The province’s forests and the forest industry have a role to play in climate change, says one of the Kootenays’ industry professionals.
Stuart Card, chief forester at Castlegar’s Interfor, said climate change is at the heart of today’s society, but sustainable forest management practice could reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. ) and also contribute to climate adaptation.
“Forest management, active forest management, it’s going to help fight climate change, it’s going to help us minimize and mitigate catastrophic fire years,” he told Nelson City Council during a meeting. a meeting on March 22.
Over the past four decades, forests have moderated climate change by absorbing around a quarter of the carbon emitted by human activities, including the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation.
Forests absorb greenhouse gases, regulate water flows and protect coastal communities from extreme events and sea level rise, making them a cornerstone in the fight against climate change. As trees grow, they help stop climate change by removing carbon dioxide from the air, storing carbon in trees and soil, and releasing oxygen into the atmosphere.
A healthy forest means a stronger weapon against climate change, Card said.
Councilor Jesse Woodward had questioned Card and other members of the Council of Forest Industries (COFI) representatives who appeared before the council on the battle for the perpetual growth of forestry, with the need to re-wild the landscape so that can store carbon.
“How do you balance a healthy forest industry with year-over-year growth? ” He asked.
The misconception in B.C. is that there’s year-over-year growth, Card said.
“Our harvest has dropped and dropped significantly since the 1990s, where we are almost half of what we were 20 or 30 years ago,” he said.
“So for me it’s a very conscious and sustainable outcome where harvest levels are constantly being assessed and revised and set at long-term sustainable levels.”
But the province faces a large GHG emission from wood decay, said councilor Rik Logtenberg, who noted that British Columbia had about 48 megatonnes of GHG emissions (in 2019) from decay. harvested wood products.
“In 1990, our forests sequestered about 80 megatons, which was more than our total production, so overall our forests were absorbing more carbon than we were producing,” he said.
“Today, our forests weren’t sequestering carbon at all, they were actually producing it. They are in such disrepair, they are in such a state of disrepair that almost 90 megatons of sequestration have been lost in our forests. How will the industry meet this monumental challenge in the future? »
COFI Vice President for Government and Public Affairs Alexa Young said several things are helping to solve this problem.
“How can we continuously reinforce what we do in the forest to make sure we don’t leave things out of the forest that are susceptible to fires?” she says. “It’s going to be a collective effort and it’s something that all parties are going to have to be involved in.”
She said the power of substitution — using low-carbon products like wood rather than high-carbon ones like steel and concrete — helps.
Logtenberg said he wondered about the decomposition of wood waste, the piles of slash that would decompose on the site and in the forest.
“I think it’s a practical thing, dealing with waste that decomposes and creates a lot of emissions, both in the factories and on the site,” he said.
Michael Armstrong, COFI’s vice president of policy and operations, said industry and government have been working for years to find ways to use all the fiber in the bush, with the Forest Enhancement Society of BC set up to help extract these waste fibers. wood to use.
“One of the issues is the economics of that, so we’re working with the government to try to find other opportunities for that fiber,” he said.
The province got rid of hive burners and slash pile burning years ago, Armstrong added.
Ryan Weltz, director of operations at Interfor, said anything that comes into the plant gets used.
“In the bush, one of our best allies is the pulp mill. If it’s economical to ship the tailings piles to the pulp mill,” we do, he says.
They also leave some of that wood to decay and become fertilizer for the next generation of trees.
The industry needs to be more active on this front, there’s no question, Card said.
“There is more that can be done, but letting stands move naturally is not always the solution and often we have to be there to actively manage them to protect communities and our forest resources, and other resources. that we collect in these areas.