Deforestation in British Columbia

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Gordon River Clearcut in Port Renfrew, BC

Deforestation is the long-term removal of trees from a forested site to permit other site uses such as agriculture, urbanization, transportation and forestry processes.[1] The deforestation in British Columbia has occurred at a heavy rate during periods of the past, but with new sustainable efforts and programs the rate of deforestation is decreasing in the province.

In British Columbia, forests cover over 55 million hectares, which is 57.9% of British Columbia's 95 million hectares of land.[2] The forests are mainly composed (over 80%) of coniferous trees, such as pines, spruces and firs.[3]

Environmental Issues[edit]

Deforestation has negative impacts on British Columbia's environment and diversity even though it is necessary for population expansion and benefits for the Canadian economy.

Carbon emissions and greenhouse gasses[edit]

Carbon emissions from deforestation is an important issue to look at with the increasing problem of global warming. Currently about 4% of B.C.′s total green house gas (GHG) yearly emissions are from deforestation, which is quite a low percent compared to B.C.'s total GHG emissions, and works out to be about 6,200 hectares of forest land is converted to non-forest use per year.[4] The B.C. forest sector has had a large reduction in the amount of GHG from use of fossil fuels used in deforestation, going down from 4 million tons of carbon emissions in 1990 to 1.8 million tons in 2006.[5] The reduction in deforestation B.C. has had over the years has been favourable to the reduction in carbon emissions, as forests clean the by collecting both carbon and pollutants.

Species diversity[edit]

Species diversity is an important ecological part of B.C.'s forests and the act of deforestation can reduce the diversity by taking away crucial environments for both the plant and animal species to live in. There are currently 116 species, which is approximately 10% of species in B.C., that are on the B.C. Conservation Data Centre′s Red List which are endangered species associated with the forest.[6] Deforestation events such as agriculture, introduction of exotic species and timber production threaten the species. After deforestation events, the replanting of trees also had a decrease in diversity of the number of tree species per area due to dominated by single tree species.[7] Currently, changes have been made in replanting strategies by planting different species in one area, which has reduced the problem of dominating species.[8]

Soil composition[edit]

The soil composition is affected by different deforestation processes of removing trees as it changes the soil productivity through compaction or removal. The soil holds more than just the nutrients and plants in the forests, it consists of inorganic material, organic matter, air, water and many micro and macro organisms.[9] The act of deforestation requires the forest sector to build roads, which decrease the productive land base, to be able to access the trees which went down from 4.6% of the area harvest in mid-1990's to 3.5% in 2008.[10] New stricter enforcement of laws regarding soil disturbance has dramatically reduced the degree of soil disturbances to the harvested area from 43 enforcement actions in 1995 to only 3 in 2008.[11] Soil conservation is an important environmental issue to consider as it maintains water quality, ecosystem productivity and future economic benefits.[12]

Water[edit]

Water is an essential part to the ecosystem of forests including the plants and animal species survival, stream, rivers and lakes habitats and also human activities. The act of deforestation can affect the quality of water, quantity of water as well as the aquatic ecosystems located in the forests.[13] When deforestation takes place by the forest sector, the water quality can be affected by sedimentation, pollution and changes in water levels.[14] When roads are put in to cross streams and rivers, 94% of the roads crossings have low to moderate potential to deliver sediment to a stream,[15] When the deforestation takes place near a stream, riparian techniques are used to conserve the tree density around the stream to protect and provide many benefits to the water quality, quantity and stability of the aquatic ecosystem.[16] With 87% of the riparian area within the deforested area being in properly functioning conditions, the forest sector has high conservation efforts to protect the water within forest.[17] The passage of fish species to upstream and downstream habitats can be an essential part of survival and can be affected by deforestation practices, especially the building of roads by forest sector.[18] With only 42% of the road stream crossings having a low affect on the passage of fish species, the remainder of crossings have a high to moderate risk of limiting fish passage.[19] With an increase in stream crossings by roads from 421,830 in 2000 to 488,674 in 2005, a strategic plan is in process to address the fish passage concern.[20]

Zero Net Deforestation Act[edit]

In 2010 the province of British Columbia introduced a new piece of legislature called the Zero Net Deforestation Act, which plans to reduce green house gas emission as well as protect B.C.'s forests.[21] The plan states that an area that is deforested and permanently cleared, an equal amount of trees will be planted for carbon storage and therefore will create a "net zero" effect on deforestation.[22] With the province of British Columbia's target of a 33% decrease in green house emissions by 2020, this act will play a key role in the goal as the great density of forests in B.C. allow for greater absorption and storage of carbon.[23]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Ministry of Forests and Range - Glossary of Forestry Terms in British Columbia (March 2008)". 
  2. ^ "The State of British Columbia's Forests - Third Edition (2010)". p. 36. 
  3. ^ "The State of British Columbia's Forests - Third Edition (2010)". p. 39. 
  4. ^ "The State of British Columbia's Forests - Third Edition (2010)". p. 5. 
  5. ^ "The State of British Columbia's Forests - Third Edition (2010)". p. 10. 
  6. ^ "The State of British Columbia's Forests - Third Edition (2010)". p. 66. 
  7. ^ "The State of British Columbia's Forests - Third Edition (2010)". p. 70. 
  8. ^ "The State of British Columbia's Forests - Third Edition (2010)". p. 71. 
  9. ^ "The State of British Columbia's Forests - Third Edition (2010)". p. 92. 
  10. ^ "The State of British Columbia's Forests - Third Edition (2010)". p. 94. 
  11. ^ "The State of British Columbia's Forests - Third Edition (2010)". p. 95. 
  12. ^ "The State of British Columbia's Forests - Third Edition (2010)". p. 92. 
  13. ^ "The State of British Columbia's Forests - Third Edition (2010)". p. 97. 
  14. ^ "The State of British Columbia's Forests - Third Edition (2010)". p. 97. 
  15. ^ "The State of British Columbia's Forests - Third Edition (2010)". p. 10. 
  16. ^ "The State of British Columbia's Forests - Third Edition (2010)". p. 97. 
  17. ^ "The State of British Columbia's Forests - Third Edition (2010)". p. 10. 
  18. ^ "The State of British Columbia's Forests - Third Edition (2010)". p. 102. 
  19. ^ "The State of British Columbia's Forests - Third Edition (2010)". p. 102. 
  20. ^ "The State of British Columbia's Forests - Third Edition (2010)". p. 103. 
  21. ^ Ministry of Forests and Range news release
  22. ^ Ministry of Forests and Range news release
  23. ^ Ministry of Forests and Range news release