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David Broadland

David Broadland
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  1. Skene and Polanyi are right to warn Canadians about the logging industry's impact on climate stability. As their report notes, however, they too use "government's own underlying data". In BC, biogenic carbon emissions prematurely emitted to the atmosphere by logging don't even count in the government's assessment of provincial GHG emissions. Some of those biogenic emissions are recorded in the inventory, but they are not counted in the public reporting of provincial emissions. Worse, only about half of logging-related biogenic emissions are even recorded—those related to decomposition of forest products, as well as an estimate of emissions from slash pile burning. But much of the organic material killed by logging does not make it into the government's calculations. The Evergreen Alliance has developed a methodology for estimating all forest carbon emissions that are prematurely released to the atmosphere as a result of logging. As well, the liquidation of primary forests and the attempted replacement of those natural forests with managed forests will result in a significant decline in forest carbon sequestration capacity in BC. The impact of that loss of the ability of BC forests to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere is slightly larger than the impact of BC's carbon emissions from fossil fuels. This report does not include that loss in its considerations. The upshot is that the impact on GHG emissions from BC's biogenic emissions plus the loss of carbon sequestration capacity alone are larger than the emissions from Canada's oil sands projects. This report is far too conservative in its estimation of the problem.
  2. Hi MOD. Hummingbird Lake is an unofficial name, apparently given to the lake by the logging company. There is a slight overlap of the areas of old forest mapped by the Discovery Islands Forest Conservation Project and the priority deferral areas. I have written about this in British Columbia's Big Lie.
  3. The BC government is committing a 220,000-square-kilometre, biodiversity-killing, climate-destabilizing fraud on its own citizens and the international community. THERE’S BEEN A LOT OF WRITING over the past year about the “Big Lie” in American politics: A deliberate, gross distortion of the truth, repeated over and over, even in the face of evidence that what’s being claimed is false. This isn’t just a sickness affecting American politics. Month after month, around the globe, scientists uncover more of the truth about how badly humanity has overshot Earth’s ecological limits. Perversely, the scientists’ dire warnings simply cause governments, corporations and their political proxies to respond with measures that protect the status quo. Rather than addressing the issues head-on and making plans to address the overshot in a meaningful way, these entities resort to greenwashing, denial and deliberate, gross distortions of the truth. The British Columbia government has its own version of a Big Lie, which it uses to manufacture continued public consent for the immense transformation of 220,000 square-kilometres of BC’s publicly owned primary forests into clearcuts, permanent logging roads and managed, short-rotation monoculture plantations. BC’s deliberate, gross distortion of the truth has two parts: First, that this transformation is being conducted under strict, science-based regulations that ensure “sustainability.” And second, that the liquidation of natural forests is being carefully monitored using powerful information technology to ensure we don’t exceed natural limits. Both of these claims can readily be shown to be false, yet government and industry make them so often that almost everyone believes them. Real progress at turning away from the endless, destructive exploitation of nature in our province won’t be possible until the BC government acknowledges the deception behind its claims of strict regulatory control and creates an accurate inventory of what remains of nature in this province—and a plan for how to restore it where it is most damaged. If new Premier David Eby’s commitment to sustain BC’s biodiversity by doubling the amount of protected area by 2030 is to be successful, it’s essential that his initiative doesn’t become just another exercise in protecting more rock and ice and adding more territory to BC’s Big Lie. This satellite photo of logging west of Kelowna covers an area of 63 square kilometres. The 220,000 square kilometres of primary forest in BC that is being converted to clearcuts, logging roads and plantations is 3,500 times greater than the area shown here (click image to enlarge). For context, the entire state of Washington covers 184,827 square kilometres. Does BC have strict, science-based regulations that ensure the “environmental sustainability” of converting primary forests to managed plantations? The short answer to that question is “No.” Converting primary forests, most of which are old, to short-rotation industrial plantations in which trees will never be allowed to grow old, profoundly changes the nature of a forest. Just one example of that change: The species of animals that need old primary forest—like