Sustainability in British Columbia’s Forests
It is a well known fact that British Columbia is a province that is mainly covered by trees. Almost 65,000 hectare of the province is currently under tree cover, much of which is the lodge pole pine tree that has been ravaged by the infamous mountain pine beetle, and various other invasive species (British Forests “Forests” 26). For years, the future of the forest industry in BC has been a topic of major controversy over many kitchen tables and barrooms in the province.
Over the past thirty years, the mountain pine beetle has damaged the forests of British Columbia to the point that entire communities are being destroyed. The livelihood of ...view middle of the document...
An obvious result of this lengthy process is employment for those working in the forest industry and in fields which are related or which relies on the forest industry. Pulp and paper mill workers, for example, are entirely reliant on the forests being sustainable. This wood is perfectly usable in products such as glue, tape, envelopes, cardboard items, and also as non-premium paper goods (Gonzalez & Berg 341).
Similarly, there are benefits to the ecological systems in the forests if the dead pines are removed. An assortment of wildlife will use the trees on the ground for shelter, food storage and a multitude of other functions. British Columbia has an estimated 1,138 vertebrate species native to the province that have been identified as dependant on the forests for survival (British Forests “Forests” 27). Air quality will improve as soon as the composting process begins and the regrowth starts to happen in the understory of the forest floor (Case & Coupe 43). The trees will compost into the forest floor, encouraging regrowth and revival of pine and other species indigenous to the forest infrastructure of BC (Case & Coupe 46).
Wildfires will continue to plague the province as these trees dry out and the danger increases with each passing year, not only to the vegetation and animal species, but to the rural and urban communities of living human people. Although the risk of fire will increase due to the pine beetle outbreak for a period of up to twenty years, once the dead trees are removed, the fire danger is likely to return to pre-outbreak levels, according to the Ministry of Forests and Range (Case & Coupe 61).
In spite of the fact that the Ministry of Forest and Range claims that there are too many challenges and limitations to successfully report on useful indicators of the effects and damage created by the pine beetle, the contrary appears to be true, in that much data is available for
perusal by the public for inquiry into the situation. The Ministry’s own report includes an admission that “past assumptions about the mountain pine beetle have proven to be wrong”
(British Forests “State and Trend” 50). This is, in effect, admitting their own ineptness in reporting the severity of the situation at hand, and denying accountability to their voting public.
In Sophie Higman’s Sustainable Forestry Handbook, there is a section titled “The Human Cost of Bad Forestry”, and what an appropriate work this is in relation to what is happening in British Columbia. Socio-economic progress is affected by mismanagement of the forest sector. The social ramifications that can arise through the failure to develop suitable legislation and intervention concerning the forest regions and the maintenance and care of said forests are immeasurable (Higman 12). Forestry remains the principal and most viable development alternative in many...