Old Laws + Complicit Industry = Deforestation
Based in Nelson British Columbia, we are at the heart of one of the last remaining inland temperate rainforests in the world. Home to stands of Old Growth trees at over 250 years of age, our forests are increasingly at risk. Our forest ecosystems are being threatened by industrial plantation logging practices based on 20+ year old legislation that pre-dates climate change awareness. Forestry in BC means that over 90% of our logs are exported and a declining 1% of our population is employed in forestry in highly unionized, low paying short-term dangerous jobs.
Clearcutting B.C. forests contributing more to climate change than fossil fuels. Sierra Club BC found 3.6 million hectares of forest were clearcut across B.C. between 2005 and 2017 — an area larger than the size of Vancouver Island. Those areas are considered “sequestration dead zones” for 13 years after they’re clearcut. That means until newly-planted trees grow and mature, the areas release more carbon into the atmosphere from decomposing matter and soil than those young trees can capture and absorb.
BC Laws Are Sooo Old – How Old Are They?
- B.C. Forest Range & Practices Act – Written in 2002
- B.C. Forest Act – Written in 1996
What is legal?
- Clearcutting forests to the ground increasing flood/mudslide risk
- Burning wet slash piles polluting our troposphere (the lowest layer of air we breathe)
- Forest companies hire their own environment consultants
- Buying private landing and clearcutting it for profit
In fact forestry in BC actually costs taxpayers over $300 million per year. Heavy duty machinery that compacts soil preventing regrowth and increasing peak run-off flows and erosion. Feller-bunchers run by contractors replace up to 10 workers on average. Despite watersheds historically being protected from logging since the early 1900s, in the last few decades they are now targeted as easily accessible “low hanging fruit” for logging companies. Increased road building in our valleys and high alpine has cause increased sedimentation and landslides in creeks and town such as happened in Grand Forks, BC.. These roads also upset the balance between predators and herds of elk and now almost extinct woodland caribou. Industrial plantations weaken the mix of coniferous and deciduous trees species necessary to ward off forest fires.
Despite species extinction, declining water quality and flows in our watersheds, industrial logging companies continue to be complicit with outdated legislation. The Professional Reliance legislation means that timber sales companies can hire their own experts, such as hydrologists, to tell them what they want to hear. Local logging operations are now resorting to Disaster Capitalism by misleading water license owners that logging in watersheds will decrease wildfire risk. The exact opposite is scientifically proven to be true when they remove the canopy, increase UV radiation, create tinder dry slash piles and dry out the soil. Regrowth and planting is no longer possible with essential “dead soil” and humus.
Scientists with PhD’s in forestry such as Peter Wood have written about how industrial logging in watersheds actually increase fire risk, vs reduce it as industry claims. In his report “Intact Forests, Safe Communities”“, he found that industrial logging has a significant impact on the severity and frequency of climate risks for B.C. communities. Of the 15 climate risks identified in B.C.’s 2019 Strategic Climate Risk Assessment, the majority are influenced by logging. The B.C. Climate Risk Assessment outlined how several of these risks have the potential to create catastrophic impacts, many of which are risks to community watersheds.
Mammals and rodents that used to distribute seeds in their feces and on their fur to diversify the forest mix with non-flammable deciduous trees are now gone. There are currently over 1,900 species at risk in B.C. and climbing. From monarch butterflys, painted turtles and tiger-snails the list keeps growing. Species at risk include mammals such as the woodland caribou, northern fur seal, pacific water shrew, townsend’s mole, american badger, and amphibians such as the red-legged Frog and the oregon spotted frog. They also include plants such as the phantom orchid, pink sand-verbena, and showy plox. Many other large mammals including grizzly bears are listed as a species of ‘Special Concern’ under federal legislation.
Employment in this declining industry now consists of low paying unionized mills and health and safety hazards. Despite attempts to use “scrubbers” in mills, long term illnesses such as lung cancer from fine particulate wood dust (cedar especially) will not show up often until retirement. According to BC government statistics, 50% of logging truck drivers are obese, and 60% are smokers, with average shifts being 13 hours which far exceeds safety standards. These long shifts not only endanger workers but also the general public as many truck and falling accidents result in fatalities.
Canopy is aiming to fund the conservation of forests and environments at risk. Each year, we will invest in registered non-profit environmental causes that make British Columbia a better place to live for our kids.
Chris Charlwood – Founder, Canopy Crypto & NFTs
Organizations We Like