________________ CM . . . . Volume V Number 4 . . . . October 16, 1998

cover Forestry.
(Perspectives in Science 2 Series).

Julie Stanfel (Producer).
Montreal, PQ: National Film Board of Canada. 1997.
VHS, 59 min., colour (includes a 35 pp. Teacher's Guide), $39.95.
Order number C9194 029.

Subject Headings:
Forests and forestry.
Forest ecology.
Forest conservation.

Grades 9 - 12 / Ages 14 - 17.
Review by David Colborne.

*** /4

The purpose of this forestry video is to "explore diversity, natural succession, energy flows, clonal propagation, soil protection and ... on-going research into forest ecosystems," to explore how logging companies implement "silviculture plans, fisheries and wildlife protection strategies, site preparation, harvesting operations and post harvest treatments," and finally to look at alternatives to clear-cutting. It is organized into five chapters - an initial drama which illustrates the dilemmas facing modern forest managers, and four subsequent chapters entitled "Discussion," "Analysis," "Perspectives" and "Alternatives." Each of these is further subdivided into "Science," "Technology", and "Society" segments.

      The video is accompanied by a "Teacher's Guide," which I did not have, but it is clear that the segments of this video are meant to be used as starting points for more indepth study. Any teacher wanting to use this video to anchor a forestry study module would have to supplement it with other resources, especially materials that would clarify many of the terms and concepts mentioned in the video such as "vegetation management" [a euphemism for the use of broadleaf herbicides].

      The drama is awkward, but it does raise the most pertinent questions surrounding the forest industry - is the short term economic benefit of intensive logging worth the ecological cost, and if not, are there realistic alternatives? The ensuing sections provide students with enough scientific, technological, and sociological background to at least begin to address these fundamental questions.

      The video covers an incredible number of relevant aspects of forestry and does so from many viewpoints. Scientists, Aboriginals, environmentalists, consultants, government officials, conventional loggers, and horse loggers all offer their perspectives and discuss their work and concerns. Since there are so many of them and their views so dissimilar, this video could be confusing if it is not methodically supplemented with classroom discussion time.

      Some of the most persuasive viewpoints are the "technology" segments in which logging company employees demonstrate how they systematically log and reforest. The "Society" segments, for the most part, provide a good counterpoint to the persuasiveness of the logging company claims. Unfortunately the weakest parts of the videos are some of the "Science" segments, consisting of professors discussing basic concepts at length. I had hoped that the science segments would have shed some light on the credibility of the claims both of the loggers and the environmentalists.

      In spite of the appearance of structure in the video, there is actually little discussion or analysis. It consists mostly of commentary of the "talking heads" variety, and visuals are rarely tied directly to comments. Specific questions are not often raised, and little attempt is made to answer questions or verify any contending claims that are made. Although many issues are discussed, it is up to the teacher or facilitator to identify the questions which need addressing and to attempt to answer these questions.

      The highlight of the video is the horse logging segment which is presented as an alternative to intensive clearcut logging. As with the rest of the video, however, the viability of such a logging system is not explored in any systematic way.

      In spite of these shortcomings, I would recommend this video as an excellent resource around which to build a comprehensive study of forestry practices. Given the complexity of the topic, it is best suited for high school students. Possible supplementary resources include Elizabeth May's recent book, At the Cutting Edge: The Crisis in Canada's Forest and Natural Resources Canada's The State of Canada's Forests 1996-1997.

      This video is close captioned. The two other videos in NFB's Perspectives in Science 2 Series are entitled Soil and Air. The three volume set is also available for $125.00 citing order number 193C 9197.


David Colborne is the librarian at Nova Scotia's Department of Natural Resources.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364