Critical issue: Clearcut logging destroys wildlife habitat, damages the hydrological function of forests and increases risk of forest fire. End large-scale industrial clearcutting.
OVER THE PAST 20 years, an average of 208,000 hectares of public land were logged in BC every year. This has been accomplished almost entirely by clearcut logging, a practice in which virtually all trees are removed from the area being logged. Since 2001, 3.9 million hectares of forest has been logged (9.6 million acres), leaving BC with the highest rate of logging, per capita, of any of the 10 most-forested countries of the world.
Why is clearcut logging employed? Because it allows forest companies to harvest a given volume of wood at the least monetary cost. While it may be good for the forest industry, it is ecologically devastating.
Four of the negative impacts of clearcut logging are highlighted below, followed by the solution: selection logging and a much-reduced cut.
Clearcut logging destroys wildlife habitat, raising the risk of biodiversity loss
The immediate effect of clearcut logging is to kill or displace almost all plants and animals that occupied a forest stand before it was destroyed. Since logging often occurs across many cutblocks in the same area around the same time, and is, in any case, an ongoing process across the scale of landscapes, the number of animals displaced is too great for them to be accommodated by the remaining adjacent forest. Destruction and fragmentation of wildlife habitat by clearcut logging are the most significant factors in BC’s biodiversity crisis. Fragmentation can precipitate population decline, restrict animal movement and gene flow, and sever landscape connectivity.
Clearcutting of natural forests in BC has pushed species like the Mountain Caribou, Northern Goshawk and Northern Spotted Owl to the brink of extinction. Read more about transitioning away from clearcut logging to protect wildlife habitat
Clearcut logging causes soil erosion, flooding and endangers aquatic life
Normally, forests reduce runoff from rain and snowmelt. The sudden loss of tree cover by clearcutting removes the ability of a forest to mitigate runoff. Clearcutting exposes forest soil to running water, resulting in nutrient loss which reduces future forest productivity. It also results in high sediment levels in runoff, which, along with higher water temperature caused by loss of shade of creeks and streams, lowers salmonid survival rates. Logging in community watersheds can degrade water quality to such an extent that expensive treatment facilities are required, at community expense. The accumulation of clearcuts in watersheds can affect timing and peak flows of rivers, causing flooding of human habitat. Read more about transitioning away from clearcut logging to protect the hydrological functions of forests
Clearcut logging increases forest fire hazard for 30 years after logging
Only a fraction of the biomass killed by clearcut logging has commercial economic value. As a result, between 40 and 60 percent is left in a clearcut to decompose or burn. That fuel—coupled with the high flammability of plantation regrowth—increases forest fire hazard for up to 30 years. Clearcuts also cause adjacent forested areas to be hotter and drier during summer months, making those areas more flammable. With larger and larger areas subject to increased fire hazard, emissions from forest fires in BC have been doubling every nine years since 2000. So clearcut logging is accelerating climate change. Read more about how clearcut logging increases forest fire hazard