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  • Busting myths created by BC's logging industry

    If you have heard something about BC’s forest industry in the media that you think is doubtful, including what you read on this website, please let us know and we’ll fact-check that piece of information.

  • Fact-Checker

    Evergreen Alliance Staff
    In the press release below, the Wood Pellet Association of Canada claims that, along with “sawmill and harvest residuals” only “low-quality logs” are being used to make pellets. What are the facts?
    September 20, 2022 – Vancouver, British Columbia – A new study confirms that wood pellets in British Columbia are sourced entirely from sawmill and harvest residuals or from low-quality logs and bush grind rejected by other industries.
    The study was commissioned by the Wood Pellet Association of Canada. Respected forest experts and Registered Professional Foresters, Professor Gary Bull, Dr. Jeremy Williams, Dr. Jim Thrower and Mr. Brad Bennett analyzed government and industry databases, confidential commercial data, and audit reports and conducted personal interviews with individual pellet plant operators and local communities.
    “We reviewed the data for virtually every truckload of fibre for each pellet mill in the province and were able to source forest-based residuals down to the forest harvesting block for each mill,” said Bull. “The findings were clear: 85 per cent of the fibre for pellets comes from the by-products of the sawmills and allied industries, and the remaining 15 per cent comes from bush grind and low-quality logs where the only other option is to burn the low-grade logs and brush piles on site in order to reduce fire risk.”
    In addition, almost all the pellets produced in B.C. are certified under the international recognized Sustainable Biomass Program and the fibre is from sustainably managed forests in B.C. certified under the Canadian Standards Association, the Forest Stewardship Council or the Sustainable Forestry Initiative.
    “The notion of harvesting whole stands of timber or displacing higher value forest products for the purpose of producing wood pellets is counter to the overall economic and environmental objectives of using wood pellets,” added Thrower.
    The study also concludes the B.C.  pellet sector:
    Utilizes and creates value from the mill residuals;
    Works with Indigenous and other communities to improve forest health, support local economies, and strengthen community resiliency;
    Creates an additional revenue stream for sawmills and other facilities;
    Eliminates smoke and particulate emissions associated with beehive burners or landfills;
    Utilizes low quality biomass that comes from natural disturbances;
    Creates viable economic opportunities and employment;
    Contributes to managing wildfire risks; and
    Increases the substitution of renewable energy (biomass) for fossil fuel (coal).
    Around three quarters of the world’s renewable energy is from biomass.  Bioenergy accounts for about 10 per cent of total final energy consumption and two per cent of global electricity generation.  In the United States and the European Union, bioenergy accounts for 60 per cent of all renewable energy. In fact, over the past 20 years, bioenergy  is responsible for the most greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions, much in the form of bioheat, which has a 90 per cent share of the EU renewable heating market.
    “Today our sector is taking what was once considered waste and instead is enhancing forest health, creating jobs, and reducing wildfire risk and GHG emissions from slash burning,” said WPAC Executive Director Gordon Murray.  “British Columbia wood pellets are a vital solution in the global fight against climate change by replacing fossil fuels like coal and providing a gateway to the bioeconomy.”
    The study also looked at the impact of pellets in both the broader forest sector and in communities like Burns Lake where the pellet plant has played an important role in addressing the mountain pine beetle epidemic, providing an outlet for local sawmills and low-quality roundwood and strengthening the local economy.
    “As a community forest that surrounds much of the community’s recreational playground, if we didn’t practice complete utilization we would hear about it in town from the public,” said General Manager Frank Varga, Burns Lake Community Forest. The Community Forest is owned by the Village of Burns Lake which equally shares its revenue with the Tsi’lKazKoh and Wet’suwet’en First Nations communities. “Without the Burns Lake Drax facility, we wouldn’t have a home for a significant component of our low-grade harvesting profile and the level of waste would not be socially acceptable.”

    Taryn Skalbania
    BCTS planning forester, Chomitz goes on to explain how the proposed salvage operation will “make the Wiseman and Sicamous Creek watershed more resilient.” This includes the deactivating and rehabilitation of historic trails and roads in the vicinity and the replanting of trees as quickly as possible.
    “The fire has created an abundance of trees that are susceptible to the Douglas Fir bark beetle, which is likely to cause an increase in the beetle population in the area,” said Chomitz, noting this will add to the hydrologic issues in the watershed.
    “I acknowledge the importance of protecting the safety of those in your community,” said Chomitz, adding BCTS values input from the CSRD to ensure management of the watersheds “is done with the best interest of the community safety and forest ecosystem in mind.”
    Will Hydrologists argree with this RPFs interpretation?

