Fri. Mar 1st, 2024

A practice allows you to maximize tree cutting

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This road in the Klanawa Valley divides two types of landscape: on the right, the logging industry cut down trees; on the left, trees belonging to an ancient forest are still standing, protected by a wildlife protection zone.

Radio-Canada

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Co-location is a practice that allows forestry companies to maximize tree cutting. Legal, it is nevertheless to the detriment of local wildlife, believe environmental defenders.

Will O'Connell, a math and biology teacher, spotted this practice while traveling the winding roads of the Klanawa Valley, located between Bamfield and Port Renfrew in the southwest of the island. from Vancouver. It was there that he noticed the presence of orange ribbons on tree trunks. Slaughter limit, we could read on it.

According to Will O'Connell, the marking was inside an area protected from logging because it is home to the endangered marbled murrelet. Damn, they're going to cut off the marbled murrelet's habitat, the teacher thinks. The latter launches research, contacts provincial officials.

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The cut, ultimately, is not planned, he is assured, but the provincial authorities explain to Will O'Connell the colocation technique used by forestry industries to cut down more trees.

Provincial regulations require forestry companies not to touch 3.5% of the trees present on a cutting plot. This aims to leave, in the middle of areas exploited by the forestry industry, small wooded islands in which animals can hide to escape predators.

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It is with these islands that forestry companies work to maximize cuts. Colocation consists of including them in protected areas. Except that these protected areas were established for reasons other than allowing animals to hide in a space where there are fewer trees. These protected areas aim, for example, to preserve the habitat of the marbled murrelet.

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Thus, the 3.5% of trees that should have remained on a cutting plot are in some way transferred elsewhere, to a protected area, often adjacent. The plot of trees whose felling is authorized can then be cut down entirely, without leaving islands for animals.

The practice, even if it is legal, goes down badly with ecologists and forestry experts. They believe it is used by logging companies to reclaim spaces where there are larger trees, when flora and fauna need them most.

In addition to further exposing wildlife to predators, complete felling of plots also has consequences on the flow of rainwater. When there are no more trees on the hills, when it rains, all the mud will be washed into the river, notes Karen Price, an independent ecologist. The resulting sedimentation in rivers has already harmed salmon populations in the region.

The plots, in this case, are located on the traditional territory of the Huu-ay-aht First Nation. Western Forest Products holds the logging license. The company was purchased in 2019 by the Huu-ay-aht. Two years later, they established C̕awak ʔqin, a forestry company owned 65% by Western Forest Products and 35% by the Huu-ay-aht.

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When the plots are completely deforested, a large part of the carbon that was stored is lost to the atmosphere.

Partnering with the Huu-ay-aht is at the heart of C̕awak ʔqin's approach to forestry, says Board Chair Seanna McConnell of the company and vice president of indigenous partnerships with Western Forest Products.

Asked if the company will continue to use co-location to maximize the amount of timber harvested, Seanna McConnell does not answer directly, but says the company is working on a land use plan. with the First Nations.

Emchayiik, a member of the Huu-ay-aht First Nation, believes that those who are concerned about the cutting of trees in the region must respect the right of its people to use and benefit from the resources of their traditional territory.

Let us make decisions about our territory. I am not disrespecting city dwellers by going into their community and saying, ''This is how you should manage your garden.''.

A quote from Emchayiik, member of the Huu-ay-aht First Nation

On the provincial government side, things seem to be moving. In 2020, a landmark report from the province's Old Growth Strategic Review panel recommended a fundamental shift in priorities, placing ecosystem health and biodiversity, rather than maximizing timber harvests, as the top priority for forest management. British Columbia.

Re-elected in 2020 at the head of the provincial government, the NDP promised during the electoral campaign to implement the 14 recommendations of the group of experts. But the exploitation of ancient forests continues, as does the decades-old practice of co-location.

Contacted, the Minister of BC Forests says it is making progress in implementing the new vision by deferring or protecting logging on 2.4 million hectares of old-growth forests.

He says he is also working on long-term forest landscape plans in consultation with First Nations, industry and local communities, nine of which have been announced so far. now.

In the meantime, more logging is planned in the Klanawa Valley, according to Seanna McConnell.

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