Marbled Murrelets, Northern Goshawks and Mountain Caribou—won’t survive for long in a landscape covered by clearcuts, logging roads and managed plantations. It would take hundreds of years for an old forest ecology to re-emerge, but that’s not in the government’s plan. So how could the conversion ever be considered “environmentally sustainable”? It follows, then, that when anyone claims logging in BC occurs according to strict regulations that ensure environmental sustainability, the only part of that claim that might be true is the “strict regulations” part. So let’s examine that. After the BBC recently caught the British energy corporation Drax in the act of logging primary forest southeast of Prince George and turning it into fuel pellets, one of the defences Drax CEO Will Gardiner offered was this: “Areas identified by the [BC] Government for harvest are carefully selected by them using an exhaustive list of environmental criteria that includes but is not limited to; old growth management; landscape and site level biodiversity; age class distribution (old growth); riparian management; watershed management; wildlife management; visual quality; species at risk; rare and sensitive ecosystems; cultural heritage resources; soil quality; species diversity; site productivity; as well as social and economic considerations.” Gardiner was repeating the first part of the lie: Logging companies in BC labour under a great weight of stringent science-based regulations imposed by the government that are designed to ensure environmental sustainability. A more succinct expression of this part of the lie was recently offered by then BC Forests Minister Katrine Conroy, who explained to a Business in Vancouver reporter why other countries—like Japan—prefer to buy wood products from BC: “They recognize that we have some of the most stringent regulations for environmental sustainability when it comes to how we take care of our forests, as well as how we harvest them.” But the claim that BC has “stringent regulations for environmental sustainability” is not actually supported by forest legislation. Instead, all of BC’s legislated, science-based “stringent regulations” aimed at protecting non-timber values can only be enforced to the extent that they do not “unduly reduce the supply of timber from British Columbia’s forests”. That constraint on regulation, by its use seven times in the Forest Planning and Practices Regulation, legally limits the extent to which wildlife, soils, fish, riparian areas, sensitive watersheds and biodiversity (at both the landscape and stand levels) can be protected when an area is logged. To what degree are conservation objectives limited by the “unduly” clauses? Pretty darn close to 100 percent. Logged and burned primary forest in the Klanawa Valley (Photo by TJ Watt) That detail is not spelled out in the Forest Planning and Practices Regulation itself. But a Ministry of Forests’ document written by staff of the Forest and Range Evaluation Program in 2003, just before the Regulation was enacted, stated that the impacts of conservation objectives on timber supply were to be capped at no more than 6 percent—province-wide (1). The reason for the “unduly” clauses in the Forest Planning and Practices Regulation was also made clear in the document: “The intent of this language is to ensure that conservation of non-timber values is undertaken in balance with economic benefits”. That lop-sided, politically determined “balance”—94 points for logging and 6 for conservation—makes it clear that imposing “stringent regulations” was never the purpose of the legislation. The purpose was to create laws that appear to impose stringent regulations without actually imposing stringent regulations. The Forest Planning and Practices Regulation and its hidden cap on timber supply impact have allowed 20 more years of nearly unfettered destruction of primary forests, while at the same time providing excuse-makers in government and industry with credible “proof” that it’s all under control. Can you spot the protection of conservation values in this clearcut east of Prince George? (Photo: Sean O’Rourke/Conservation North) The office that’s supposed to enforce those “stringent regulations” is the Natural Resources Compliance and Enforcement branch (C&E). But its record of protecting BC’s forested ecosystems suggests that it knows it’s not supposed to do anything that might impact timber supply. Over the last 11 years, C&E has failed to get even a single administrative penalty, administrative sanction or court conviction against any company or individual under the Forest and Range Practices Act, the Forest Act, the Forest Stand Management Fund Act, or the Forest Practices Code of British Columbia Act, according to its public record of such cases. You might think that’s because no one in the logging industry has done anything wrong in the last decade. But I know of one slam-dunk case in which old primary forest on Quadra Island was logged in contravention of the tenure-holder’s commitment to retain old forest—and C&E declined to investigate due to budgetary and staff constraints. According to the BC government directory, C&E currently employs 8 people as “investigators” of infractions of forest-related laws. To cover the entire 22-million-hectare