The Tragedy of Industrial Forestry

Clearcut was the first book project conceived, funded, and produced by the Foundation for Deep Ecology. The goal was to create a visually provocative activist tool that exposed the savagery of industrial logging on both public and private lands. With more than a hundred double-page spreads depicting industrial forest carnage from Georgia to Maine and California to Alaska, Clearcut presents a dramatically different view of North America’s forests than coffee table books had presented up to that time. The book invites readers behind the “beauty strips”—those scenic sections of lush forest along roads in the United States and Canada that forestry companies leave intact, to mask the devastation beyond. Clearcut clearly established that rapacious logging was a pressing issue in North America, not just in the Amazon and other parts of the tropics. It presented evidence of an outlaw industry’s ecological crimes in a format widely accessible to activists, policymakers, and the general public. And it put the forest products industry on the defensive: in 1995 the American Forest and Paper Association published a look-alike answer to Clearcut entitled A Closer Look. That book attempted to discredit Clearcut and put forth the preposterous argument that industrial forest practices are beneficial to forests because they mimic natural events, such as wildfires and hurricanes.

Clearcut was the centerpiece of a national outreach and educational campaign, with FDE distributing 12,000 copies at no charge to conservation activists, policymakers, and the media, and making related grants to conservation groups working to reform forest policy.

Contributors: Edited by Bill Devall, photo editor Edgar Boyles; with essays by Reed Noss, Dave Foreman, Chris Maser, Colleen McCrory, Ed Grumbine, Herb Hammond, Mitch Lansky, and others.

Copublished with Sierra Club Books and Earth Island Press, 1994 (first edition, paperback and hardcover), 1995 (second edition paperback).