CBC Digital Archives

Conserving Canada's natural resources

Vancouver Island's Clayoquot Sound. Manitoba's boreal forests. The Central Avalon Peninsula of Newfoundland. These picturesque locales have served as the battlegrounds over the controversy of clearcutting — the logging practice that strips a forest bare by cutting every single tree down. On one side are the environmentalists. On the other, logging companies. In the middle are native people. The fate of Canada's old-growth forests and the forestry industry as a whole rests in the balance in the 'war of the woods.'

Canada once thought its forest resources were limitless. By the 1950's, it realized the trees it cut down had to be replaced by new ones. One way of promoting this new growth while simultaneously ensuring a continuous supply of wood for Canada's enormous appetite for pulp and paper products is the scientific operated tree farm. As this CBC Radio clip shows, tree farms are a model of modern forestry, guaranteeing a perpetual harvest of wood and conserving Canada's natural resources.

Broadcaster Robert Brazil takes listeners on a guided tour of the Canadian Paper Company tree farm operation in Windsor Mills, Que., as trees are harvested, cut down and pulped for paper products. "The main principle is to harvest or cut your forest in such a manner as not to deplete it but to improve it," explains one logger. "Use nature as your guide, and you must work with her, and never over a long period cut more than the annual growth."
• The tree farm featured in this CBC Radio clip practiced a cutting method known as selective cutting and harvesting. This method promotes proper forest management because the only trees that are cut down are old or diseased or are hindering the growth of younger trees. Since the Canadian Paper Company started using selective cutting 20 years prior to this 1958 broadcast, the growth rate of its forests more than doubled.

• By contrast, clearcutting is a method that involves the harvesting and cutting of all the trees and most if not all vegetation from a forested area. This method, while economical, is considered ecologically hazardous by environmentalists because it causes soil erosion, destroys valuable wildlife habitats and has an adverse effect on ecosystems. The wood products industry argues that clearcutting is an efficient form of silvaculture (the science of cultivating trees) that allows growing space for the next generation.
Medium: Radio
Program: Canadian Scene
Broadcast Date: Jan. 12, 1958
Guest(s): Roger Coté, Walter Greenley, Walter Houghton, Ernst Martensen, Neil Potter
Reporter: Robert Brazil
Duration: 27:16
Photo: (Leonard Davis / National Archives of Canada / PA-126873)

Last updated: February 13, 2012

Page consulted on December 6, 2013

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