Between 2001 and 2019, British Columbia lost forest cover on 7.88 million hectares of land. That number was determined by Global Forest Watch, which analyses satellite images to estimate forest loss around the globe. In BC's case, according to Canada's National Forestry Database, logging accounted for 3.9 million hectares of that loss. The other half was the result of forest fires and insects, mainly the Mountain Pine Beetle infestation in BC's Interior. When compared with the most-forested nations on a per capita basis, BC's record of total forest cover loss is, by far, the worst.
It's well-known that the Mountain Pine Beetle attack on Lodgepole Pine tree had a heavy impact on BC's forests during this period. As well, the province has experienced more frequent large forest fires than the historical frequency of such fires. Yet if we count only the forest cover loss as a result of logging, BC still has a considerably worse record than any of the most-forested nations.
While Russia and Brazil both had a higher absolute loss of forest cover, they also have much greater populations than BC. It's only when forest cover loss is considered on a per capita basis that we can see how haywire our rate of logging is compared to other countries.
Our over-exploitation of BC's forests is sometimes explained away as just an inescapable aspect of our national character: "Canadians are just hewers of wood and drawers of water."
But the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss, both of which are made significantly worse by the vast scale of industrial logging in BC, demand that we change that part of our national character and begin to respond materially to crises which we, on a per capita basis, have played a profoundly significant role.
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