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British Columbia poised to lose ‘white rhino of old growth forests’

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.”

Read the complete article by Justin Catanoso published on 22 June 2020 at Mongabay

B.C. says firms can chop down whole trees for pellet fuel if they are ‘inferior’

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.

Amid forestry struggles, panel finds ‘surprising’ consensus on old-growth logging concerns in B.C.

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.

From the Ridgetop to the Reef

Please join Dr. Dominick DellaSala at his Ridgetop to the Reef presentation titled “How Coastal Rainforests Can Help the Climate” on Thursday, January 9th, 6:30 PM at the Pacific Maritime Heritage Center in Newport.

Abstract:

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.

States foreshadow legal battle over Trump’s Tongass rule

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.

‘Hundreds of hectares of moonscape’: B.C. spruce beetle infestation used to accelerate clear cuts

The largest spruce beetle epidemic in decades is attacking B.C.’s rain-rich interior, intensifying logging in forests that provide habitat for imperilled species like mountain caribou. But scientists and ecologists say resilient trees will survive and the forest will recover if we only give it a chance

By Sarah Cox, Originally published on October 16, 2019 at The Narwhal

Retired B.C. government forester Judy Thomas bushwhacks down a steep incline in B.C.’s Anzac River valley, north of Prince George, in search of a spruce beetle the size of a mouse turd.

To find one of the marauding insects Thomas has to chop through the coarse bark of an old-growth spruce to its soft inner layer, where a single beetle lays as many as 1,200 eggs. Extended ‘galleries’ of beetle larvae feed on the sapwood, killing the tree in tandem with an associated blue stain fungi.

“Let’s see if they’ve flown the coop,” says Thomas.

She points to telltale signs that the tree, still green and healthy-looking, has been under siege as part of the largest spruce beetle infestation B.C. has witnessed in 30 years.

Frass — a reddish brown sawdust-like substance that is a mixture of beetle poop and chewed tree debris — is sprinkled in bark crevices. The bark also has pitch tubes, appearing as tiny blobs of sap, that form as the tree tries to expel its miniature attackers.

Continue reading at The Narwhal

Not Just Brazil: Troubles In Temperate Rainforests

The world took notice of the summer’s fires in the Amazon region of Brazil.  The tropical rainforests are often called “the Earth’s lungs” for the oxygen they supply. 

Far less notice is taken of the fate of rainforests in temperate zones, including in the Pacific Northwest.  Logging continues on both sides of the US/Canada border, and that concerns a pair of scientists well-versed in the workings of those forests. 

Jens Wieting is with Sierra Club BC and Dominick DellaSala is with Geos Institute based in Ashland. 

They visit the studio to discuss their concerns for the temperate rainforests and the creatures that depend upon them.  

Listen to the exchange: https://www.ijpr.org/post/not-just-brazil-troubles-temperate-rainforests#stream/0

Clear Cut: Saving BC’s Inland Rainforest

An ancient rainforest in BC’s interior is at risk of disappearing after decades of logging

By Daniel Mesec, published August 19, 2019 at Cascadia Magazine

An ancient rainforest, nestled at the northern edge of the Rocky Mountains, has flourished for thousands of years. But this isn’t just any forest. Towering with western red cedars, western hemlock, spruce, and subalpine fir, British Columbia’s inland temperate rainforest has all the hallmarks of a coastal rainforest, yet it is nearly 1,000 km (621 miles) inland. It’s one of the rarest ecosystems on the planet.

Stretching for more than 200,000 hectares along the Upper Fraser Watershed, this diverse and ecologically sensitive forest is home to a vast array of flora and fauna. The interior cedar hemlock ecozone is not only home to thousand year-old western red cedars, but also mountain hemlock, Engelmann spruce, and subalpine fir. These damp, surprisingly lush forests support habitat for black bears, grizzlies, wolverines, pileated woodpeckers, owls, and many other animal species. But this trove of biodiversity that few people know about is now under threat from recent clear-cut logging.

Only 9 percent of BC’s inland rainforest has been designated as protected areas or parks by the provincial government, leaving more than three quarters of the remaining land open to clear-cut logging, which has removed more than a quarter of all the old-growth cedar and hemlock over the past half century. There is no end in sight.

‘Deliberate extinction’: extensive clear-cuts, gas pipeline approved in endangered caribou habitat

Scientists warn another B.C. caribou herd could disappear as the provincial government approves 78 new logging cutblocks in critical habitat for the Hart Ranges herd, while construction of a pipeline for LNG industry takes out another chunk of boreal forest

By Sarah Cox, Originally published on Aug 7, 2019 at The Narwhal

Standing near the summit of a clear-cut mountain in B.C.’s interior, overlooking the brown and emerald green Anzac River valley, scientist Dominick DellaSala has a bird’s eye view of why the Hart Ranges caribou herd is at risk of extinction.

Only a fringe of forest remains around the distant mountain peak where the declining herd seeks protection from wolves and other predators in ever-shrinking habitat northeast of Prince George.

“The difference between this and Borneo is that there aren’t any orangutans behind me,” says DellaSala, pointing to extensive clear cuts covering much of the mountain side.

“You’ve got caribou at upper elevations. That’s their habitat out there. And they’re being squished to the top of the tallest mountains because all the habitat’s been taken out down below. The species is migratory, it goes up and down.”

DellaSala, chief scientist and president of the Geos Institute in Ashland, Oregon, is touring parts of B.C.’s ancient inland temperate rainforest as part of an Australian-led study documenting the world’s most important unlogged forests.

Continue reading at The Narwhal

 

‘Deliberate extinction’: extensive clear-cuts, gas pipeline approved in endangered caribou habitat

Scientists warn another B.C. caribou herd could disappear as the provincial government approves 78 new logging cutblocks in critical habitat for the Hart Ranges herd, while construction of a pipeline for LNG industry takes out another chunk of boreal forest

By Sarah Cox, Originally published on Aug 7, 2019 at The Narwhal

Standing near the summit of a clear-cut mountain in B.C.’s interior, overlooking the brown and emerald green Anzac River valley, scientist Dominick DellaSala has a bird’s eye view of why the Hart Ranges caribou herd is at risk of extinction.

Only a fringe of forest remains around the distant mountain peak where the declining herd seeks protection from wolves and other predators in ever-shrinking habitat northeast of Prince George.

“The difference between this and Borneo is that there aren’t any orangutans behind me,” says DellaSala, pointing to extensive clear cuts covering much of the mountain side.

“You’ve got caribou at upper elevations. That’s their habitat out there. And they’re being squished to the top of the tallest mountains because all the habitat’s been taken out down below. The species is migratory, it goes up and down.”

DellaSala, chief scientist and president of the Geos Institute in Ashland, Oregon, is touring parts of B.C.’s ancient inland temperate rainforest as part of an Australian-led study documenting the world’s most important unlogged forests.

Continue reading at The Narwhal

 

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