________________ CM . . . . Volume I Number XII . . . . September 1, 1995

Clayoquot and Dissent

Essays by Tzeporah Berman, et al.
Vancouver: Ronsdale Press, 1994. 219pp, paper.
ISBN 0-921-870-29-9.

Subject Headings:
Civil disobedience-British Columbia.
Clayoquot Sound Region (B.C.)-Environmental conditions.
Environmental policy-British Columbia-Clayoquot Sound Region.

Grades 10 and up / Ages 15 and up.
Review by Adele Case


Canadian scientists are now addressing the problems of clearcutting head on. Environment Canada's 1995 report on "Biodiversity in British Columbia" states unequivocally that clearcutting causes a "loss in biodiversity" and warns that this may have "economic and social, as well as ecological repercussions." The Federal government scientists go on to say that "Modern methods of partial cutting can be selected and designed to maintain the structural attributes of old-growth forest, wildlife habitat, or other non-timber values. However . . . about 90% of the harvested forests . . . are clear-cut."
The Clayoquot Sound Science Panel has already recommended a shift to "ecosystem management," the buzzword of the recent American developments, as well as an avoidance of the practice of clearcutting.

Clayoquot and Dissent is a collection of essays and background information about past, present, and possible future logging practices followed in Clayoquot Sound and many other West-Coast logging sites. The book chronicles issues that had been simmering for years before boiling over in the protests of 1992 -- issues that concerned not only environmentalists, citizens, and educators, but also a number of tribal communities on the ocean side of Vancouver Island.


Many West-Coast "sounds" (inlet-like arms of the sea) are inaccessible by road, and contain a complex patchwork of remote islands, which in the past were carelessly logged using clear-cut methods. With a clear-cut, the marketable logs are removed en masse, and brush, slash, or unmarketable small trees are left on the steep hillsides to dry, allowing the winter and spring rains to wash away the thin topsoil. Little thought was given to the effect of clear-cutting on spawning streams for fish, or to the preservation of rare trees, plants, birds, or small animals.

Clayoquot and Dissent carefully lists the attempts of activists and others to change these practices between 1979 and 1994 -- attempts made in the face of essentially unjust imprisonment, fines, and punishment directed against those who dared protest the methods used by powerful forest companies. Throughout this soft-cover book, beautiful illustrations by Marguerite Gibbons also show the emotional impact the virtual "rape" of the hillsides has had on many who value the beauty of nature.

Throughout that time, public alarm over environmental problems like disappearance of teak from Thailand and the ruination of the rain forest in Brazil and Central America drew more attention to the need to preserve forested areas in Canada as well. Here in B.C. that attention grew only gradually (glacially slowly, some would argue), but it inevitably came to a head in a confrontation at the Kennedy River bridge. The sight of hundreds of demonstrators being hauled away created national and international interest in B.C.'s silviculture, logging and fishing regulations, community politics, and diminishing natural resources.

This is a small book considering the range and importance of the issues it treats, but it will be an invaluable reference for those who wish to study the effects of valuing profit over protection. Some of the essays are legalistic, dense with references and daunting to read, but nonetheless they manage to challenge the reader to weigh the "company view" and the rule of law that has protected it against the fears of environmentalists that a fragile ecosystem may be damaged beyond repair.

Clayoquot and Dissent closes with black and white pictures of eroded riverbanks, creeks logged to the water's edge, and stream banks degraded by heavy equipment. The pictures are sobering, especially in light of the books' repeated warning that the area within the Clayoquot Sound forest boundaries is still being logged "with practices that have been banned in much of the world."

Any reader or class interested in the issues of the preservation of British Columbia's forest ecology, or the rights of loggers, should check and consider the questions raised in this book.

Highly recommended, to interested readers.

Adele Case is a high-school teacher who lives in West Vancouver.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © 1998 the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364