The Future Forest Industry
by Dan Lewis, Tofino
I traveled from Tofino, BC to Tokyo, Japan with Gisele and Joe Martin,
members of the Tla-o-quiaht First Nations. We were representing the
Friends of Clayoquot Sound.
Hundreds of companies and publishers across America and Europe have
been developing procurement policies to avoid purchase of products
from the world’s few remaining frontier forests. For example,
the Canadian edition of Harry Potter was printed on Ancient Forest
Friendly paper. The reason for this change is simple: many consumers
are choosing to purchase products that are not part of the chain of
destruction of these globally rare ecosystems. Let’s face it:
business is causing most of our environmental problems, therefore business
(and consumers) can choose to be part of the solution. While in Japan
we had the good fortune to meet a businessman with a very progressive
approach to these issues. His name is Tachi Kiuchi, co-author of the
book What We Learned in the Rainforest. Kiuchi-san is the Chairman
and ceo Emeritus of Mitsubishi Electric America.
Mitsubishi knows a thing or two about the movement to save the rainforests.
They were targeted by Rainforest Action Network (RAN) in the late
eighties for their destruction of tropical rainforests. Kiuchi-san
letters from schoolchildren about this issue. His company had nothing
to do with the Mitsubishi that was destroying the forests, but he
became personally interested and investigated.
The book describes his personal journey, and is a fascinating read.
His conclusion is that we are shifting from an industrial economy where
we used our muscles to extract resources from Nature, often leaving
a mess in our wake, to an information economy, where we use our minds
to extract the lessons of Nature. He feels that if we model our businesses
on Nature, we can learn to survive. For example, there is no “garbage” in
Nature. One organism’s waste is another organism’s sustenance.
We inhale oxygen, and exhale carbon dioxide. Trees do the opposite!
I believe the economy of Tofino has already shifted from an industrial
to an information economy, yet the forest industry is alive and well
here. It may not be recognizable as such to those wearing the blinders
of industrial forestry, but there is a vibrant economy, with many
companies providing jobs for many more people, who make a living in
Tlaook Cultural Adventures is a prime example of this new version
of the forest industry. Gisele Martin, owner and operator, was last
awarded the Aboriginal Tourism bc Young Adult Achievement Award for
her success in getting her company up and running.
Gisele’s father, Joe Martin, and her uncles Bill and Carl, are
master canoe carvers. They take one ancient cedar from the forest,
and produce a big canoe. This canoe is then used over and over to generate
income. The breathtaking wildness of Tla-o-qui-aht traditional territory,
namely mountains blanketed in rainforest, is the draw, the reason people
choose to paddle here. Gisele takes her guests on a “Wild Grocery
Walk” in the ancient groves of Meares Island, sharing her incredible
knowledge of the forest. And to top it off, there is a traditional
Native salmon BBQ, also provided courtesy of the wild forests.
It was an honor to travel with Joe and Gisele in Japan, and to join
them in their meetings with Japanese corporations. As members of the
Wolf Clan, they share a responsibility to uphold the laws of their
people, which is why Joe and Gisele chose to travel to Japan. Their
message was so moving that, as one executive walked us to the elevator
afterwards, he said to Gisele “Ganbatte kudasai!” which
means, “Keep up the struggle!” For more information check
out www.focs.ca and www.tlaook.com. Thanks to the Friends of Clayoquot
Sound for organising the tour, and Patagonia USA and Japan for funding
and hosting it.
Dan Lewis and Bonny Glambeck operate Rainforest Kayak Adventures
in Clayoquot Sound 1-877-422-WILD
Tofino Nature & Wildlife Articles
Tofino seakayak expert Dan Lewis writes about his vision for the future forest industry and cites examples in Tofino that are already taking the path of ecologic responsibility.