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Industry & Ecology

UN Threatens to Trump US Land Policy

by Cheryl K. Chumley

It's a clash of the titans. On one side there are well-funded
environmental groups and eco-lobbyists; on the other, free-market
advocates and strict constitutional constructionists. But these are just
the internal forces at play. At the global level, the United Nations is
proposing a new treaty that holds potential to render moot US
congressional decisions.

The outcome of this battle will determine whether the Roadless Area
Conservation Rule (passed Jan. 12, 2001) should be amended to open the
doors to timber harvesting on our nation's federally protected lands.
The Dept. of Agriculture's Forest Service just extended the comment
period on these suggested changes, from Sept. 14 to Nov. 15, but tying
into the issue is an almost simultaneous proposal from the United
Nations Conference on Trade and Development. This body wants to develop
a "successor agreement" to its U.S.-backed International Tropical Timber
Agreement (ITTA). If enacted, this agreement would require participating
nations to abide by restrictive land management policies that will
likely include blanket prohibitions on timber harvests. In effect, it
could usurp conclusions reached at the congressional level regarding
America's forests.

As for the internal debate, these proposed changes can be seen as a nod
to Tenth Amendment supporters, seeking to preserve states' rights.
President Clinton's last-hour rule prohibited, with little exception,
road construction and timber harvest on all federally protected forests
nationwide. However, this new mandate seeks to reallocate a semblance of
states' rights by requiring governors to identify areas of desired
preservation and, if there is a perceived need, request Forest Service
intervention. The Forest Service, in turn, can decline to intervene. And
it's this aspect of the proposal - along with an interim directive draft
provision giving regional foresters temporary authority to recommend
"road construction, reconstruction or timber harvest projects in
inventoried roadless areas," - that have environmental groups in an

"The Bush administration's announcement will immediately imperil wild
forests across the country, leaving them vulnerable to commercial timber
sales and road building," said Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope.
"These wild forests are special places of national significance and need
a national policy to ensure their proper management."

Imperil? Here is yet another prediction of doom that is unlikely to be
realized. Not only is it unlikely that regional foresters will suddenly
give permission, en masse, to build roads or harvest all the available
timber in all the nation's protected forests, but it is also improbable
that every governor would abstain completely from requesting the Feds to
oversee land management policy - especially when such oversight often
brings funding with it.

That logic aside, even the Green groups must admit that the sheer
abundance of Roadless Rule court challenges in the past three years
proves these Clinton-era prohibitions are on shaky legal ground, and the
time for some sort of policy change has arrived.

This mandate offers states the ability to participate in the decision
making process, which Clinton's rule denied. "During the development of
the roadless rule in 1999 and 2000, the governors of several western
states requested cooperating agency status to work with the Forest
Service in the development of . the roadless rule. These requests were
all denied," a Forest Service background paper reads. "Over the past
several years the roadless rule has been the subject of nine lawsuits in
federal district courts in Idaho, Utah, North Dakota, Wyoming, Alaska
and the District of Columbia." This in itself would seem like a
reasonable explanation as to why the administration is now attempting to
fine-tune this rule.

However, because of recent developments at the global level, it seems
that even if Congress passes these revisions, there may be little actual
change. By 2005, the United Nations hopes to solidify its successor, the
International Tropical Timber Agreement (ITTA), and that action could
clamp whatever allowances are granted at the congressional level.

The ITTA, a U.N. measure the United States signed July 1, 1999, and
accepted Nov. 14, 1996, created an organization that controls the
world's production (and consumption) of timber. The agreement, overseen
and administered by the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development, labels
nations as either timber producers or consumers and allots voting quotas
based on levels of production versus consumption - with more voting
weight granted to the former. The United States, a consumer, therefore
does not possess the same ability to control - via ballot - the
application of this agreement, as many of the producing nations do (e.g.
Indonesia or Malaysia).

The agreement purports to establish a timber market that is not only
"fair" to all nations, but supportive of sustainable development ideals
- that is, the environment should take precedence over selfish corporate
concerns. Ironically, it is the "selfish" North American timber industry
that has been the most profound impetus for reforestation and management
projects. In fact, the UN State of the World's Forests Report (2002)
stated that North American forests had increased by ten million hectares
in the last ten years. Such statistics invite the question: why is the
UN attempting to regulate US forestry?

The International Tropical Timber Agreement is not exactly a shining
example of supply-side economics. But now UNCTD officials are planning
to finalize an off-shoot of ITTA by 2005, and this new agreement, a sort
of ITTA2, will place the global body in an even greater position of
international oversight. So far, discussions on ITTA2's role have
included increasing the following: "political attention on forest
governance," "interest in monitoring and regulating the international
trade," and "interest in managing natural forests as ecosystems."

Whatever chance states now have of reclaiming Tenth Amendment rights,
and whatever opportunity timber companies might have to conduct business
according to the American free-market principle, is likely short-lived.
Given the UN's regard for all-things environmental, it can be pretty
much assumed that ITTA2 will favor retention of trees at all costs. And,
should the United States accept this new UN agreement, one could assume
that timber harvesting activities will become nonexistent within our
federal forests, regardless of what emerges from this comment period as
the will of Congress or the people.

Cheryl Chumley is a freelance writer in the Washington, DC area.

19,412 Posts
FUCK THE UN! My views on the UN are well known, and this just goes to prove what a bunch of asses they are. And guess what, if Kerry is elected this will come true. :mad3:

pro web-wheeler
21,640 Posts
Man, I read that twice and am still unsure if this is good or bad...can somebody help me out here...if it is bad, Why? If it is good, Why? Really, I just didn't follow the article as it is written...Can this be summed up in a couple of sentences?

1,115 Posts
bush and congress see the need to manage the forrest better and as part of that they want to return to timber harvest to supply jobs and materials and to thin the forrest of the desease and fuel for fire. the un feels that they know what is best for the world and they feel that they have power over the u s. there is an agreement (treaty) already in existance and the un wants to add language that would allow the un to tell the u s government that they can not sell timber out of the forrest.

Premium Member
1,961 Posts
FUCK THE UN! My views on the UN are well known, and this just goes to prove what a bunch of asses they are. And guess what, if Kerry is elected this will come true.

I with you X 100,000,000,000,000,ECT.

Just a thought
Something tells me that the U.N. is looking to corner the market on lumber by geting the U.S. horse shoed into this re-agrement then any body not signed onto this agrement will have to pay a fee to sell there lumber thus funding the U.N. and we America suffers. something is behind this type of shit and $ seams to be the U.N.'s drive
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