There are three types of rainforests: tropical, temperate, and boreal. Tropical rainforests are warm and very wet places found near the equator that receive some 60 to 160 inches rainfall evenly distributed throughout the year. In contrast, temperate and boreal rainforests are found at high latitudes (northern and southern hemispheres), generally near coastlines, and in very wet (40 to 100 inches or more) and cool (average annual temperature of 43- 52̊ F) places that receive up to a quarter of their annual rainfall in the summer, a time when other forest types are experiencing summer droughts. Boreal rainforests are found in northern latitudes and are at the cool end of the temperature spectrum, even cooler than temperate climates. While most of the world’s boreal forests are in dry climates, a small subset with coastal influences are wet enough to qualify as rainforests. Ecologists also have recognized them as rainforests, but the general public is unaware of this distinction or its importance.
In the public imagination, British Columbia is swathed in green and famous for its towering old growth forests. But while the provincial government says 23% of BC’s forests are old growth, a new study finds that a mere 1% remains with tall trees.
Intense pressure is now being put on the remaining trees by a forestry industry eager to capitalize on nations desperate for new “carbon neutral” sources of energy, including the revamping of coal-fired power plants to burn wood pellets.
A lot is riding ecologically on whatever policy decisions are eventually enacted in BC.
Dominick DellaSala is president and chief scientist of the Geos Institute in Oregon. He specializes in studying rare ecosystems globally and says of BC’s temperate, old growth forests: “From my research, there are only two other regions on earth like it — southeast Russia and Siberia. These forests are important and rare. They have the highest richness of lichens of any place in the world, a main food source for the mountain caribou, which is circling the extinction drain. Some trees are estimated to be 1,600 years old. And they are being wasted by logging.”
DellaSala underlined the fact that old growth forests are a large, stable source of carbon: “If we are going to fight climate change, we need to get off fossil fuels and hang onto on our remaining primary forests.”
For Immediate Release on May 13, 2020
As multiple current legislative proposals attempt to shoehorn measures that would increase logging, or increase funding for logging, into COVID-19 stimulus packages, over 200 top U.S. climate and forest scientists are now asking Congressional leaders to avoid using the pandemic emergency as a means for stripping away forest protections and promoting logging. In a historic and unprecedented letter sent to Congress today, the scientists conclude that, in order to avoid the worst impacts of the climate crisis, moving beyond fossil fuel consumption is not enough, and we must also increase forest protections and shift away from energy-intensive and greenhouse-gas polluting wood consumption.
The scientists note that annual carbon emissions from logging in U.S. forests are comparable to emissions from the residential and commercial sectors combined. They ask legislators to reject false climate solutions that promote forest biomass logging (removal and incineration of trees for energy production) under the guise of “climate-friendly” or “carbon neutral” energy or logging for cross-laminated timber (CLT) and other wood products under the guise of carbon storage. Most of the carbon in trees is removed from forests when they are logged and quickly ends up in the atmosphere or in landfills, they caution. The scientists also note that logging, including commercial “thinning,” can often increase fire intensity in forests, while damaging soils and removing vital nutrients, which undermines the carbon sequestration and storage capacity of forests.
“Forests are our only means for removing atmospheric carbon dioxide and storing the carbon long term at the needed scale. Burning wood in place of coal is accelerating global warming and decreasing the capacity of forests to counter the buildup of heat trapping carbon dioxide,” said Dr. William Moomaw of Tufts University. Dr. Chad Hanson, a forest ecologist with the John Muir Project, observed, “The dangerous excess CO2 that we’ve put into the atmosphere with fossil fuel consumption and logging will stay there for far too long if we don’t take serious steps to bring it down, and forest protection is our best and most effective way to do that.” Dr. Dominick DellaSala, Chief Scientist with the Geos Institute, added, “The vast majority of scientists warn that in order to avoid catastrophic climate impacts in the decades ahead, including new pandemics potentially linked to deforestation, we need to keep dinosaur-carbon in the ground and store atmospheric carbon in forests.”
