TORONTO – The logging industry and old-growth deforestation are contributing factors to the severity of BC’s flood crisis, says a conservationist and forest management expert.
Experts have long warned that uprooting logging has major impacts on the environment around it, including the stability of slopes, the rate at which water is absorbed into the ground and the disruption of root systems. vast hold the land in place. Without forests, heavy rains can wash silt into water systems, choking them and causing them to overflow rapidly, leading to flooding.
Peter Wood, conservationist and forest management expert with Canopy Planet, told CTV’s Your Morning Monday that there’s no denying a link between the logging industry and what’s going on in the province.
“Healthy mature forests with rich and well-developed canopy act like a giant sponge, absorbing and releasing water slowly – kind of ‘everything in moderation'” says Wood. “The root structures that hold the soil in the slopes, they’ve been developed for thousands of years.”
Wood says logging has been shown to have serious environmental impacts, such as landslides caused by logging and road work on steep slopes, as well as impacts on levels watersheds of the province, where the logging industry impedes the ability of forests to regulate the flow of water.
“It is intuitive when you remove tree cover, especially on steep slopes, it increases the rate at which water flows into the creeks without the root structure leading to erosion,” says Wood. “That’s exactly what the science confirms.”
Wood referenced a recent University of British Columbia study that found that logging can lead to a fourfold increase in the frequency of major floods.
Wood is the author of a recent report conducted in partnership with Sierra Club BC on the relationship between forest management and severe climate impacts titled “Intact Forests, Safe Communities.” .
Realizing that the province can mitigate climate disasters such as floods, droughts and fires by reforming the logging industry, applying indigenous knowledge to decisions regarding forests, and protecting and restore the remaining intact forests in the province.
The report says that of the 15 climate risks identified in BC’s Strategic Climate Risk Assessment in 2019, the majority were affected by logging, but this assessment did not consider logging. how climate risks worsen – what the report refers to as a “major blind spot.”
Timber production and the logging industry are the mainstay of BC’s economy, with one of its largest exports being wood and paper products. The province’s current law allows a special rate to cut down old-growth forests.
Provincial data indicates that around 447,000 acres of forest are harvested annually, 70% of which comes from BC Home Affairs. A 2017 analysis by Sierra Club BC found that 10,000 hectares of old-growth forest was cleared in a single year on Vancouver Island.
This is not the first time that the logging and forestry sectors have been identified as major contributors to flood disasters.
Residents of Grand Forks, BC, a community about 520 kilometers east of Vancouver, brought a proposed class action suit in the BC Supreme Court last year alleging mismanagement of the forestry industry. Careless farming and logging caused the terrible flooding that residents experienced in 2018.
“It’s really a matter of preference, we really need a paradigm shift where we put the safety of the community first and then see what kind of wood can be had after that, “Wood talks about much-needed logging reform.
“We really need to focus on the health of the forest and our real long-term vision instead of these very ‘short-term’ wood goals,” he continued. “We have the opportunity here to protect the few remaining intact forests we have, restore the rest [and] manage that in a sustainable way. ”
Wood reiterated in his report that Indigenous knowledge is paramount in restoring First Nations forests and communities that are often on the front lines of extreme weather events caused by climate change. caused by climate change.
“The climate crisis impacts us all, but it has particularly dire consequences for the vulnerable and marginalized, including First Nations across the province, many of whom are have limited capacity and resources to respond to climate disasters, and their territories are high-risk areas that corporations and governments seek to thrive,” said Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Alliance the BC Indian chiefs said in a bulletin for Wood’s report.
Nine First Nation communities are currently under evacuation orders in BC, with 41 communities affected overall. On Sunday, members of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) arrived in some of the more isolated communities.
Defense Secretary Anita Anand said that the CAF has been delivering supplies, including 3,000 pounds of food, to Nooaitch First Nation communities near Merritt.
CAF has raced to fill sandbags to support Chawathil First Nation on the traditional land of the Stah: lo in Fraser Canyon, which is expecting more rain.
There are now more than 500 troops on the ground in BC supporting recovery efforts.
Wood’s insight into how the province and country can slow the impacts of climate change related to the logging and forestry industries as a second “atmospheric river” is expected to make landfall into BC, this time along the north coast.
Environment Canada warned of hazardous winter conditions in an update Sunday morning, which included heavy snowfall in inland parts of the region.
Snow is expected to turn into heavy rain as temperatures rise, possibly leading to more flooding or landslides due to the melting snow and ice.
with files from CTV News Vancouver and writer Alexandra Mae Jones of CTVNews.ca