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 Featured Title
Clearcutting the Pacific Rain Forest
Production, Science, and Regulation
Richard A. Rajala  

$31.95 Hardcover
Release Date: 4/20/1998
ISBN: 9780774805902    

$31.95 Paperback
Release Date: 2/1/1999
ISBN: 9780774805919    

312 Pages


About the Book

Winner, 1997 Charles A. Weyerhauser Book Award, Forest History Society

This book integrates class, environmental, and political analysis to uncover the history of clearcutting in the Douglas fir forests of B.C., Washington, and Oregon between 1880 and 1965.

Part I focuses on the mode of production, analyzing the technological and managerial structures of worker and resource exploitation from the perspective of current trends in labour process research. Rajala argues that operators sought to neutralize the variable forest environment by emulating the factory model of work organization. The introduction of steam-powered overhead logging methods provided industry with a rudimentary factory regime by 1930, accompanied by productivity gains and diminished workplace autonomy for loggers. After a Depression-inspired turn to selective logging with caterpillar tractors timber capital continued its refinement of clearcutting technologies in the post-war period, achieving complete mechanization of yarding with the automatic grapple. Driviing this process of innovation was a concept of industrial efficiency that responded to changing environmental conditions, product and labour markets, but sought to advance operators' class interests by routinizing production. The managerial component of the factory regime took shape in accordance with the principles of the early 20th century scientific management movement. Requiring expertise in the organization of an expanded, technologically sophisticated exploitation process, operators presided over the establishment of logging engineering programs in the region's universities. Graduates introduced rational planning procedures to coastal logging, contributing to a rate of deforestation that generated a corporate call for technical forestry expertise after 1930. Industrial foresters then emerged from the universities to provide firms with data needed for long-range investment decisions in land acquisition and management.

Part II constitutes an environmental and political history of clearcutting. This reconstructs the process of scientific research concenring the factory regime's impact on the ecology of the Douglas fir forest, assessing how knowledge was utitized in the regulation of cutting practices. Analysis of business-government relations in British Columbia, Washington and Oregon suggests that the reliance of those client states on revenues generated by timber capital enouraged a pattern of regulation that served corporate rather than social and ecological ends.

About the Author(s)

Richard A. Rajala is a historian living in Victoria, B.C.

Table of Contents



Part I: Machines, Managers, and Exploitation

1. The Forest as Factory: Technological Change in West Coast Logging 1880-1965
2. Managing the Factory Regime: The Emergence of Logging Engineering and Industrial Forestry 1880-1965

Part II: Clearcutting, Conservation, and the State

3. Clearcutting, Forest Science, and Regulation 1880-1930
4. Depression-Era Forestry in the Pacific Northwest: Selective Logging, a New Regulation Debate, and the State Option
5. Forest Practice Regulation and the British Columbia State in the 1930s: A Missed Opportunity for Reform
6. State and Provincial Regulation: Industry Control and the Denial of Silviculture 1940-65




Rajala's contribution to our understanding of changes in the labour process; the relationship of science, capital, and technology; and the dynamics of government policy is impressive.

- Gordon Hak, BC Studies

The clearcutting/selection cutting controversy in Pacific Northwest forests and a century of industry doublespeak are laid bare by Rajala's digging and sifting.

- Bill Henderson, Vancouver Sun

This is a fascinating book and, unusual in many such volumes, a good read. deserves a place on the library shelves of all those institutions whose interests include forest history, ecology, social, environmental and political issues.

- J.C. Hetherington, Forestry

Sample Chapter

A sample chapter of this title is not available at this time. For further information, please email

Related Topics

Environmental Studies
BC Studies
BC Studies > Environment
BC Studies > Forestry

Other Ways To Order

In Canada, order your copy of Clearcutting the Pacific Rain Forest from UTP Distribution at:

UTP Distribution
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Toronto, Ontario
M3H 5T8

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Fax orders: 1(800)221-9985 or (416)667-7832

Ordering information for customers outside Canada

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