On Monday May 11, Dominick DellaSala, lead scientist with the Geo Institute in Ashland, Oregon, talks with Locus Focus.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a brutal reminder of how out of balance our planet has become. Decades of explosive human population growth and an increasingly mobile population have put us in close contact, squeezed natural habitats, and forced wild animals to occupy cities or perish. These factors play a significant role in causing and spreading pandemics, like the one that is now shutting down the world.
We’ll discuss how confined animal feed operations, poaching, overhunting, and consumption of wild animals as food or trade can also spark novel virues to jump from other wild species to humans—which is what has happened with COVID-19.
The coronavirus pandemic is a distress signal coming to us from imperiled ecosystems and wildlife; it is not a one-off event. The best gift we could give not just our planet but ourselves is to start viewing strong environmental policy as preventive medicine.
By Carl Meyer
Canada’s National Observer
Published April 30th 2020
Companies can cut down whole trees to be ground into pellets for fuel if they are “inferior,” says British Columbia’s natural resources ministry, a position that has led to concerns the government is “rebranding” old growth forests as low-quality in order to justify logging them.
B.C.’s Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development told National Observer on April 27 that “timber harvesting has evolved over time” and that the industry is now focusing on sending “high-quality” lumber to sawmills.
Other whole trees, the ministry said, can get sent to plants that manufacture wood pellets, a type of biomass fuel that is burned for heating or electricity and is made by compacting together wood material. Keep reading.
Listen to the April 27th Jefferson Exchange radio interview with Dr. Dominick DellaSala and former United Nations Assistant Secretary General Franz Baumann connecting Earth, natural systems, and human health.
The butterfly effect is a thought experiment about how a small change in a system—a butterfly flapping its wings—can ripple through complex, interconnected systems, eventually cascading into larger events, like a tornado in Oklahoma. Despite having been popularized by the 1993 Jurassic Park movie, it’s not as far-fetched as it sounds.
While there’s uncertainty about how the novel coronavirus originally infected people, it might have started as viral spillover (transfer) from bats or other wild animals. One emerging hypothesis based on DNA evidence is that, because of natural habitat destruction, horseshoe bats in China were forced into cities. Under increased stress, the bats shed viruses that were picked up by people and perhaps other animals in an early infection cluster. Alarmingly, some 75 percent of emerging infectious diseases worldwide are exchanged between humans and wild animals. Think West Nile, Lyme, Ebola, Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), and Zika. The deadly Ebola outbreak has been linked to deforestation in Africa and to virus spillover from consumption of primates or bats that places hunters, consumers, and wildlife at risk.
By Dominick DellaSala, William J. Ripple and Franz Baumann
Published Monday, April 20th 2020 at the Medford Mail Tribune
The staggering loss of life from the coronavirus pandemic has thrown our daily lives into chaos. Whenever it is deemed safe enough to leave the protective bubble of our homes, the world will be markedly different. To reduce the chances of the next pandemic, human and planetary health need to be solved together, as an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
The leading hypothesis on how the virus originally infected people in China is that it started in clusters as viral spillover from infected bats and possibly other wild animals forced into close proximity with people. But don’t blame bats or the Chinese for the Earth out of balance.
Conservation North, supported by Geos Institute science, pushes for ban on old growth logging in world class inland rainforest in British Columbia.
When professional foresters Al Gorley and Garry Merkel were appointed to lead a sweeping review of how B.C.’s old-growth forests are managed, they made a deal with each other before hitting the road.
They wouldn’t come to a single conclusion until they had wrapped up what Gorley calls their “listening phase” — four months touring the province and gathering input from people of all walks of life, from forestry company executives to people who came in “off of the street or out of their garden and just wanted to share a personal perspective.”
After visiting 30 communities, the duo is taken aback by the consensus they’ve encountered as they prepare to wrap up the “listening” phase of the old-growth strategic review this week.
Keep reading: “Amid forestry struggles, panel finds ‘surprising’ consensus on old-growth logging concerns in B.C.“, by Sarah Cox, published Jan 27, 2020 at The Narwhal.
