An Editorial Opinion – Right From The Stump, March 24, 2022
(A version of the following blog post was originally published as article in the View From The Stump newsletter, February 2022, under the title “Time To Join The 21st Century”)
During a recent Truck Loggers Association (“TLA”) Talks event on March 24, 2022, speakers referenced this article multiple times along with the comment that there is a need for effective use of social media by the forest sector...
British Columbia’s forest industry is losing a battle against those who would prefer the sector be reduced to a small cottage industry.
The evidence is of such loss is real – major changes to forest policy have been implemented by the BC government, without much apparent regard to the industry
The industry has barely shown up to the fight due to an unwillingness to engage in a public campaign designed to illicit emotions. All the while the effective use of social media by the industry’s antagonists has been a game changer for the public’s perception of forestry.
Some industry folks believe the public perceives the industry as “bad” so it’s better not to put ourselves out there. In my opinion, that’s wrong. There has been an information vacuum in showing the public what, when, how and why of forestry. Minimal credence by the industry to this vacuum has left others to fill it with their own misguided narratives.
The BC forest industry underutilizes social media and leaves messaging to associations or grass-roots advocacy groups, which do their best on limited budgets. There needs to be more in the form of genuine connections from the individual companies – the employers, the forest managers, the manufacturers, and the leaders. Just because a company has well-paying jobs, does not entitle it to sit back. That should be obvious with how the industry is being treated/regarded today. The forest industry must up its social media game.
When it comes to BC forestry and social media, it is not merely a domain for making announcements about executives’ promotions and new acquisitions or to advertise job postings. The public (and sometimes even the sector’s own workers) needs to know what the industry does – there is so much more than the image of harvesting trees and producing 2x4s.
BC forestry has a great story to tell that desperately should be told… again… and again. There are so many positive stories to convey, ranging from the evolution of our forest management practices, the development and use hi-tech equipment, to the pride and passion of its workers and so on.
The power of social media should not be underestimated, even when the odds are against you. Just look to Ukraine’s President Zelensky as he wins hearts and rallies support for his country using Facebook.
If the industry wants to survive, it needs to show the public what we do – this is how social licence is built in the 21stcentury.
Sometimes the message is as simple as showing the public, yes indeed the forest grows back after timber harvesting. That’s why I have chosen this blog post’s cover image of a harvested area from where I had once collected firewood that has since been reforested. Now, 14 years later this area looks vibrant and well on its way to becoming a new forest.
Forests do grow back! A simple message – one that everyone in the industry needs to share!
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Written By David Elstone, RPF
Publisher, View From The Stump newsletter
Managing Director, Spar Tree Group Inc.