is feeling some growing pains. Editorials in The Sacramento Bee and the San Francisco Chronicle paint a differing picture on the extent of the growing pains. But what is clear is this.... Pacific Lumber is trying to get out from a big debt, and it's having a problem doing that under the sustainable forestry terms that it agreed to, in exchange for $481 million in tax dollars just six years ago. Pacific Lumber leaders are warning that unless they get some relief from the rules they agreed to, the company might declare bankruptcy, and then all bets are off. But Pacific Lumber has a less than stellar reputation in California, and many wonder if it's just another bluff. Caught in between are the people who depend upon Pacific Lumber for their livelihoods. As the Los Angeles Times points out...
"The demise of Pacific Lumber — with its own town and the world's largest privately owned groves of ancient redwoods — would strike Humboldt County like a 300-foot redwood toppling to the forest floor. Pacific Lumber remains the biggest taxpayer and private employer, with friends and former employees in key places in county government and the state Capitol. The company supports charities and community affairs — and offers college scholarships to employees' children."
Are the rules at fault? Is bad management by the company to blame? Both? How sustainable is sustainable forestry? Pacific Lumber seems to be a big test case.


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