BC Treeplanters Revolted
Amongst all the myriads of industrial horrors that treeplanters are exposed to in BC, nothing is more disgusting than the use of the Swedish-invented pigs blood product called "Plantskydd." Thanks to Gordo, the American pig-slaughtering industry has now found an eager destination to spew their offal by-product: into BC forests.
"Baggin up the blood" Photo: Sophia Joubarne
The industrial philosophy behind using pigs blood is this: it's cheaper than physical ungulate (hoofed animal) barriers such as vexars, galvanized mesh cages, chorplasts or even "hide-and-create microsites" whereby the planters are expected to construct slash fortresses around each tree to protect them from the forest-destroying varmints. Plantskydd, which is now produced in the USA, is usually drizzled into boxes of seedlings at the nursery after the trees have been lifted and wrapped. Then, ostensibly the blood is allowed to "dry out on the foliage" prior to being sent out to the field. Plantskydd is also often applied directly out in the field immediately after planting (ie: before the ungulates get to them) by spray-pump applicators. Treeplanters have even been required to dip their bundles into garbage cans of freshly rehydrated pigs blood while 'bagging up,' -generally along with 20lbs of chemical fertilizer for each run of trees.
Plantskydd is so utterly repulsive that deer, caribou, moose and elk and even Pika's, Marmots and other rodents all run screaming out of the stumpfields whenever they get the slightest whiff of it. From the Plantskydd website: "... Plantskydd stimulates a fear-based response which will have them looking for somewhere else to dine..." But Plantskydd is also hideously repulsive to treeplanters, especially to Muslim, Hindu, Jewish and Vegetarian treeplanters who are also required to handle it at work. Every treeplanter, bar none, despises this product. I've seen whole crews retching in nausea and horror during the first morning bag-up as they face the bloody gore that is inevitably involved with the use of Plantskydd. Occasionally, the pigs blood may be be dried on the seedling foliage when it leaves the nursery, but more often than not, it arrives on the cutblocks still liquid and glistening on the trees. As soon as the boxes are opened an overwhelming rotten stench wafts out, and a gruesome miasma spreads over the cutblock which lingers all day. When it rains, one's bags, clothes and equipment are soon slathered in dripping, industrial feed-lot porcine slaughterhouse gore. No amount of rain stops a treeplanting show, and on rainy days, no amount of rain gear prevents the pigs blood from soaking right through ones clothing and into one's skin. On hot days it smears and stinks and attracts a lot of flies.
Forests and Ranges are mutually exclusive landscapes, but BC government's on-going ancient-forest-liquidation /conversion plantation "Forest and Range" management plan is to create 1,000,000's of hectares of stumpfield ungulate and cattle range-land as fast as possible. BC's vast interior forests are being levelled on an inconceivably enormous scale and turned to pasture. Previous industrial logging assaults on these forests have exacerbated an epidemic of Mountain Pine beetles, which the industry is using to justify the removal of all standing biomass from the forests, whether or not it has been killed by the beetles. Plantskydd doesn't work for beetles which are also consuming the provinces enormous monoculture pine plantations alongside the ungulates, thereby relegating vast tracts of landscape to inevitable pasture. Cattle utterly destroy the plantations, trampling and crushing the seedlings, and asphyxiating them under cow-pies. At times, planting trees out there is like scattering succulent little lettuces across the denuded landscape. Desperate wild ungulates, blinking in the clearcut glare, can often be seen following the planters all day, walking, and then bowing down their heads every 3 metres or so to eat the little trees.
At Haida Gwaii, in spite of massive effort, giant logging corporations such as Weyerhaeuser have been unable to replace the magnificent ancient cedar forests they destroy on account of massive stock-browsing by deer, -deer which are an invasive species introduced for the first time to the islands by Christian missionaries about a century ago. Cedar seedlings are the ultimate delicacy for the vast herds of hungry deer which now roam the plantations. Every single planted cedar on Haida Gwaii must be vigilantly protected. The Weyerhaeuser-lackey Gordon Campbell government policy for BC forests is simply this: maximum extraction with minimum investment. Thanks to Gordo, the American pig-slaughtering industry has now found an eager destination to spew their offal by-product: into BC forests.
Prior to Gordo, thousands of tree-spacers and pruners used to work in the BC forests, offering the final silvicultural improvements to the plantations, usually about 15 years post-logging. Spacing parameters on Haida Gwaii were to leave the best hemlock or spruce every 4 metres and cut everything else down, -except cedar. No cedar was to be cut, and whole days of cutting would go by without seeing a single one, -they were so rare, they were to be left as 'ghost trees' and ignored by the spacers. Since the arrival of Gordon Campbell, all value-added silviculture work such as spacing and pruning has ground to a halt, -in order to save more money for the logging corporations, which now have even less responsibility for the future forest than ever before. Now BC's professional treeplanters are required to vector of this disgusting product into our forests. In addition to the indignity of being forced to handle this revolting product, obvious health risks of being repeatedly exposed to any kind of blood product terrify the planters.
But neither the BC logging industry, nor its lackey, Gordon Campbell could give a shit about treeplanters being grossed out at work, or about being exposed to blood-products against their will, or in many cases, against their religion. For them, the industrial-scale use of Pigs Blood is an integral aspect of their maxed-out fibre-per-year-per-hectare forest management vision for BC. For us, it's a revolting and degrading experience which all treeplanters hate.
Just imagine yourself arriving at work to discover that your job description now requires you to handle American factory-farm Pork-industry blood-products which will soak through your clothes all day. That's what, amongst other industrial horrors is what BC's treeplanters are facing.
Plantskyyd is distributed around the world by Claude Boisvert, a former BC Treeplanting Contractor and founder of Screef Magazine (used to cover BC treeplanters issues) Here's his website: http://www.plantskydd.com
Ingmar Lee has retired from being exposed to pigs blood and many other horrors after a 21-year career during which he planted more than 1,000,000 trees. He can be reached at his website, www.ingmarlee.com