    Taryn Skalbania
    The Truck Loggers' Association (TLA) is paying for billboards across BC to share their version of forestry facts in BC Each one starts with "TRUTH", as if it is trying to convince its members.  So diluted and confusing are its messages and data, i hope someone can take the time and make sense of this: can we post the real numbers?
    https://www.tla.ca/forestry-truth/?fbclid=IwAR0WvyMAjmeVbbqMrztT9kuT4T6bXmNljw85AHuGZNWv83HcZETZUCJvDdo#:~:text=British Columbia leads the world,Columbia's total area is harvested
    TLA could be ''sued'' for false advertisement ! This sign on Pat bay highway being a good example of false advertising. 
    Don't advertisements have to be true? We could launch complaints...I suppose the TLA is including parks as OG protected areas.  Someone suggested a complaint to Ad Standards as a first step Then an email to Coast Outdoor,  with an image of the sign, letting them know it is an unverifiable statement, and Ad Standards have been contacted .

    David Broadland
    The following opinion piece was written by Lori Daniels and Robert Gray, two well known BC experts on forest fires, and was published in the Times Colonist on February 4, 2022.
    AGAIN, IN 2021, record-breaking wildfires burned in British Columbia, fuelled by the heat dome, drought, wind and excessive forest fuels. Our homes and communities are vulnerable—flammable structures surrounded by forests and mountains with limited evacuation routes made even more hazardous by thick smoke. Entire communities have burned—businesses, homes and, tragically, lives lost. The cascading effects of torrential rain on burned and exposed mountainsides contributed to the catastrophic floods that severed transportation routes and further disrupted lives and livelihoods.
    The costs are in the billions of dollars, without accounting for the indirect price of trauma and smoke on human health or damages to drinking water and wildlife habitat. Again, we find ourselves calling for urgent transformation of forest and fire management to reconfigure our forests and communities to be resilient to wildfires fuelled by climate change and outdated forest practices.
    Record wildfires have also ravaged the western United States—sparking action. Last week, the U.S. Federal Government announced plans to spend USD50B over the next decade on wildfire mitigation. Hundreds of millions of dollars are earmarked for forest thinning and prescribed burning on public lands, incentives for private landowners and support for Indigenous communities to enable fuel treatments, and subsidies for bioenergy products from hazardous fuels. Investments are holistic—buffers around communities called the Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI for short) supported by strategic treatments of surrounding landscapes. 
    BC sits at a crossroads: do we go big and bold like the US? Or, do we continue with the small-scale, individual-WUI approach that has been in place since 2004?
    BC’s approach has focused on the narrow buffer of land around communities, minimizing costs and impacts on timber supply. Not all communities benefit.
    Funding is prioritized on communities with high housing density and in the driest parts of the province—as a result, large communities, often with expensive homes, get the lion’s share of the money. And recently, some funding for proactively treating hazardous fuels has been redirected to education efforts to convince homeowners to take more responsibility to FireSmart (RT) their homes and properties. If 100 per cent of the community fully subscribed to FireSmart, and that’s a very optimistic scenario, physical homes and businesses could survive a fire, but the “community” would not.
    BC’s WUI-focused strategy surrenders our landscapes to severe fire effects —as we witnessed in 2017, 2018 and 2021. The costs to our society are mounting, as witnessed here in BC and the US, Australia, and other places impacted by extreme wildfires.
    Each year that hundreds of thousands of hectares of forests burn, BC residents and everyone downwind of us will suffer hundreds to thousands of premature deaths every year due to chronic smoke exposure, not to mention premature births and increased incidence of cognitive impairment. Watersheds delivering drinking water will require expensive rehabilitation and secondary water quality treatment. The timber harvesting land base will continue to shrink, resulting in mill closures, unemployment, and increased resource conflicts. Businesses such as agriculture and tourism will suffer from direct and indirect fire damage. Levels of social anxiety, depression and substance abuse will increase. Increasingly, municipal and provincial budgets will be consumed by reactive fire suppression and rehabilitation expenses. 
    Governments avoid going “big and bold”—it is politically risky. Going “small” spends less money and delivers short-term tangible results within an election cycle. Going “big and bold” requires long-term vision, but the dividends don’t accrue until well into the future. But adapting to wildfire is larger than politics—it is the difference between a future with options and opportunities for our children and grandchildren versus a future of very limited options and few opportunities. 
    Going “big and bold” for BC does not mean spending $50B over 10 years. Instead, it requires a significant shift in wildfire and forest management objectives and a change in priorities. The Province needs to heavily invest in WUI hazard reduction and radically shift landscape management from short-term timber supply to long-term resilience of ecosystems, habitats and productivity.
    Going forward, we need immediate, sustained, equitable, and large-scale action; we need to go “big and bold.” 

    Robert Gray is an AFE Certified Wildland Fire Ecologist and Dr. Lori Daniels is a Forest Ecologist at the University of British Columbia.

