“We’re undervaluing it so much that it’s not creating that incentive to protect it,” says local grad student
TREES ARE POWERFUL PLAYERS in the fight against climate change, serving as “carbon sinks” that pull greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions out of the atmosphere and improve air quality—but with lumber prices on the rise in recent years, that doesn’t mean they’re priceless.
In terms of dollars, just how valuable is Whistler’s temperate rainforest standing?
That’s one question Whistler-based graduate student Jared Areshenkoff sought to answer through his recent master’s research for Royal Roads University. As part of his research, Areshenkoff evaluated how much carbon the Resort Municipality of Whistler's (RMOW) trees can effectively store, based on the pollutant’s current and future market price. His research focused on above-ground biomass—so branches, stems, foliage and bark—located within the resort’s boundaries.
“Nearly everything that is considered in today’s world is typically viewed from an economic lens, including the steps needed for climate change mitigation. I wanted to use that same argument in order to put a value on trees within the RMOW that doesn’t include lumber value,” he explained in an email.
“Essentially, what this research is about is providing another argument for protection,” he added in a follow-up conversation.
As Areshenkoff discovered, Whistler’s trees are significantly undervalued.