timber harvesting land base—the area in which logging is occurring in BC—each investigator would be responsible for an area about the size of Vancouver Island. By putting a 6 percent cap on the impact that conservation measures can have on timber supply, the forests ministry long ago signalled to its managers, employees and the logging industry that it wasn’t watching to see if science-based objectives were being met—or any other nicety of “environmental sustainability” either. By the way, this idea of arbitrarily limiting the impact of conservation measures on timber supply wasn’t invented by Gordon Campbell’s Liberals. Under the 1990s NDP government that preceded the Liberals, provisions for protecting biodiversity were subject to a 4 to 4.3 percent cap on timber supply impact (2). Different government, same message, same reason: To ensure that conservation of non-timber values is undertaken in “balance” with economic benefits. You might be wondering: “What should the balance between logging and conservation have been?” Let me answer that question and that will lead us to the second part of BC’s Big Lie. Logging of primary forest near Prince George (Photo: Sean O’Rourke/Conservation North) If BC did have stringent, science-based regulation of logging, what should the balance between logging and conservation be? The basic consensus of provincial forest scientists back in the 1990s and early 2000s was that logging would not threaten biodiversity unduly if it mimicked natural disturbances. After all, nature itself eventually turns old forest into young forest: by blowing it down, burning it, infesting it with insects or infecting it with disease. If logging mirrored the rate at which old forest is naturally turned back into young forest, the scientists reasoned, then logging would present only a low risk of biodiversity loss. But it has turned out that the natural rate at which old forest is turned into young forest is much slower, and the areas impacted are smaller in size, than had been understood in the 1990s when land use planning for BC’s publicly-owned forests began. A 2003 study (3) by forest ecologist Dr. Karen Price and forester Dave Daust found that forests on Haida Gwaii and on the central mainland coast were disturbed far less frequently—and those disturbances involved much smaller areas—than forest scientists had previously understood. That finding meant that, in their natural state, BC forests would have contained a much higher percentage of old forest than had previously been estimated. If the rate of logging was going to mimic nature, then in order to protect biodiversity and other ecological values, a much higher percentage of old forest than government had planned to leave would need to be left for nature. For example, where I live on Quadra Island, the return interval for stand-replacing natural disturbances was estimated at 200 years in 2001 (Biodiversity Guidebook). The minimum old forest retention target on Quadra Island, based on that return interval, was 9 percent. But the 2020 Interim Assessment Protocol for Forest Biodiversity in British Columbia, which has built on Price’s, Daust’s and other forest scientists’ findings, now estimates the stand-replacing disturbance return interval on Quadra Island and surrounding area to be 700 years. It’s now estimated that old forest (greater than 250 years old) would have covered about 70 percent of the forested area of the island (4). According to other work (5) done by Price, Daust and forest ecologist Dr Rachel Holt, keeping the risk of biodiversity loss to “low” would mean maintaining at least 70 percent of that area of old forest. So at least 49 percent (70 percent of 70 percent) of the forested area of Quadra Island would need to be old forest to keep the risk of biodiversity loss to “low”—far above the 9 percent used as a guide to manage old forest there since 2001. On Quadra Island, the imposed “balance” of 94 to 6 in favour of economic use over conservation of old forest should have been more like 50-50. But under the current management regime, the area of old forest has been allowed to fall to just under 4 percent of the original forested area on Quadra Island (6). The impact of all those years of logging old forest far past the limits of ecological sustainability in BC has left us with a collapse in biodiversity and a critical need to draw lines around the remaining old forest. The most advanced forest scientists tell us we urgently need to implement our new science-based understanding of how much old forest is needed to protect biodiversity. We would do that by identifying suitable old forest, providing it with legal protection, and if that’s not enough, then recruiting the balance needed from mature second-growth forests in the timber harvesting land base. And that brings us to the second part of BC’s Big Lie: That the BC government has a reliable inventory of the provincial forest, and, in particular, the extent of old forest that remains, and where it is. Removal of primary forest in the Inland Temperate Rainforest (Photo: Mary Booth/Conservation North) Is the liquidation of primary forests in BC being carefully monitored? First, let’s consider why having a reliable inventory of old forest is essential. A New Future for Old Forests, the