Logging practices increase risk of climate change disasters in B.C.: reportSierra Club BC calls for forestry reforms and inclusion of Indigenous expertise to mitigate climate disaster risks
Binny Paul, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter.
• Feb. 1, 2021 2:30 p.m.
A new report published on Monday, called on B.C. to immediately reform its forestry practices, saying industrial logging is accelerating climate change-related issues across the province.
The report authored by Dr. Peter Wood and commissioned by Sierra Club B.C. says the provincial government can mitigate climate related disasters like flooding, droughts, fires and heatwaves by “swiftly” reforming the province’s forestry practices, applying Indigenous expertise and knowledge and protecting and restoring intact forests.
The report – Intact Forests, Safe Communities – found that logging has a “significant impact on the severity and frequency of climate risks” for communities in B.C.
“The science is clear that clearcutting increases the frequency and intensity of forest fires. We also know it increases both the risk of flooding and periods of drought, as well as erosion and slope instability, which increase the likelihood of landslides,” said Wood, in a statement.
The report also says that the province’s 2019 Preliminary Strategic Climate Risk Assessment did not take into account that logging worsens climate risks. This presents “a major blind spot that could undermine the effectiveness of the province’s response to global heating.”
Sierra Club BC’s report claims that out of the 15 climate risks identified in the 2019 assessment, a majority are influenced by logging.
The Mirror has reached out to the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy for a response.
To avoid climate catastrophes the report calls on the government to implement all of the 14 recommendations from the 2020 Old Growth Strategic Review.
Last year the province commissioned the strategic review in a bid to transition towards sustainable forestry practices. One of the recommendations was to work together on forest management with First Nations.
The report emphasizes that the province must work with Indigenous decision-makers to incorporate their perspectives , cultural values and knowledge into forest management to mitigate climate risks.
Grand Chief Stewart Philip, President of the Union of BC Indian chiefs said since many First Nations have limited capacity and resources to respond to climate disasters, there’s bound to be devastating repercussions for vulnerable and marginalized people in the event of a climate crisis.
Philips called on the province to include Indigenous people to help guide B.C.’s transition to more sustainable and conservation-based practices.
Dr. Judith Sayers, President of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council said that the report reflects what First Nations have “always known” – that the provincial government must change their forest management approach immediately.
“First Nations have long been lobbying the B.C. government to recognize their right to manage the forest in their territories and to protect their sacred sites, old-growth ecosystems that support medicinal plants, and habitat for wildlife and birds. Through management of their forests, they would keep healthy forests with high environmental standards,” said Sayers in the statement.