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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.