A Case Against Old Growth Logging
Updated: Aug 2, 2022
by Glynne August 8, 2022
The following is what I consider to be the most relevant and shocking reality of the BC logging situation in this rapidly disintegrating apology for a bounteous natural habitat.
Old-growth forests provide immeasurable benefits, including the most carbon sequestration, both accumulating and historical, plus rich biodiversity, culture, recreation, education, food, new pharmaceuticals, and opportunities for science to develop our knowledge of ecosystem checks and balances.
It cannot be matched by second growth and monoculture stands where mycorrhizal interactions are not as rich.
Valley-bottom high productivity old-growth ecosystems in British Columbia are endangered. For example: Mature aspen and mixed forest in the north of our province is being pelletized for export to heat U.K. homes. This was just approved last year by our government. What, then, is “worth more standing” than anything at all? For a few hundred jobs that could have been multiplied several times over to at least make higher use of much less wood, while preserving much of it to retain its carbon. (The hasty stupidity of this rivals that of the fracked gas and Site C for ill thought out monuments to taxpayers’ money being wasted. Ask, and I’ll explain.)
When burned, wood emits more greenhouse gases and respiratory harmful particulates than diesel per unit of heat.
Of the remaining 2.7% of original high productivity old-growth forests in British Columbia, 75% are still slated to be logged; This is what the logging companies value most. If they had to log the smaller stuff, they might have to really modernize their mills as has been done elsewhere.
Only 9% of the original 360,000 hectares of valley-bottom high productivity old-growth on Vancouver Island remain today, and only 2.6% of those forests are protected in parks; This is truly pathetic, and we must find ways as producers and consumers to be more efficient. Just as in parts of Europe, we need to learn to destroy less and use less of everything. Only government can initiate this in an enforceable and effective way. It needs to be done NOW.
The last unprotected intact old-growth valley on Southern Vancouver Island, Fairy Creek, is slated for logging, along with the upper Walbran Valley and other remaining pockets of old growth. Across BC, hiding the clear cuts from the road for the tourists and residents is becoming more and more difficult. But that is a minor problem compared with what it is doing to warm our atmosphere. New studies are indicating that the Canadian boreal forest sequesters significantly more carbon per hectare than the Amazon, though orders less than wetlands.
Most Canadians support sustainable harvesting of second and third growth forests, but do not support logging old-growth trees or destroying their surrounding ecosystems. It has long been the case that governments are laggards rather than leaders compared with their electors. We currently have those in power protecting the status quo for the benefit of the few and well to do. Tommy Douglass would be rolling in his grave, and Dave Barrett would be ashamed of this government
Indigenous peoples have rights and title to their traditional territories and have been stewards of these lands since time immemorial. Those who have started thinking like settlers have, in some cases, likely done so much more damage than the original settlers by lacking to provide reasonable alternatives to old growth logging. After so much destruction of indigenous people's hunting grounds and their other ecological assets, rather than by acculturation, pure and simple, some of us continue to harm indigenous peoples through our continued suicidal ethos. We signed on to UNDRIP. Let’s try harder to honour that rather than making a mockery of it. The means enabling wider options rather than confining ourselves to within the framework of settler laws and perceptions.
The climate crisis requires action by all levels of industry and government, including this one. The “After you, Alphonse,” displayed on climate is not going to further economic advantage, local health, or happiness. Instead, it will result in wider,more extensive and expiditious death and debility, both mental and physical (let alone recrimination and the breakdown of social order).
I fervently hope you will be a leader in pivoting our Province to a bold attempt to slow and reduce the ever increasing harmful conditions we will face, rather than merely introducing short-lived bandaid adaptation attempts, which often cause repeated increases in green house gases.