Receiving as much as 200 inches of annual rainfall on average, the forested western slopes of the Oregon Coast Range unsurprisingly fits the definition as rainforest. In fact, much of the Pacific Coast of North America does in the area between Northern California’s redwoods and Southeastern Alaska. This region, along with the Canadian boreal forest and the world’s tropical forests are considered the ecological lungs of the planet, filtering carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to create oxygen, while also storing the carbon in long-lived trees, dead standing and downed wood, and in roots in the soil. While all plants provide this function, the quick growth rates and large sizes that our coastal trees attain provides a powerful mechanism to help absorb the additional carbon dioxide that is dangerously warming our planet.
The carbon storage benefits of conserving natural habitats such as trees, marshes, and soils, in natural and working landscapes are “natural climate solutions”, and the overarching topic of a carbon-storage focused speaker series, “From Ridgetop to Reef”, hosted by the MidCoast Watersheds Council. On Thursday, January 9th , at 6:30 PM at the Pacific Maritime Heritage Center in Newport,Dr. Dominick DellaSalla of the Geos Institute, will focus on the vital role our coastal rainforests play globally. His talk will also discuss the importance of conserving unlogged forests, and how our working forests too can be managed for additional carbon benefits.
Dr. Dominick A. DellaSala is President and Chief Scientist of the Geos Institute in Ashland, Oregon and former President of the Society for Conservation Biology, North America Section. He is an internationally renowned author of over 200 science papers on forest and fire ecology, conservation biology, endangered species management, and landscape ecology. Dominick has given plenary and keynote talks ranging from academic conferences to the United Nations Earth Summit. He has appeared in National Geographic, Science Digest, Science Magazine, Scientific American, Time Magazine, Audubon Magazine, National Wildlife Magazine, High Country News, Terrain Magazine, NY Times, LA Times, USA Today, Jim Lehrer News Hour, CNN, MSNBC, “Living on Earth (NPR),” several PBS documentaries, and Fox News. Dominick is currently serving on the Oregon’s Global Warming Commission Subcommittee on Forest Carbon and is Editor of numerous scientific journals and publications. His book: Temperate and Boreal Rain Forests of the World: Ecology and Conservation received an academic excellence award from Choice magazine, one of the nation’s top book review journals. His recent co-authored book, The Ecological Importance of Mixed-Severity Fires: Nature’s Phoenix, presents groundbreaking science on the ecological importance of wildfires. Dominick co-founded the Geos Institute in July 2006 and says he is motivated “to leave a living planet for my two daughters, two grandkids and all those that follow.”
Following the January presentation, on the first Thursday of each month until June, “From Ridgetop to Reef” will explore different habitats of Oregon’s Coast as natural climate solutions
and their potential to store carbon, and the tools and incentives needed to foster widespread actions to enhance this capacity. On Thursday, January 9th, Dominick’s presentation will begin at 6:30 PM in the Pacific Maritime Heritage Center’s newly-renovated Doerfler Family Theatre in Newport on 333 SE Bay Blvd. Refreshments will be provided. Following all presentations part of the series, the MidCoast Watersheds Council regular Board meeting will follow to review current restoration work, the monthly financial report, and the work of the technical and administrative committees.
Originally published in E&E news by Marc Heller on December 17, 2019
Attorneys general in six states urged the Trump administration yesterday to withdraw a proposal to open more of Alaska’s Tongass National Forest to logging, saying it violates several aspects of federal law.
None of the administration’s alternatives that would scale back the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule in the Tongass are lawful, said the officials, representing California, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon and Washington state in a letter to the Forest Service that could telegraph future legal action.
“The undersigned States therefore urge the Forest Service to correct these fundamental legal defects or withdraw the Proposed Rule,” they said.
In their letter, submitted in advance of today’s deadline for public comments on the proposal, the officials criticized the administration for ignoring potential environmental impacts such as effects on carbon sequestration and climate change, and for inadequately consulting with the Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA Fisheries.
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