BC Coastal Forests a Big Source of Uncounted Carbon Emissions — Sierra Club of BC

Big trees near the San Juan Bridge, Port Renfrew

Sierra Club BC report urges immediate changes to make forests carbon sinks, protect species

Media Release

Victoria, Jan 13, 2011

Logging in B.C.’s coastal rainforests is a significant and hidden source of provincial greenhouse gas emissions and must be included in B.C.’s official carbon emissions inventory, Sierra Club BC said today in a report. The report reveals that B.C.’s official carbon emissions would be 24 percent higher if emissons from coastal rainforests were included.

“These emissions are not caused by the mountain pine beetle or large fires, as in other parts of B.C.” said Jens Wieting, Sierra Club BC coastal forests campaigner and report author. “They are mainly produced by inadequate logging practices and insufficient management, and it’s time for that to change.”

The report, entitled “Restoring the Balance for Climate and Species," found that:

•    B.C. carbon emissions would increase by almost 50 percent if the B.C. government included emissions from coastal and other forests in its annual greenhouse gas emissions inventory.
•    Forty-five percent of the Old-Growth Management Areas for Vancouver Island, designated by the B.C. government in 2010, cover poor productivity forests with small, stunted trees. Only six percent cover forest types with the highest carbon storage per hectare and the highest risk of species extinction due to scant remaining old growth.
•    Fast-disappearing old-growth forests on Vancouver Island and B.C.’s south coast mean there is a high risk of species extinction in an area covering two million hectares.

The report, released at the start of the International Year of the Forest and just as Environment Canada confirmed 2010 the hottest year on Canadian record books, recommends that B.C. make coastal rainforests a carbon sink rather than a carbon source, by prioritizing conservation and improving forest management.

“Logging and carbon loss don’t have to go hand in hand. We can set aside rare old forests and reduce the carbon footprint of logging through longer rotations, selective logging and waste reduction.  At the same time, we can protect at-risk species and jobs,” said Wieting.

Among other recommendations, the report asks the B.C. government to include forest emissions in the province’s greenhouse gas emissions tally, to identify conservation priorities for coastal forests based on the same science-based approach used in the Great Bear Rainforest, and to allocate appropriate resources for improved forest stewardship and management.

“Global warming and impending species extinction mean that we must reduce carbon emissions from all sources very quickly, and take a new approach to forest management, with immediate action for high-risk zones along B.C.’s coast,” said Wieting.

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