Study calls for changes in logging practices to protect forest "carbon bank"
A study whose findings were recently released by ForestEthics details how logging Ontario's intact boreal forest is significantly increasing the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and contributing to climate change. Failure to change logging practices and protect this resource will dangerously accelerate climate change, says the group.
The report, Robbing the Carbon Bank: Global Warming and Ontario's Forests, represents the first comprehensive effort to catalogue the impacts of logging Ontario's intact boreal forest on climate change.
"Logging forests in Canada releases more greenhouse gases than the use of all of Canada's passenger vehicles," said Tzeporah Berman, ForestEthics' strategic director, adding, "Protecting our boreal forests must be a key component of any government climate plan."
The study indicates that logging in Ontario releases an estimated four megatonnes (Mt) of carbon (15 Mt CO2) per year, or 19 tonnes of carbon per hectare (based on statistics from Environment Canada). This amount is roughly equivalent to the carbon emitted from all light-duty gas-powered trucks in the province and 7% of Ontario's total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
At the same time, it adds, Canada's boreal forests constitute a giant carbon bank account, storing a total of 47.5 billion tons of carbon--seven times the entire world's fossil fuel emissions.
Accordingly, the report recommends the immediate:
*protection of forest ecosystems in Ontario's boreal forests with priority placed on intact, old forests and critical species habitat such as caribou range;
*implementation of ecologically sound land use planning processes that honour aboriginal rights and account for global warming prior to development;
*introduction of carbon-sequestering forest management practices on second growth forests;
*growth of recycled and re-used wood and paper products; and
*development of longer harvest rotations for optimal forest age for forest carbon storage, together with the use of less intensive harvest techniques to protect soil carbon stores.
The full report may be viewed on-line at www.forestethics.ca. More information is available from Tzeporah Berman at ForestEthics, 604/313-4713.