report of the Strategic Review of How British Columbia Manages for Old Forests Within its Ancient Ecosystems, appeared in September 2020. Since then the Ministry of Forests has struggled to implement temporary logging deferrals in some old-growth forests. One of the criticisms of the deferral process has been that logging has continued in old forests despite the deferrals. But there is an even more fundamental problem with the process: The Ministry of Forests doesn’t have a good understanding of how much old forest remains, or where it’s located. Yet an accurate assessment of each of these will be critical to the success of the current old-growth logging deferral process and Premier Eby’s promised doubling of protected areas by 2030. If an area is deferred because the ministry believes it contains old forest but it doesn’t, and another area that does contain old forest isn’t deferred, the process could end up being a pointless exercise in drawing meaningless lines on maps. To identify at-risk old forest, the deferral process has relied entirely on a Ministry of Forests’ inventory called the Vegetation Resource Inventory (VRI) that estimates, among other things, the age, site index and dominant tree species growing in almost every stand of BC’s publicly owned forests. The database is used in decisions about where to log and how much can be logged and it is held up by the Ministry of Forests as just one of the many powerful, science-based tools it has for managing the “sustainable” liquidation of old forest. But is VRI accurate? No. In terms of locating old forest, throwing a dart at a map would be just as accurate. Over the past four years, the Discovery Islands Forest Conservation Project has been mapping the remaining old forest on Quadra Island and other islands in the Discovery Islands area. Like the Ministry of Forests, the project uses analysis of satellite photography. But unlike VRI, the project complements satellite image analysis with local knowledge, extensive drone videography and, finally, on-the-ground confirmation that old forest is indeed present. There is very little similarity between the mapping of old forest being used by the Technical Advisory Panel (TAP) to identify old forest and the Discovery Islands project’s mapping of old forest. In general, VRI puts old forest where there isn’t any and misses the vast majority of actual old forest on Quadra Island. Of the 171 small fragments of old forest the project has mapped so far, only 19 of those overlap with areas in TAP’s Priority Deferral Map. Since the total area of old forest on Quadra Island is down to around 4 percent of the area of the original forest (6), old-forest-dependent biodiversity could hardly be at higher risk. All the remaining old forest needs to be deferred. Yet logging of old forest is still occurring on Quadra Island and the ministry’s inventory doesn’t even know it’s there. Priority deferral areas (solid green) on Quadra Island have little overlap with actual areas of old forest (outlined in yellow) found and mapped by the Discovery Islands Forest Conservation Project (click image to enlarge). One particular failure by VRI to identify old forest seems emblematic of its inaccuracy: The TAP Priority Deferral Map, using VRI, shows there are only two small remnants of “Ancient Forest” remaining on the Discovery Islands. TAP says that this is forest that has been “identified as over 400 years old”. The Discovery Islands Forest Conservation Project visited one of these two areas of “Ancient Forest”, a 5.7-hectare patch at Rosen Lake on Read Island. Unfortunately, this “Ancient Forest” had been logged sometime early in the 20th century and is now covered with second growth. On our visit we observed two or three large, old Douglas firs that undoubtedly were over 400 years old, rejected by the first loggers. Yet VRI showed the “projected age” of the forest as “833 years”. By the way, this area was in Read Island Provincial Park and is an Old Growth Management Area. So there was no need for it to be mapped as a priority deferral area. Perhaps even worse, though, a portion of the road into Rosen Lake was also given priority deferral. Just the road mind you, not the forest on either side of the road. Above: The forest at Rosen Lake, one of just two areas of “Ancient Forest” on the Discovery Islands, according to the Vegetation Resource Inventory. The inventory says it is 833 years old, but it had been logged in an era when loggers used spring boards, axes and crosscut saws. (Photo: David Broadland) On the other hand, the Discovery Islands Forest Conservation Project has identified several areas of “Ancient Forest” on Quadra Island that aren’t acknowledged in the VIR database. I have no reason to believe that VIR’s inaccuracy in predicting where old forest is on the Discovery Islands is any different from the province as a whole. To be fair, TAP warned that such errors were going to occur and that the Vegetation Resource Inventory would be the source of the inaccuracy. It’s not the deferral process that we need to be wary of. It’s the quality of the tools the Ministry of Forests has created to conduct its program of old forest liquidation that are the problem. They certainly don’t work for identifying old forest, but the problem is much larger