Forest Follies


220 pages
Contains Photos, Index
ISBN 1-55017-192-5
DDC 333.75'0971






Reviewed by Patrick Colgan

Patrick Colgan is the former executive director of the Canadian Museum
of Nature.


The focus of this informative book by B.C. writer and journalist Ben
Parfitt is the destruction of forests, watersheds, and associated Native
life. The 10 essays, most of which are reprinted from the Georgia
Straight, are grouped under four sections.

“Using and Abusing the Land” includes an illuminating comparison of
approaches to land use in British Columbia and Ontario, particularly
with respect to the roles of industry and environmentalists. There is a
historical perspective on North American logging and an analysis of
logging methods. Other essays examine the plight of Chilcotin wood
caribou, the dynamics of bear populations interacting closely with
humans, and our garbage dumps. In the section titled “Milling and
Drilling,” increasingly expensive logging operations in British
Columbia are strikingly contrasted with cheaper ones in Alabama. Also
starkly outlined are the dimensions of an unsustainable pulp industry
that continues to gobble up vast resources and the impact of oil and gas
operations on continental economics. “Running Hot and Cold” features
alarming accounts of the pollution of watersheds resulting from logging
and cattle grazing, and of the potential export of freshwater amid a
growing global shortage, especially in China. In “Changing Our
Minds,” Parfitt considers more responsible alternatives to current
directions, particularly for logging and the herring fishery.

Recurrent themes include the irremedial loss of enormous amounts of
habitat, the greed of industry, the inadequacy of government, and the
struggles of conservationists and Natives to alter the course of events.
Specific factors such as global trade and selective logging are
carefully highlighted, as are possible changes such as wind power and
improvements in local administration. In this forthright account, the
author aptly depicts the famous Golden Spruce, now only a stump, as
emblematic of the current situation. Highly recommended.


Parfitt, Ben., “Forest Follies,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 23, 2024,