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General News · 9th June 2012
Island Timberlands Double Talk

Do you remember 1984? No, not the year that Madonna sang Like a Virgin and the Detroit Tigers won the World Series, the futuristic novel by George Orwell which actually was published in 1949. Did you ever read that story?

The hero, Winston Smith, who works for the Ministry of Truth (which generally tells only lies), becomes disillusioned with his job and his life. He can no longer accept the mindless platitudes he must repeat – “war is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength”. So, he rebels by falling in love - which is considered immoral.

Orwell coined the words “doublethink” and “newspeak” in the book. Both help illuminate his fairly accurate prediction that the future would be full of deceptive language and contrived truths. Welcome to the future.

Lately, Island Timberlands has been using Tideline to try to sway the masses, posting a series called Island Timberland Talks. It reads like they are in meaningful dialogue with this community. Still, I wonder if the tourism industry here really feels “heard” by IT? Word on the street is our tourist operators are meeting with ministers in government to try and get clearcutting in the Discovery Islands stopped – and not just for a few months.

IT likes to talk about all the standards they maintain. There is really nothing to worry about because, as their staff will tell you, they are “far beyond” the standards of the Private Managed Forest Lands Council. Of course, the Private Managed Forest Lands Council (PMFLC) doesn’t enforce their standards, so it isn’t hard to be far beyond them.

People from Cortes called the PMFLC and guess who called them back?… good old Island Timberlands. Surprise! Seems according to the PMFLC the forestry companies can enforce those standards themselves. They even give your phone number to IT, if you make a complaint. No need for oversight here, when a breach of privacy may just intimidate the complainant.

Industry standards are all the rage now - independent third party certification don’t you know. So, Island Timberlands is proud to be certified by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI). Sounds good doesn’t it - sustainable forestry is right there in the title. How Orwellian though!

If you follow the US news, you may know that an increasingly long list of big companies are publicly dumping SFI. From AT&T, Office Depot and Allstate Insurance to Pitney Bowes, Energizer Batteries and US Airways, the word is out – and the word is greenwashing. Check out the attachment – it shows how SFI is operated by the who’s who of big forestry.

Indeed, a Washington law firm even has filed complaints with the IRS and the Federal Trade Commission stating that “SFI misleads the public through deceptive marketing and operates as a nonprofit public charity even though it primarily serves private for-profit interests”. Ooops – can you say “hand caught in the cookie jar”. There’s more. For the record, two “accredited auditors” from SFI actually assessed an area larger than the entire state of Pennsylvania in just five days… they found no violations of standards or opportunities for improvement – it’s not all that surprising though, they must have been in a plane at 30,000 feet to cover so much ground so fast.

Industrial foresters have certified themselves as safe! After all, they are the experts. They are now in charge of the “fines” – as in when they are finished destroying your salmon stream, they say “that was fine, fine”, then they move on. Nothing to worry about – right?

Maybe not… maybe you can’t believe everything you read and hear. Even in this video , where you can hear the Island Timberland’s head-honcho-guy for Cortes say that here on Cortes there were “six masked guys jumping on a (IT) truck”, so the cops “had to actually intervene”, which lead to a “bit of a scuffle”, and that was the reason why the “RCMP ordered three more units”. Here on Cortes, it’s shocking! However, Corporal Shane Worth of the Quadra RCMP says about the same peaceful protest which police witnessed, “There was no property damage… no violence… no police intervention… no scuffle with officers… no order was made to send extra units”.

Come on now, Island Timberlands! You guys owe an apology to the peaceful people of this island. That wasn’t good community relations by a long shot, that’s just stirring up trouble… and then you wonder why no one invites you over for dinner.

Why don’t you just tell us the truth? Check this out. When the “new girl” starts being honest and reveals that they usually spray herbicides on sword fern and sometimes “aerially” (as in by plane or helicopter), head-honcho-guy frantically tries to obscure the camera. So much to hide! Too little too late though. Boy, did the oyster farmers downstream raise a stink after that.

I’m so inspired by Island Timberlands double talk that I have written some “newspeak” myself. I hope you like it.

Clear cuts are sustainable
Herbicides are safe
Raw-log exports create jobs

I know they don’t clear cut, they “patch” cut. There is no old growth on Cortes, and if there was they wouldn’t cut it. It’s just an oversight that entire wetlands are missing from their maps, and we have no need to worry that their “standards” for riparian setbacks are about one tenth of what more reputable organizations call for.

Enough fantasy and humour for now though. For the first time in four years, Island Timberlands will hold a “community information event” in a real community hall – Gorge Hall, Tuesday June 19th, 3-6 pm. The last time they were that brave, some 250 people showed up and made a statement. What became WildStands was spawned two weeks later.

Years later, people at IT were still talking about “how emotional” those Cortesians were that day. Let’s show them our mettle again this time. Mark your calendar, bring your passion and your creativity, let’s send another clear message.

No to deceptive double talk! No to meaningless standards! No to cutting old growth, no to trashing wetlands and salmon streams, no to pesticides and herbicides. No to industrial forestry on Cortes! Hands off the less than 1% of the Coastal Douglas Fir old growth that remains.