than that. All timber supply reviews and allowable annual cut determinations in BC over the past 20 years have relied on the Vegetation Resource Inventory to predict the existing volumes of wood remaining in unmanaged forests. Yet the inventory is hopelessly inaccurate. I’ve written previously about the failure of the ministry’s growth and yield models to accurately predict growth and yield in managed plantations, its failure to incorporate uncertainty in its calculations, and its refusal to be guided by the precautionary principle. The ministry’s tools and operational choices seem ideally suited for producing self-delusion: The ministry has an unshakeable belief that it knows what it is doing and what the outcomes will be. But in 2021, a year of record market demand and high prices for BC wood products, what publicly owned forest could be found to log only amounted to 62 percent of what the ministry timber-supply experts had long predicted would be available. Is it a Big Lie—or just a Big Delusion? For BC’s “Big Lie” to meet the definition of a lie, the tellers of the lie must know that what they are saying is not true but say it anyway. There needs to be an intention to mislead. But did former Forests Minister Conroy know about the “unduly” clauses in BC’s forest legislation? Did the minister know about the 6 percent cap on the impact of conservation measures on timber supply? Did she know about the under-resourced Compliance and Enforcement branch and the failures of her ministry’s vaunted information technology? If she didn’t, then whenever she boasted about the “environmental sustainability” of BC’s logging industry, she wasn’t really telling a lie. She was merely suffering from an unshakable belief in something that’s untrue—a delusion. We can only hope that new Premier David Eby and new Forests Minister Bruce Ralston are neither liars nor prone to delusion. But only time will tell. David Broadland started working for the Discovery Islands Forest Conservation Project in 2018 and thinks other people would enjoy the experience of discovering old forest that—according to the Ministry of Forests—doesn’t exist. See more stories about the state of BC forests at evergreenalliance.ca
  4. A flawed Forest Practices Board investigation of logging of “old trees” at Hummingbird Lake on Quadra Island highlights the failure of 20-year-old land use planning that was supposed to resolve ongoing conflict between logging and conservation. IN JUNE 2022, the Forest Practices Board released an investigation report into a complaint about old trees being logged on a Quadra Island Woodlot Licence Program tenure. The investigation found that the tenure holder, Okisollo Resources, had complied with the legal requirements of its approved logging plan. The Board praised the logging company for “setting aside all of the existing old-growth stands by designating them as wildlife tree retention areas.” However, the investigation report contains serious factual errors, partly the result of the Board’s failure to ground-truth the descriptions of the forest and logging that were at issue. No investigators visited Quadra Island. Not the least among the errors was the Board’s assessment that Okisollo Resources had set aside “all of the existing old growth stands…” The report’s failings unintentionally highlight how thoroughly the landmark 2001 Vancouver Island Land Use Plan—which took nearly a decade to complete—has been circumvented by the Ministry of Forests. I contacted the Board and Okisollo Resources after the investigation report had been released. Because of the factual errors included in the report it’s difficult to make sense of the Board’s justification of its findings. So let’s begin with some facts I gathered even before a complaint was filed. Then we will compare that with what the Board says are the reasons for its findings. It just so happened that I had visited Hummingbird Lake with a drone in July 2018, one year before the logging took place. I returned again in July 2019 while the logging was taking place and a third time in June of 2020, after logging had been completed. Hummingbird Lake and surrounding forest in July 2018, as seen from a drone. On each visit, I photographed the area, both on the ground and using a drone for aerial views of the forest and lake. Over the past five years, as part of the Discovery Islands Forest Conservation Project, I have been surveying forests at dozens of locations on Quadra Island where it seems possible or likely that old-growth forest could be logged before it has been properly identified. Old forest at the peninsula on Hummingbird Lake. Okisollo Resources have reserved the right to log the old forest on the peninsula, yet claim to have reserved all existing old forest. On my 2018 visit, I could find no stumps or other evidence that would indicate the forest on the north side of Hummingbird Lake had ever been logged. The BC government’s record of road building in the province shows the north side of Hummingbird Lake had never been roaded before Okisollo Resources began logging in 2014. A forest fire in 1925 had lightly burned through the area, leaving the old trees intact. About 5 years after that fire, hemlock and fir began to grow back—naturally—between the big trees. All the evidence