By Andru McCracken
Maps of Canfor’s plans to aerially spray the herbicide glyphosate were leaked to an anti-spraying advocate earlier in the summer, and they appeared to show spraying directly adjacent to the Ancient Forest/Chun T’oh Whudujut.
Michelle Ward, Canfor Senior Director, Communications & Government Relations said that’s not the case.
“Canfor does not have any spraying activities planned adjacent to the Ancient Forest this year,” she said in an email response.
It’s unclear if the company plans to spray the block in following years.
Another company, Carrier Lumber, the major forest licensee in the Robson Valley, has stopped using the herbicide glyphosate in recently logged areas in part thanks to local pressure. Canfor continues the practice in it’s operational areas across much of the province including west of the Robson Valley.
James Steidle, the founder of Stop The Spray BC, received maps of spraying from an undisclosed source showing more than 60 blocks scheduled to be sprayed with glyphosate in the region.
“It’s been documented to drift 400m and they can spray up to 10m to a fish bearing waterway,” said Steidle.
Steidle is an advocate for broadleaf regeneration that happens naturally after a cut block is logged because of its value for wildlife and its ability to reduce the forest fire risk as the stand ages.
“There is no good reason we’re doing this. Continuing this practice is incredibly risky and ignorant policy, ignorant of the higher risk of fire and climate change,” he said.
Steidle quoted a recent paper from the University of Alberta that shows that three times as much forest is being burned as is being logged, in part because of requirements to replant conifers that are of value to forest companies and the province.
He believes deciduous stands help lower the risk of wildfire spread and actually work in favour of forest companies by ensuring they don’t burn.
University of Alberta professor Victor Leiffers presented his paper on the subject in November at the 12th North American Forest Ecology Workshop Flagstaff, Arizona.
“Wildfires have disturbed areas three times larger than the scale of logging activity, and increased drought has caused widespread tree mortality and growth reduction, especially in drought-prone western Canada,” writes Leiffers. “In this concept paper, we ask why such disturbances are not a priority in the planning of the timber supply of the forests in western Canada given their highly destructive nature and potential to disrupt forest management plans.”
Good news locally
The Valemount Community Forest is seeking permission to restock a particularly fire-susceptible block between the railway and Blackman Road with aspen, thanks to the trees’ fire resistance.
Carrier Lumber Ltd temporarily stopped using glyphosate to meet provincial restocking standards in July 2019. Their CEO Bill Kordyban said they would stop using glyphosate for three years in the Robson Valley Timber Supply Area.
“During this time, limited, targeted manual application of herbicide will be used, but only where necessary for the control of herbaceous and broadleaf vegetation complexes,” he said.
“Manual brushing will be the preferred means of treatment to meet our contractual obligations with government.”
At the time Kordyban asked the community for help to convince the Province this was a good move.
“It would be appreciated if you could advocate to the government to allow for more natural ingress of broadleaf species in our silviculture stocking standards,” he said.
The Rocky Mountain Goat News is unaware of any follow up from the community. If provincial restocking standards don’t change, Carrier could be forced to restart an aerial spraying program to meet provincial requirements.
Like it? You pay for it
Steidle said most residents don’t understand that the public is subsidizing the spraying.
“It is built into the stumpage calculation [the value that companies pay the province for the value of the wood],” he said. “Every year these companies write a report on how much they spend on silviculture, and they will use that to figure out how much to reduce the stumpage by.”