Clearcutting the Pacific Rain Forest

Clearcutting the Pacific Rain Forest

Production, Science, and Regulation

Book - 1998
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This book integrates class, environmental, and political analysis touncover the history of clearcutting in the Douglas fir forests of B.C.,Washington, and Oregon between 1880 and 1965.

Part I focuses on the mode of production, analyzing thetechnological and managerial structures of worker and resourceexploitation from the perspective of current trends in labour processresearch. Rajala argues that operators sought to neutralize thevariable forest environment by emulating the factory model of workorganization. The introduction of steam-powered overhead loggingmethods provided industry with a rudimentary factory regime by 1930,accompanied by productivity gains and diminished workplace autonomy forloggers. After a Depression-inspired turn to selective logging withcaterpillar tractors timber capital continued its refinement ofclearcutting technologies in the post-war period, achieving completemechanization of yarding with the automatic grapple. Driviing thisprocess of innovation was a concept of industrial efficiency thatresponded to changing environmental conditions, product and labourmarkets, but sought to advance operators' class interests byroutinizing production. The managerial component of the factory regimetook shape in accordance with the principles of the early 20th centuryscientific management movement. Requiring expertise in the organizationof an expanded, technologically sophisticated exploitation process,operators presided over the establishment of logging engineeringprograms in the region's universities. Graduates introducedrational planning procedures to coastal logging, contributing to a rateof deforestation that generated a corporate call for technical forestryexpertise after 1930. Industrial foresters then emerged from theuniversities to provide firms with data needed for long-rangeinvestment decisions in land acquisition and management.

Part II constitutes an environmental and political history ofclearcutting. This reconstructs the process of scientific researchconcenring the factory regime's impact on the ecology of theDouglas fir forest, assessing how knowledge was utitized in theregulation of cutting practices. Analysis of business-governmentrelations in British Columbia, Washington and Oregon suggests that thereliance of those client states on revenues generated by timber capitalenouraged a pattern of regulation that served corporate rather thansocial and ecological ends.

Publisher: Vancouver : UBC Press, c1998
ISBN: 9780774805919
Characteristics: xxiii, 286 p. : ill., 1 map ; 24 cm


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