suggested that the north side of Hummingbird Lake was rare primary forest with big, old trees growing at a density that was at least equal to any other old forest I have surveyed on Quadra Island. The centre of the cutblock on the north side of Hummingbird Lake lies within half a kilometre of the boundaries of both Small Inlet Provincial Park and Octopus Islands Provincial Park. In other areas of the woodlot, Okisollo Resources has clear cut right to the edge of the parks. When I visited the logging operation in July 2019, roads had been built. There was a completed cutblock near the southwest corner of the lake where four old-growth Douglas firs still stood. Ten full-length tree trunks were lying beside the road into the second cutblock—all old-growth Douglas firs that had been removed to make way for the road. The new logging road built along the north side of Hummingbird Lake in July 2019. In a second cutblock on the north side of the lake, smaller-diameter hemlock and fir were in the process of being machine-felled (photo below). There were numerous large, old-growth Douglas firs and a few old cedars standing amongst the younger trees. It was unclear whether the dozens of old firs would be left standing or be felled. Every other tenure on Quadra Island leaves these big trees standing. I had never seen so many big trees in the middle of a Quadra Island logging operation. Okisollo Resources’ logging of old forest on the north side of Hummingbird Lake in July 2019. This photo, taken in 2020, shows the same area as in the photo above. I revisited the area in June 2020. Logging had been completed in the cutblock on the north side of Hummingbird Lake. Most of the old trees had been felled in both cutblocks. Along an edge of the northern cutblock, about 15 old vets still stood, testimony to the density of the grove that had just been cut. A line of old-growth Douglas fir vets was left along the edge of Okisollo Resource’s clearcut on the north side of Hummingbird Lake. I photographed the northern block where several large-diameter logs had been left beside the road. The growth rings of a recently live tree showed it had been 370 years old when it was cut. Several dead snags had also been cut and were stacked or scattered across the cutblock. This Douglas fir had 370 annual growth rings. To determine how many old firs had been logged in the northern cutblock, I searched for satellite images taken in mid-August 2019. The image below shows logging in progress in the second cutblock on August 15, 2019. At least 50 old-growth trees remained standing on this day. The smaller-diameter hemlock had all been cut, stacked and were being removed. The satellite image below was taken a few weeks later. Of the 50 old-growth trees that had been standing (see photo above), only 15 remained. In the cutblock at the southwest end of the lake, at least four old-growth firs that had been standing in the otherwise bare clearcut in July 2019 had been felled by mid-August. My photographs and notes, when combined with the satellite images, show that of approximately 64 old trees in the two cutblocks and the road, at least 50 were cut. The 3-hectare cutblock north of the lake had contained at least 55 live, old-growth trees and an unknown number of standing snags. The Ministry of Forests’ Harvest Billing System, which records the volume logged and the stumpage paid for trees cut on public land, shows that Okisollo Resources paid at most $3800 in stumpage for the 50-plus old-growth Douglas fir trees it felled in July and August of 2019. That’s roughly $760 per tree. That’s what actually happened at Hummingbird Lake in July and August of 2019. Now let’s return to the Forest Practices Board’s investigation report. The report gives the following chronological account of who did what and when they did it. The “complainant” was long-time Quadra Island resident Rod Burns: “In the spring of 2020, a Quadra Island resident (the complainant) noticed that old trees had been harvested in woodlot licence W2031. The complainant believed that the woodlot licensee was not permitted to harvest old trees, therefore filed a complaint with the Compliance and Enforcement Branch (CEB) of the Ministry of Forests in the spring of 2021. CEB looked into the matter and found that the licensee had harvested the old trees legally. When the complainant learned this, he filed a complaint with the Forest Practices Board on February 14, 2022, asserting that government enforcement was inappropriate.” Neither the Compliance and Enforcement Branch or the Forest Practices Board sent investigators to Quadra Island. Nevertheless, the Board released its investigation report in June 2022. From a drone, the areas of old forest on Hummingbird Mountain are easily visible. Since this photo was taken in 2020, additional logging has occurred. Hidden in plain sight: old-growth forest The Forest Practices Board found that 10 old trees had been cut and “the old trees were not set aside from logging. The licensee removed the trees to build a road and for safety reasons.” This was at odds with what I had seen. I asked Chris Oman, the Board’s director of investigations, how investigators had determined that old trees had only been cut “to build a road and for safety reasons.” After all, by the Board’s own