    Evergreen Alliance Staff
    A comparison of the carbon sequestration capacity of younger and older forests was posted by CBC and was read as a question on Quirks and Quarks:
    “With all the recent attention being paid to climate change and decarbonizing our atmosphere, I am curious, which takes more carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere —100 hectares of mature old growth forest, or 100 hectares of young forest?”
    Gregory Paradis, a forester, engineer, and assistant professor of forest management in the Faculty of Forestry at the University of British Columbia has an answer.
    “Trees capture carbon from the atmosphere by converting sunlight to cellulose through photosynthesis. When trees die and fall to the ground, they gradually emit most of this captured carbon back into the atmosphere. Young vigorous stands grow and sequester carbon at maximum speed. As stands get older, the tree canopy closes and individual trees begin to die off from self-thinning and other causes. 
    Very old forest stands can reach a sort of carbon neutral equilibrium state where trees are dying and decaying at approximately the same rate as they are growing back.
    So, taking into account both growth and mortality, 100 hectares of young forest will generally speaking have a higher net carbon capture rate than older but otherwise identical stands.”
    Paradis said that research has shown that the optimal landscape-level carbon sequestration policy may be to harvest and replant stands when they reach their peak growth rate. This is typically between 80 and 120 years old for most Canadian forest ecosystems, much younger than what is typically called old growth. 
    Ideally we would use the harvested forest material — wood and fibre — to displace as much fossil fuel, steel, and concrete as possible, to reduce carbon dioxide releases.

    Evergreen Alliance Staff
    COFI—the Council of Forest Industries—recently circulated a one-page informational circular (see link below) that stated, in the first paragraph: “BC is recognized globally for its expansive forests, natural beauty and biodiversity. Today, more than 52 % of BC’s land base—totaling [sic] 14.5 million hectares, more than 4.5 times the size of Vancouver Island—is protected or under some form of conservation measure.”
    The extent to which COFI’s claim is wrong is surprising. Geographers have determined that BC’s land base is 94,473,500 hectares, and 52 percent of that would be 47,236,750 hectares, not 14.5 million hectares.
    COFI is correct in stating that 14.5 million hectares of BC’s land base is in some form of legally protected status. That amounts to 15.3 percent of BC’s land base.
    But since COFI is really only interested in the forested land base, you might wonder why they are not focussing on how much of BC’s forested land base is protected. That might be because the number is a lot smaller: 6.53 million hectares. By comparison, about 22 million hectares of forested land base—over 3 times the area that’s protected—is available to logging.
    For its own survival, COFI needs to create a cloud of misinformation that obscures why such a small number of people employed by the forest industry are permitted to destroy so much forest for so little social benefit. It is, of course, to keep the opposition to the industry focused on the number of trees and the area protected so that no one talks about who is making the billions the industry claims it creates. When we understand that, we can understand why COFI consistently produces such wrong-headed misinformation.

    Evergreen Alliance Staff
    IN AN APRIL 7, 2021 INTERVIEW with CBC Victoria’s Gregor Craigie, Premier John Horgan claimed his government had already responded to the Gorley-Merkel report on old-growth forests in BC. The premier claimed that logging had been deferred on “hundreds of thousand of hectares” of old growth. Forest scientist Karen Price, one of the co-authors of BC’s Old Growth Forest: A Last Stand for Biodiversity, has pointed out that Horgan’s deferrals apply to only 3800 hectares of high-productivity old growth. FOCUS has shown that a large portion of the biggest deferral included about 100,000 hectares of already protected Strathcona Park. Other deferrals are mainly rock and ice or second-growth forest.
    Horgan’s grasp of forest-related issues was further clarified by his claim to Craigie that “just in the Lower Mainland, 500 million hectares of land has been set aside just to protect the Spotted Owl.” What’s wrong with that? Watch the 1-minute video below.
    The problem for British Columbians is that Horgan seems clueless about the environmental damage being created by the forest industry in BC, and even more unaware about how his government is responding to that. Or maybe both his claims about the logging deferrals and the area protected for Spotted Owls were a slip of the tongue, or a joke.
    Either way, Craigie didn’t fact-check the premier on either matter. Is British Columbia’s mainstream media unintentionally enabling the unfolding ecological catastrophe in BC forests?
    Neither the CBC or the premier’s office made any public correction of the misinformation Horgan provided. That’s why the Evergreen Alliance has created the Fact Checker Action Group.
    If you have heard something about BC’s forest industry in the media that you think is doubtful, including what you read on this website, please let us know in the Fact Checker Database and we’ll fact-check that piece of information.
    Thanks to Dave Cuddy for drawing to our attention John Horgan’s surprising plan to save the Northern Spotted Owl.

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