Canada's Forests

Canada's Forests: A History

Ken Drushka
Copyright Date: 2003
Pages: 120
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  • Book Info
    Canada's Forests
    Book Description:

    Ken Drushka analyses the changes in human attitudes towards the forests, detailing the rise of the late nineteenth-century conservation movement and its subsequent decline after World War I, the interplay between industry and government in the development of policy, the adoption of sustained yield policies after World War II, and the recent adoption of sustainable forest management in response to environmental concerns. Drushka argues that, despite the centuries of use, the Canadian forest retains a good deal of its vitality and integrity. Written in accessible language and aimed at a general readership, Canada's Forests will be a must-read for anyone interested in the debate about the current and future uses of this precious natural resource.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-7169-3
    Subjects: Technology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. Figures
    (pp. vi-vi)
    (pp. vii-2)
    (pp. 3-4)

    Canada’s forests are the country’s dominant geographical feature. They carpet the landscape in a vast, largely unbroken swath, covering three-quarters of the country below the northern tree line.

    These forests define the country. They shape its character and its image. They are a determining factor for most life forms – including humans – that inhabit the northern portion of the North American continent.

    Since long before the first European settlers arrived, the forests have dominated the consciousness of the people who inhabit this land. Forests shape the economic, social, and cultural life of Canadians, and their condition and use is...

    (pp. 5-16)

    Canada’s forests are very young. In geological time, they have existed for only a brief moment, since the last glaciation ended about ten thousand years ago. At several periods during the last two to three million years, most of Canada was covered with ice. Each “Ice Age” lasted for about one hundred thousand years. Between these epochs the land was inhabited by various forms of plant and animal life, including forests of one sort or another.

    The interglacial forests were likely much different from those that exist today. In the high Arctic, for instance, traces of ancient forests can be...

    (pp. 17-32)

    The nature of the forest that existed before the arrival of European explorers is a matter of debate. It is increasingly evident that Canada’s aboriginal people modified the forests in which they lived, in some cases extensively. The long-held idea of a pristine forest, a blanket of green stretching from sea to sea – with a brief detour around the western plains – and unsullied by human intervention is not supported by historic or scientific evidence.

    What is clear is that the forests that reclaimed the sterile, glaciated landscape as the ice receded evolved in tandem with the occupation of...

  8. CHAPTER 3 Industrialization of the Forests
    (pp. 33-42)

    The industrialization of Canada, largely with the widespread adoption of steam-powered machinery, took place through the latter half of the nineteenth century and the first quarter of the twentieth. It impacted forests directly and indirectly in various ways.

    Mechanization of the forest industry itself greatly speeded up the pace of logging and milling operations, consuming larger volumes of timber and affecting an increased area of forest. This development coincided in central Canada with the logging-out of stands along rivers suitable for the driving of logs. The availability of steam locomotives enabled the extension of logging operations into more remote but...

    (pp. 43-61)

    The North American conservation movement was based on ideas and concepts that began to appear long before the end of the nineteenth century, when forest liquidation in Canada had become widespread.

    Writing from his office in the House of Commons overlooking the Ottawa River, Prime Minister John A. Macdonald noted with alarm in 1871: “The site of the immense masses of timber passing my windows every morning constantly suggests to my mind the absolute necessity there is for looking into the future of this great trade. We are recklessly destroying the timber of Canada and there is scarcely a possibility...

    (pp. 62-84)

    By the late 1970s the shortcomings of Canada’s sustained yield policies were increasingly apparent. A series of crises had developed, the very nature of which were often a matter of intense disagreement.

    In some parts of the country the consequences of past forest practices created problems. The selective high grading of pine from Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick for more than two hundred years had produced forests composed of less-valuable species that were, as they matured, highly susceptible to insect attacks. Massive infestations in Newfoundland, Quebec, and New Brunswick had been fought with little success by the aerial spraying...

    (pp. 85-88)

    The guiding principles of forest use in Canada and the practices derived from them have gone through many changes over the past century and continue to evolve. In 1900 the prevalent attitude was still that of liquidation, with only a minority concerned with forest conservation. By mid-century, conservationist thinking was well entrenched, but the idea of limits, voluntarily accepted before the forest resource was utilized beyond redemption, was reluctantly adhered to. In time the concept of sustained yield was adopted, only to be revealed as wanting in some respects.

    The acceptance of dramatic new ideas by democratic societies such as...

    (pp. 89-92)
    (pp. 93-94)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 95-97)