Main Menu

Ingmar Lee Online

Open Letter to UBC Prof. Thomas Maness re: “Active Environmentalism”

Hi Thomas,

My response embedded in your letter in Green

You say that you’re an “active environmentalist” so, given my concerns about a lack of environmentalist representation at your upcoming “BC Forum on Forest Economics and Policy” Symposium in Vancouver, and having never encountered you during my years of participation in BC’s environmental movement, I figured I had some research to do. But after an extensive Google search didn’t turn up anything, I wrote back to you to ask for something, anything to demonstrate your environmental activity.



….Well, no answer, and only 5 days till the Symposium, so I’ll just go with what I’ve got. My research has shown that you are indeed a very busy man, obviously far too busy to answer questions from annoying gnats like me. Nevertheless, here’s what my research has turned up, and, er, well, if you are the “environmental representation” amongst the Logging lackey keynotes at your Symposium, then I stand by my original complaint:

Your interests are clearly with the logging and forest-processing industry, and not with the environment.

Here below, I unpack your letter:

On 20/10/06, Thomas Maness

wrote:Hi Ingmar –

I received a copy of your email to the Landwatch Discussion List where you noted that there was not a single environmentalist on our list of speakers. You made a mistake in this observation: you overlooked my name. I have been an active environmentalist since 1968. I am the chair of the organizing committee and will be speaking at the conference.

As far as being an “active” environmentalist, I know hundreds of environmental activists across the province, and have participated in numerous forest protection efforts and environmental discussions for many years, but I’ve never heard of you, nor has anyone I’ve asked ever heard of you, or your colleague, Nicole Robinson. Perhaps you might have done something back in St. Louis where you were born and grew up, or in West Virginia, where you were educated, or even at the University of Weyerhaeus…,er ~Washington where you got your Ph.D. but there’s simply no Google record of anything that appears remotely environmental to me. I’ve searched your listed publications ( click here) but I can’t see anything remotely resembling environmental activism there.

Searching deeper into Google, I see that you are a “Principle Investigator” for the Sustainable Forest Management Network (SFMN). Here’s a list of your colleagues there:

SFMN BoD Industry Partners:

* Barry Waito (Chair), Louisiana-Pacific Canada Ltd.

* Pat Wearmouth, Weyerhaeuser Company

Partner’s Committee:

* Tim Barker, Daishowa-Marubeni International Ltd.

* Jean-Paul Bielech, Manning Diversified Forest Products

* Dave Beck, Ainsworth Lumber Co. Ltd.

* Wendy Crosina, Weyerhaeuser Company

* John Deal (alternate - Jeff Beale), Canfor Inc.

* Margaret Donnelly, Consultant, Louisiana-Pacific Canada Ltd.

* Elston Dzus, Alberta-Pacific Forest Industries Inc.

* Alternate for Elston Dzus: Shawn Wasel, Alberta-Pacific Forest Industries Inc.

* Tom Hoffman, Tolko Industries Ltd.

* Paul Jeakins, Canadian Forest Products Ltd.

* Gaétan Pelletier, J.D. Irving, Limited

* Paul Poschmann (alternate - Guy Tremblay), Abitibi-Consolidated Inc.

* Jonathan Russell, Millar Western Forest Products Ltd.

* Kari Stuart-Smith, Tembec Inc.

* Steve Viszlai (alternate - Robert Kennett), Tolko Industries Ltd.

* John MacGillivray, Bowater Inc.


* Abitibi-Consolidated Inc.

* Ainsworth Lumber Co. Ltd.

* Alberta-Pacific Forest Industries Inc. (Al-Pac)

* Bowater Inc.

* Canadian Forest Products Ltd. (Canfor)

* Daishowa-Marubeni International Ltd. (DMI)

* J.D. Irving, Limited (JDI)

* Louisiana-Pacific Canada Ltd. (LP)

* Manning Diversified (MD)

* Tembec Inc.

* Tolko Industries Ltd.

* Weyerhaeuser Company

Sheeesh!! That's quite the pack of Greensters you hobknob with!

I think if you come to hear what I have to say you might change your mind. You also missed the name of Nicole Robinson, a Forest Ecologist who is one of the most active environmentalists that I know.

Again, Nicole Robinson is unknown in BC’s environmental activist community. I attempted a Google search of her efforts, but if there’s anything there, it’s buried by other famous “Nicole Robinson” websites.

Nicole is organizing the event and she is working very hard to ensure that the public will get their say.

This is the “public” that will have to pay $75 to get in! Your admission fee for this partially tax-payer funded event ensures that none from the BC environmental activist community are likely to participate. BC’s environmental activist community is flat broke, and there are no generous industry subsidies flowing our way for such luxurious Gala events at opulent Vancouver hotels.

