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The British Columbia Experience:
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As British Columbians, trees are a constant in our landscape. Every part of the province contains the ever present conifer trees. Forestry is the harvesting of trees for lumber and paper pulp. This assignment explores the relationship that British Columbians have had with trees and the industry of forestry.
First, lets look at a snapshot of the natural history of the province before we take a close up look at one industry, the paper mill.
PART 2: Pulp and Paper Industry
The pulp and paper industry consists of manufacturing enterprises that convert predominantly woody plant material into a wide variety of pulps, papers and paperboards.
The pulp and paper industry consists of manufacturing enterprises that convert predominantly woody plant material into a wide variety of pulps, papers and paperboards. The Canadian industry began in the 1800s, and has undergone revolutionary changes over the years. Most recently, the move from newsprint to electronic media caused the industry to decline; however, pulp and paper remains a fundamental part of the Canadian economy, especially for remote and northern communities.
Understanding the Industry
Typically, paper has been made from “pulping” or crushing fibrous plant or woody material into its cellulose components using either friction or chemicals. During this process the waste, or non-cellulose material, is eliminated, as is the water, which is removed using heat and pressure, resulting in paper. The world’s first sheets were made in ancient Egypt by layering thinly-cut strips of papyrus plants at right angles (the word “paper” is derived from papyrus). However, the modern process of turning pulp into paper was born in China during roughly the earliest part of the Common Era. When knowledge of this enterprise migrated to Europe near the end of the first millennium, the raw material of choice for paper-making became animal skins and the product was called parchment paper. Its high cost spurred a search for a cheaper raw material, namely old cotton and linen rags. By the 19th century, trends in the Western World — including rising literacy rates and the proliferation of high-circulation newspapers — spurred a drive to find an even less expensive raw material, and wood was chosen. European (largely German) papermakers developed machines to break down logs from various tree species into pulps and also dry and flatten the pulps using a series of rollers that grew progressively larger and faster. This allowed for the mass production of many types of pulps and papers, of which newsprint was by far the least expensive. The former were turned into an ever-widening array of items, most importantly personal hygiene products such as tissues and toilet paper.
The Industry’s Pioneering Years in Canada, 1800–1900
Canada’s pulp and paper industry was born in the early 1800s. During its nascent years, the industry was relatively tiny, diversified and localized. Initially, the need for paper was met by importing it from the United States. But as the colony’s population grew, so too did demand for paper, spurring the industry’s growth. Paper producers were initially clustered in the urban centres of Ontario, Québec and Nova Scotia. They located there to be near their raw material (rags) and markets, and most were erected by newspaper proprietors. The first of these enterprises was built over the course of 1803–1805 by James Brown. His Argenteuil Paper Manufactory in St. Andrews East (near present-day Montréal) was associated with the newspaper now known as the Montreal Gazette.
The development of Canada’s modern pulp and paper industry took place in the second half of the 19th century, and was marked by several trends. First, the industry paradoxically both diversified and specialized. It began churning out much larger volumes of a wider variety of products, including book paper, printing paper, wallpaper and wrapping paper. At the same time, the demand for newsprint was growing exponentially, and it spurred a number of entrepreneurs to focus exclusively on manufacturing this type of paper. John Riordon was on the vanguard of this movement, and his devotion to it earned him the title, ‘the father of the Canadian newsprint industry.’ He built his flagship mill in Merritton, Ontario, along the Welland Canal, roughly five years before Confederation.
Soon after 1867, Riordon’s firm arguably became the first in Canada to convert to using wood instead of rags as its raw material — marking one of the most important industry shifts to take place over the last quarter of the 19th century. In very short order, the country’s bounty of conifer forests and untapped water powers were eagerly sought by pulp and paper makers at home and abroad. They were interested specifically in producing newsprint, both because American demand was growing exponentially and Canada’s spruce and hydroelectric resources were its crucial raw materials. They were eyed most intensively by producers in the Northeast US, whose concerns were deepening over their rapidly dwindling supplies of pulpwood trees. The construction of a railway through Northern Ontario around this time helped render this region’s trees and cascades accessible for development.
During this time, provincial governments were thrust into playing a central role in Canada’s pulp and paper industry. Canada’s colonial legacy and the British North America Act had given them control over crown resources (i.e., public land, timber, minerals, water power, etc.). This meant that governments in Ontario, Québec and British Columbia, whose hinterlands were blessed with abundant supplies of trees and water power, held potentially enormous authority over the industry. The same was true in less well-endowed provinces, provincially those in the Maritimes. That authority was reinforced by the provincial governments’ decision to lease — and not sell outright — the timber and hydraulic resources the industry sought. When the Ontario government began executing such deals with mill developers in the 1890s, they set a precedent of landlord-tenant relationships between the politicians and the industry that other jurisdictions would soon emulate.
About 60 per cent of British Columbia is forested, accounting for approximately 19.5 per cent of the forested land in Canada.
The geology of most mountainous areas is favourable to mineralization, and BC is no exception. A wide range of metals has been discovered throughout the mountainous part of the province, including lead, zinc, gold, silver, molybdenum, copper and iron. The Peace River Lowland, northeast of the Rocky Mountains, has a different geological base consisting of younger, sedimentary rocks which have been the sources of petroleum, natural gas and coal.
BC has the largest provincial potential for electric power generation, as the heavy precipitation, steep mountain slopes and large, interior drainage basins are ideal physical conditions for the production of hydroelectric power. However, some of the large interior rivers have not been harnessed because it would damage the habitat of the Pacific salmon which spawn in the headwaters of coastal and interior rivers flowing into the Pacific Ocean.
The balance between economic development and environmental protection is particularly troublesome in British Columbia, which relies heavily on renewable resources. Early on many of the province’s resources seemed inexhaustible, but by the 1930s the coast forest was being rapidly depleted. The salmon fishery has been threatened by overfishing and the destruction of marine and river habitats in some places, and some of British Columbia’s scarce agricultural land has been lost to roads, housing and industry. Early provincial governments were primarily concerned with rapid development to promote local employment. However, especially since the Second World War, much legislation has been enacted to preserve the environment and natural resources. The success of reforestation programs has been questioned, but forestry is being managed by the principle of “sustained yield.”
Fishing is confined to certain places and times, and a freeze was placed on changing the use of agricultural land in 1973. The British Columbia Ecological Reserves Act(1971) set aside numerous reserves of representative ecosystems. Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline, which would transport petroleum and condensate between Edmonton, AB and Kitimat, BC, faces ongoing opposition from Aboriginal groups, environmental activists and politicians. However, in November 2013, Alberta and British Columbia reached an agreement regarding how to go about approving future pipeline projects.
Forestry in the Past, Present and Future of BC
Now that you have read and studied the introduction to this assignment, consider forestry from a bigger view.
Summarize the importance this resource has been, is and might be, for BC.
You may need to research other sources to fully explore this option.
Needs to be around 750 words, proper citation, proper grammar, no plagiarism.