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MacKay, Donald.

Toronto, Macmillan, c1985. 272pp,cloth, $24.95, ISBN 0-7715-9828-9. CIP

Grades 11 and up
Reviewed by Dave Jenkinson

Volume 13 Number 6
1985 November

As both title and subtitle suggest, MacKay wishes to alert average citizens to the plight of Canada's forests, which presently account for one-fifth of all export dollars and, directly or indirectly, for one in every ten Canadian jobs. According to him, 150 years of forest exploitation and mismanagement by government and industry may mean that now, when world demand for forest products is about to increase sharply, Canada will be unable to respond. MacKay, the author of histories of Canadian logging, The Lumberjacks (McGraw, 1978), and the MacMillan Bloedel Company's Empire of Wood (Douglas & McIntyre, 1982), was sponsored by the Forestry Awareness in Canada Trust (FACT) to travel across Canada and research the book over a two-year period.

Drawing upon conference and royal commission reports, plus interview data, and utilizing a chronological approach, MacKay demonstrates how general ignorance of the true status of the nation's forests has caused the general public, and shortsighted politicians and businessmen, to remain unaware that the continuing degradation of the country's forest may make it practically impossible to reverse the damage being done. Instead of mining forests, industry and government must treat them like a renewable heritage through programs of sustained yield wherein balance is achieved between growth and harvest rates.

MacKay describes the major people, conferences, and commissions that have tried to alert the principal players, industry and the federal and provincial governments, to the problem, but notes that while all have profited handsomely, each expects the other to bear the major costs for forest renewal. Additionally, since it takes some fifty years to regrow a forest, this time frame seemingly is too long for the thinking of most next-election-oriented politicians and immediate-profit-minded firms, and, therefore, citizens must apply appropriate political pressures to guarantee future forest-based industries.

Thirty black-and-white photos, eight pages of colour photos and six maps enhance the text. Despite an index, the nationwide approach MacKay uses might reduce the book's use in schools where the curriculum focuses on a particular forest region.

Dave Jenkinson, Faculty of Education, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Man.
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