I want you to know that we in the Forum are working very hard to bring positive change to forest policy in British Columbia.

Well the fact that the “BC Forum on Forest Economics and Policy” was established at the UBC Forest Faculty with a generous grant from CANFOR (click here) immediately brings your Forum into disrepute. I won’t even get into the how the former CANFOR CEO David Emerson just ripped off his own Logging industry fellows for a billion dollars, half of which has now been funnelled into the “Re-elect the Republicans” campaign currently going on in the USA. ( click here) I note that you have the swashbuckling TimberWest privateer, Hamish Kerr on your Keynote Speaker’s roster. ( Click here) to read Mr. Kerr’s draconian Neocon solutions for BC’s Public Forests. The fact that TimberWest, which is amongst the most ruthless and voracious forest destroyers in BC, is a major financier of this Symposium immediately brings it into disrepute.

As an environmentalist, I appreciate open mindedness, honesty and frank and open discussion. That’s what the BC Forum is about.

Further, in your capacity as Associate Professor of Forest Economics, Department of Forest Resources Management at UBC, you received a chunk of your $431,000 funding from, who else, Canadian Forest Products Ltd to build a computer model “that will provide a new way for the public to view proposed landscape changes and assess various tradeoffs so that researchers can more accurately determine public preferences toward forested areas” and will provide “a broad picture of how the public determines what it is prepared to trade-off in order to protect forest values they care about.” ( click here)

Searching further, we find that you are a Coordinator of the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) and are working to promote the use of the latest engineering technology in the automation of wood and wood fiber processing plants. Examples of this technology include robotics, scanning technology, computer applications, and expert systems, for example, to provide more effective and efficient wood processing and conversion systems.

But where’s the environmental activism?

That’s why we have the panel discussion as the main part of the event. Vaughn Palmer will be involving the audience in the discussion, and everyone will have an opportunity to get their message across. Vaughn won’t be asking easy questions.

It would have been a challenge to find a more devoted Neocon logging industry lackey than Vancouver Sun columnist Vaughn Palmer. If environment is big on your agenda, why not get the only CanWest Global reporter with Green credibility, which is Stephen Hume?

We are also exploring other ways to actively involve the public in this event, so there may be some surprises.

Well, 5 days to go, -you’d better surprise us fast.

It really is time for all of us to take an active role in shaping a new generation of environmentalists that face the realities of our world which is spinning out of control on so many fronts. Very little is accomplished by applying demeaning labels to people because they don’t share your beliefs, instead the task is to develop sound arguments that carry the day. If we can do this we can bring the mainstream into the fight.

“Shaping a New Generation of Environmentalists??!” Is that the “active role” you are taking down there at the UBC Logging department? I worked in the silviculture industry for 21 years all across BC, and I know the UBC logging department spawn which inspected our work. Straight out of school, they went to work for logging companies, and their job was to quantify the value of a patch of forest, to figure out how to rip it out as cheap as possible, and to throw some chemicals and vegetation back at the stumpfield that would get past the infill brush as fast as possible to get that cut-block off the books. That’s what they learned at UBC, and that’s what has justified the ongoing massacre of the forests.

I encourage you and everyone on your mailing list to attend the Forum event and get involved in forest policy. BC’s environmentalist community in the past has done a magnificent job of pointing out the environmental problems we face. It is now time to also deal with economic problems of forest dependent communities and the social ills and inequities that are coincident with the rapid depletion of our environmental capital.

I’m amazed that you can write this with a straight face, given the folks who will be speaking at your Symposium. I’m surprised you don’t have Patrick Moore himself at the podium.

The choices that we face in BC are not easy ones, in fact they are far too easy to oversimplify. Only by understanding a wide range of viewpoints can we develop workable solutions. If you participate in this event you may be assured of one thing. We at the BC Forum will be listening to you.

Best regards,

Thomas Maness

Thomas Maness

Associate Professor of Forest Economics
Department of Forest Resources Management
University of British Columbia

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


With much less than 20% of this Earth’s final intact tracts of (wild, ancient, old-growth, pristine, primaeval -take your pick) forests remaining, the proper, ethical thing for all active environmentalists to be doing, is to work to protect everything that is left from the scourge of commercial extraction, NOW. Period. There are no “sound arguments” that can justify destroying more pristine wilderness anywhere, and no so-called certified logging practice is acceptable any more in such forests.

People like you, and the Logging-Lackey institutions you work for such as UBC, the University of Weyerhaeuser, and the most recently notorious Oregon State University Logging dept.will always continue to find new ways to scam so-called certified low impact logging in our ever-dwindling patches of intact forests. As the forest is exhausted, your efforts are a shot-gun blast further pocking the scattered final refugia tufts which remain.

Cheers, Ingmar