The recent fires in southern Australia were unprecedented in scale and severity. Much commentary has rightly focused on the role of climate change in exacerbating the risk of fire. Here, we contend that policy makers must recognize that historical and contemporary logging of forests has had profound effects on these fires' severity and frequency.
David B. Lindenmayer, Robert M. Kooyman, Chris Taylor, Michelle Ward and James E. M. Watson
Published in Nature Ecology & Evolution
The authors found that logging causes a rise in fuel loads, increases potential drying of wet forests and causes a decrease in forest height. Watson has been quoted as saying, "[Logging] can leave up to 450 tonnes of combustible fuel per hectare close to the ground—by any measure that's an incredibly dangerous level of combustible material in seasonally dry landscapes.
"By allowing these practices to increase fire severity and flammability, we undermine the safety of some of our rural communities.
"[Logging] affects wildlife too by creating habitat loss, fragmentation and disturbance for many species, with major negative effects on forest wildlife."
You can read the full report here.
There's no reason to believe the impact of logging on the increasing severity of fires in BC, particularly in BC's dry Interior, would be any different from Australia's situation. The BC government has published no scientific analysis of the role clearcut logging has played in increasing fire size and severity in BC.
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