I would like to bolster the suggestion in my Op-Ed from Feb 25, that our old growth forest be protected by partially quoting from a letter to the Haida Gwaii Management Council in January of last year, from Suzane Simard, noted UBC forest ecology researcher and Theresa Ryan, also of UBC. (There are multiple Youtube videos and a celebrated TED talk from Ms. Simard describing mycorrhizal fungi networking with trees), regarding the Haida Gwaii TSR (Timber Supply Review):
Loss of carbon stocks and climate change:
“British Columbia has committed to a 40% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2030 and 80% by 2050 as part of Canada’s commitment to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. So far, however, we are moving in the opposite direction, with our emissions increasing annually, and more coming from forestry than all other sectors combined. In 2017, BC reported that annual emissions from fossil fuels had increased to 65 million tonnes of C [carbon]. By comparison, 2017 emissions from logging (removal of trees and woody debris, plus accelerated decomposition of forest floor and soil) were estimated as 42 million tonnes C [carbon], and foregone carbon capture an additional 26.5 million tonnes C [carbon], for a total of 68.5 million tonnes C [carbon] added to the atmosphere annually from forestry practices alone. This has skyrocketed to 203 million tonnes carbon with wildfires in recent years. While drastically reducing fossil fuel emissions to decarbonize the energy sector is essential, Canada cannot meet its commitments for carbon emission reductions without the provinces protecting carbon stocks in existing forests, or increasing sequestration capacity of managed forests.
“While emissions from forestry are not included in official carbon budgets, there is sufficient science for us to know that ignoring them is abrogating our responsibility to current and future generations. Missing our targets are already starting to destabilize the Earth’s climate, terrestrial, and aquatic systems, and continuing to do so will quickly have catastrophic consequences for biodiversity, ecosystem services, and humans. Effective forest management has an essential role in helping meet global targets, especially where large existing carbon stocks can be protected through forest preservation, and carbon sequestration can be increased through sustainable forest management, particularly in high density carbon ecosystems such as Haida Gwaii. Scientists estimate that forest preservation, reduced logging and improved management of second growth forests could provide 37% of the mitigation needed to stabilize global warming below 2 degrees C by 2039”
While Ms. Simard was specifically speaking about Haida Gwaii forests, she could have as easily been describing our interior cedar-hemlock forests- the inland rainforest that surrounds our communities. My apologies for not including her entire letter or her many footnotes, but I believe the newspaper can only afford so much space for the ramblings of an old tree hugger (me—not her). I also apologize for the technical nature of the quote, but the gist is that there is a lot of carbon in those old forests that has a more important role for us than producing consumable products.
I urge readers to check out her TED Talk, “How Trees Talk to Each Other.” It borders on magic, but is scientifically proven: tinyurl.com/7j6vse9k
Roy Howard, Fraser Headwaters Alliance