LETTER: Build a working forest in B.C.

LETTERS

The forestry issue has been a flashpoint issue in British Columbia for decades and the War in the Woods has been heating up with recent blockades around Port Renfrew. While I have no problem calling out the forest industry when there are real concerns, the claims by the environmental movement that the last old growth is being logged are simply incorrect.

Rather than cutting to the last old tree, British Columbia has made immense progress in the protection of biodiversity and old growth since the early 1990s. For example, most of the coastal old growth is either protected or unloggable. There are four million hectares of old growth on the coast of which only 1 million hectares are available for logging, including large areas of large trees suitable for old growth dependent species that need large trees. Far from disappearing, the area covered by old growth (older than 250 years) will increase slightly over coming decades and be about 75% larger by 2250.

I believe there are better options than suddenly stopping old growth logging which would devastate the coastal forest products industry for a relatively small gain in biodiversity. Some more protected areas make sense for certain ecosystems, but the broad-brush approach of ending all old growth logging advocated by some preservationist groups is ill-advised. Wood products provide a low-carbon source of materials and energy which is important to meeting climate action goals. Using wood over alternatives saves considerable amount of carbon dioxide from reduced manufacturing and some carbon storage which means protecting old growth is not a particularly effective way to address to climate change.

Forests are important for many values but it is also important that there is some land where wood production is emphasized and legally protected. Such a Working Forest land base would facilitate investments in growing trees that will allow a smaller area to produce more wood, allowing conservation of other areas without significant negative economic impact.

Thomas Cheney