Do you know where the products you use and the food that you eat come from? Chances are good that if you live in rural America then you probably do. Unfortunately, the vast majority of Americans who live outside of rural America have no clue where the products they use come from, nor do they want to know, either out of ignorance or out of a sense of ideology that somehow they are protecting our planet.
Recently I saw a flyer in our local paper for a national pharmacy chain where they were advertising “tree free” products that they were now carrying. After seeing this flyer I couldn’t help but wonder how many other companies were catering to this “green movement” because it is the “in” thing to do. For many, the belief is that timber harvests lead to the destruction of the environment and our planet even though science has proven that sustainably managed timber harvests do the exact opposite because a well-managed forest is a healthy forest. Many times the science is irrelevant to these people as it is more of a cause to believe in than what is proven right or wrong.
We’ve all seen or heard of numerous examples – from animal rights activists who eat meat or wear leather to the tree huggers who use countless products that are derived from wood. The example that I find the most ironic are the movie stars or recording artists who use fame as an opportunity to get on their soap box to spout rhetoric on how they’re so concerned about global warming or the environment as they get aboard their private jets – or how they object to commercial timber harvesting and yet they build these multi-million dollar mansions.
There will always be those that say one thing publicly and do just the opposite privately. Many of our elected officials have made a career out of doing just that over the years by catering to the votes. The problem is that these are the people that are making decisions or influencing the decision making process that affects the lives of all of us who work in natural resource related fields or live in rural America. For every one of us who lives, works, or recreates in rural America, there are countless more that do not, yet they are making decisions that affect how we live or work because they have the numbers.
The farming community has overcome many of the same issues in the past by educating the public on what they do and why they do it. The public’s perception of a given industry may not always be positive or correct but it is powerful. If the timber industry is
ever to be perceived for anything but what it is now, we must all do our part to educate the public and our elected officials on what we do and why we do it. Every person in this country uses products derived from wood in one fashion or another every day whether they care to admit it or not.
If we all made a concerted effort to educate those that either don’t like our industry or just don’t understand it then just maybe the next decision they make regarding it will be positive rather than negative.
Until Next Time,
Brian Nelson is the current President of the American Loggers Council and he and his brother David and father Marvin own and operate Marvin Nelson Forest Products, Inc. based out of Cornell, Michigan.
The American Loggers Council is a non-profit 501(c) (6) corporation representing professional timber harvesters in 30 states across the US. For more information, visit their web site at www.americanloggers.org or contact their office at 409-625-0206.