Environmental superstition

The article ``An Environmental Test Case,'' July 26, which reviews Stone Container's Costa Rican chip mill project, gives a nice profile of the burden of superstition that a forest-products manufacturer must overcome in undertaking a project clearly in the public interest.

One must read this piece very carefully to understand that this project results in absolutely no clearing of rain forest, but actual recovery of agricultural land for forestry (which means, over the course of a rotation, building topsoil). The article invites the inference that a gmelina plantation is a sterile waste with no habitat value; in fact, once the forest crown opens, it invites a vigorous native understory. We are left with the allegation that ``noise and pollution will disturb the wildlife'' and must ask, what quantifiable impact data will ever satisfy an environmental organization? Neil Ward, Washington

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