B.C. opens Sunshine Coast forest — home to some of Canada’s oldest trees — to logging

B.C. opens Sunshine Coast forest — home to some of Canada’s oldest trees — to logging

SOURCE: The Narwhal DATE: June 5, 2020 SNIP: A new plan plotting the course of the logging industry on B.C.’s Sunshine Coast over the next five years has placed a treasured forest, home to some of Canada’s oldest trees and an unofficial bear sanctuary, on the chopping block. The logging plan for the Elphinstone area, released by BC Timber Sales in late March, includes an abnormally high number of cutblocks for auction for the planning period, according to local conservation group Elphinstone Logging Focus. “We haven’t seen this many blocks in a five-year period before,” said Ross Muirhead, a forest campaigner with Elphinstone Logging Focus, which counted an unprecedented 29 blocks slated for clearcut logging from 2020 to 2024. Because of the area’s sensitivity, BC Timber Sales has usually limited logging to about one block a year. Muirhead is calling on the B.C. government to cancel 63 hectares of cutblocks slated for auction on Dakota Ridge, a roadless high-altitude forest west of Port Mellon, where he believes Canada’s oldest tree may be located. Some of the oldest trees in Canada grow in the 3,361-hectare Dakota watershed, with tree coring showing one yellow cedar is 1,036 years old, Muirhead said. Last fall in the Dakota area, Muirhead and his colleagues measured a tree that was too big to be cored because boring instruments aren’t made long enough. “This tree is wider than the oldest recorded tree in Canada,” Muirhead said. Elphinstone Logging Focus unofficially named the forest on Dakota Ridge the Dakota bowl bear sanctuary after the first black bear den study on the Sunshine Coast, in 2015, found an...
Football pitch-sized area of tropical rainforest lost every six seconds

Football pitch-sized area of tropical rainforest lost every six seconds

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: June 2, 2020 SNIP: The amount of pristine tropical rainforest lost across the globe increased last year, as the equivalent of a football pitch disappeared every six seconds, a satellite-based analysis has found. Nearly 12m hectares of tree cover was lost across the tropics, including nearly 4m hectares of dense, old rainforest that held significant stores of carbon and had been home to a vast array of wildlife, according to data from the University of Maryland. Beyond the tropics, Australia’s devastating bushfires led to a sixfold increase in tree cover loss across the continent in 2019 compared with the previous year. Rod Taylor, from the World Resources Institute, part of the Global Forest Watch network that released the analysis, said as the unprecedented fires continued into 2020, this was only a partial picture of the area affected in the southern fire season. While Australia’s eucalyptus trees are generally well adapted to respond to fire, Taylor said this year’s blazes burned more intensely, having followed a severe drought, and spread rapidly due to high winds. The fires killed 33 people directly, an estimated 445 more through smoke inhalation, and hundreds of millions of animals. “Whereas a normal fire might char the bark of a tree, this year’s fires turned many trees into charcoal sticks,” Taylor said. “Australia can expect more extreme fire seasons as fire risk increases due to climate change.” The loss of trees in the tropics was the third worst recorded since data was first collected in 2002, trailing behind only 2016 and 2017. The heaviest reduction continues to be in Brazil, which accounted...
With world distracted, the Amazon rainforest continues to burn

With world distracted, the Amazon rainforest continues to burn

SOURCE: South China Morning Post DATE: May 9, 2020 SNIP: It has not got much attention with the world focused on coronavirus, but deforestation has surged in the Amazon rainforest this year, raising fears of a repeat of last year’s record-breaking devastation – or worse. Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon hit a new high in the first four months of the year, according to data released Friday by Brazil’s National Space Research Institute (INPE), which uses satellite images to track the destruction. A total of 1,202 square kilometres of forest – an area more than 20 times the size of Manhattan – was wiped out in the Brazilian Amazon from January to April, it found. That was a 55 per cent increase from the same period last year, and the highest figure for the first four months of the year since monthly records began in August 2015. The numbers raise new questions about how well Brazil is protecting its share of the world’s biggest rainforest under President Jair Bolsonaro, a far-right climate change sceptic who advocates opening protected lands to mining and farming. “Unfortunately, it looks like what we can expect for this year are more record-breaking fires and deforestation,” Greenpeace campaigner Romulo Batista said in a statement. Last year, in Bolsonaro’s first year in office, deforestation soared 85 per cent in the Brazilian Amazon, to 10,123 square kilometres of forest. The trend so far in 2020 is all the more worrying given that the usual high season for deforestation only starts in late...
‘Blatant manipulation’: Trump administration exploited wildfire science to promote logging

‘Blatant manipulation’: Trump administration exploited wildfire science to promote logging

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: January 24, 2020 SNIP: Political appointees at the interior department have sought to play up climate pollution from California wildfires while downplaying emissions from fossil fuels as a way of promoting more logging in the nation’s forests, internal emails obtained by the Guardian reveal. The messaging plan was crafted in support of Donald Trump’s pro-industry arguments for harvesting more timber in California, which he says would thin forests and prevent fires – a point experts refute. The emails show officials seeking to estimate the carbon emissions from devastating 2018 fires in California so they could compare them to the carbon footprint of the state’s electricity sector and then publish statements encouraging cutting down trees. The records offer a look behind the scenes at how Trump and his appointees have tried to craft a narrative that forest protection efforts are responsible for wildfires, including in California, even as science shows fires are becoming more intense largely because of climate change. James Reilly, a former petroleum geologist and astronaut who is the director of the US Geological Survey, in a series of emails in 2018 asked scientists to “gin up” emissions figures for him. He also said the numbers would make a “decent sound bite”, and acknowledged that wildfire emissions estimates could vary based on what kind of trees were burning but picked the ones that he said would make “a good story”. Scientists who reviewed the exchanges said that at best Reilly used unfortunate language and the department cherry-picked data to help achieve their pro-industry policy goals; at worst he and others exploited a disaster and...
Regrowth of Logged Amazon Forests is Much Slower than Previously Thought

Regrowth of Logged Amazon Forests is Much Slower than Previously Thought

SOURCE: Yale e360 DATE: December 30, 2019 SNIP: As deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon soars under President Jair Bolsonaro, a new study warns that the regrowth of logged Amazon forests, and the amount of CO2 they store, is far less than previously believed. The study, published in the journal Ecology, said that after 60 years of regrowth, the secondary Amazon forests studied by researchers stored only 40 percent as much carbon as undisturbed woodlands and had only half as much biodiversity. The study — conducted by scientists at the Federal University of Pará, the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation, and Lancaster University in the United Kingdom — also showed that secondary forests absorbed less carbon dioxide during droughts than undisturbed forests. The scientists said it could take more than a century for the logged Amazon forests to begin sequestering as much CO2 as untouched forests and that the ability of these disturbed forests to store carbon dioxide may have been greatly overestimated. “We must be cautious about the ability of secondary forests to mitigate climate change,” said lead researcher Fernando Elias. The study underscores a growing consensus among forestry experts and climate scientists of the key role that preserving intact forests can play in the fight to slow global...