Friday, November 09, 2012

Another Victim of Globalization - Britain's Trees.


British Columbians were, and remain, incensed that trade agreements prevented our government from blocking the export of raw logs.  We wanted the log processing jobs from the sawmills to wood fibre and pulp processing opportunities.   We can't, we were told by Victoria, our hands are tied.

Britons are now being told their country will suffer because of trade deals that left their government's hands tied.   This time the loss won't be jobs but Britain's Ash trees.

The British government claims it was powerless to prevent the importation of diseased Ash trees that spread their infection to the country's native Ash groves.

The government claimed it was powerless to ban imports of infected trees because its "hands were tied" by EU and world trade rules when it was warned in September 2009 that ash dieback disease could have a huge impact on the British countryside, the Guardian has learned.
 ...Burgess wrote that it had become apparent "fairly recently" that the disease – which the commission understood to be caused by Chalara fraxinea – had a form caused by a different fungus called Hymenoscyphus albidus. This, he said, "was widespread across Europe, including here in Britain.

"This fact alone precludes us from initiating an emergency response under the European Union plant health directive and we would also fall foul of our international obligations under the World Trade Organisation," he wrote.

When will we come to our senses and realize that globalization and world trade agreements were shaped to the needs of the world in the late 70's, a world that has sadly been replaced by the much more challenging and dangerous world of the 21st century.   Those agreements have lost much of their utility and purpose.   If you have a chance I strongly urge you to read Stiglitz' discussion of the flaws in globalization in his new book, "The Price of Inequality."  It is a compelling eye-opener and reveals we are heading much too fast down a dead end road.

3 comments:

harebell said...

The initial cases of Ash Dieback in the UK were located in Norfolk and Suffolk and were thought to have entered the UK on the wind from mainland Europe. In fact there are models that say this could have occurred in the form of plumes of spores. This not to say the issue wouldn't be exacerbated by importing more infection. I also am sceptical of a British rightwing government using European Union rules as a cover for it's own messing up.

The other problem with Ash is that it is so prevalent that in areas a virtual monoculture exists. This means that any predatory organism gets into the population will run rampant. Luckily some European Ash trees seem to have genetic immunity to the fungus so the Ash might recover. The problem then is that if anything comes along and by passes that immunity the Ash will be no more.
Local authorities everywhere need to take note of this and discourage the use of one tree variety in neighbourhoods and new developments or there will be repeats of Pine beetle, Ash dieback and Dutch Elm disease tearing apart great swathes of woodland.

Hugh said...

What is the trade agreement that prevents the govt from blocking raw log exports?

Thanks.

The Mound of Sound said...

@ Harebell. Thanks for this information.

@ Hugh. It began with NAFTA. Here on Vancouver Island there were protests against raw log exports. We thought we ought to have the right to processing jobs. The Americans went after us and won. Then they went after us again claiming our softwood exports were illegally subsidized. At that point they levied countervailing tariffs on the raw logs we were compelled - by them - to export. The money went to American forest companies and they used it to fund further legal actions against Canada.

I think that, subsequent to the NAFTA scraps, the WTO also moved to prevent raw log export restrictions.