admission, no investigator from either the Compliance and Enforcement Branch or the Forest Practices Board had even set foot on Quadra Island. As far as the Board knew, only 10 trees had been cut. How did the Board conclude that those 10 trees were cut “to build a road and for safety reasons”? Oman did not answer that question. But it would appear that investigators simply accepted Okisollo Resources’ assurance that this was the case. In response to questions I put to Chantal Blumel, a registered professional forester and a principal of Okisollo Resources, Ms Blumel stated: “We removed some of the old trees during the harvest of the second growth stands, for safety and access purposes.” There is no dispute that some old trees were removed for building the roads. Above, I estimated that at least 10 had been removed because they were in the way of the road. But was safety really an issue? The Occupational Health and Safety Regulation of BC’s Workers Compensation Act states: “If work in a forestry operation will expose a worker to a dangerous tree, the tree must be removed.” At the Hummingbird Lake cutblock, all of the smaller-diameter trees had already been removed several days before approximately 35 larger old-growth Douglas firs were felled. That can be seen in the satellite images. Those old trees did not have to be logged for either “safety” or “access” purposes. This apparent willingness of Forest Practices Board investigators to parrot the logging company’s position when it had no evidence to do so raises questions about the independent nature of the Board’s other findings. For example, consider the question of whether the 50 old trees that Okisollo Resources logged at Hummingbird Lake were under any existing protection from logging as a result of the Vancouver Island Land Use Plan, as Burns had believed. This is a difficult and complex question, one that the Forest Practices Board addressed superficially, but, at the same time, with remarkable creativity. The Board’s report dismissed the role the Vancouver Island Land Use Plan has played in guiding protection of old-growth trees and forest on Quadra Island by referencing a speech a forests minister had once made about woodlots. Instead of providing factual information, the Board invented a “Quadra landscape unit” to explain how old growth is managed. I asked the Board to send me any written documentation it had that explained what the “Quadra landscape unit” is. The Board did not acknowledge the request. There is no such thing as the “Quadra landscape unit.” It has long been promised, but has never materialized. A more useful consideration of whether the old trees at Hummingbird Lake had any protection would have required a detailed investigation into what Okisollo Resources had committed to in its official, approved Woodlot Plan, and why. What had it committed to do? The Forest Practices Board’s reading of Okisollo’s plan led investigators to conclude: “In their [Woodlot Plan], they committed to setting aside all of the existing old-growth stands by designating them as wildlife tree retention areas.” Why would Okisollo have done that? A little history is needed. A Woodlot Licence Program tenure was awarded to Okisollo Resources in 2011. But 10 years before that, all of the old forest at Hummingbird Lake had been protected under the provisions of Special Management Zone 19, which had been created by the Vancouver Island Land Use Plan. Over 12,000 hectares of public land on Quadra Island had been given that special status. Why had that protection been granted? In 2001, it was well known that the area of old-growth forest in the “Coastal Western Hemlock very dry maritime” biogeoclimatic zone (which includes most of the area of the Discovery Islands) had fallen to about 9 percent of the zone’s total area. Forest biologists and ecologists had determined that if the area of old forest fell below 10 percent of the total area of the zone, the risk of biodiversity loss in that biogeoclimatic zone would be high. To conserve the remaining biodiversity associated with the Coastal Western Hemlock zone, and to map a course toward restoration of old forest to a higher percentage, the Vancouver Island Land Use Plan recommended a specific strategy for Quadra Island. (Quadra was one of only two of the 19 forest-based special management zones where a strategy for biodiversity conservation was detailed.) In practice, that meant protecting all of the remaining “old” forest (defined as greater than 250 years old) since that had fallen below 10 percent, and managing future logging so that there would always be at least 25 percent of the forested area covered with “mature” forest (defined as greater than 80 years old). The most critical recommendation in that strategy is captured in a single sentence: “maintain existing old forest in the zone, as well as second growth with [a] high portion of veteran trees...” The old trees and old forest that were logged at Hummingbird Lake met both of those descriptions. So as of 2001, the old trees and old forest at Hummingbird Lake had been protected. Beginning in 2005, however, the Campbell River district office of the Ministry of Forests began to locate Woodlot Licence Program tenures in Special Management Zone 19. Under forest legislation passed in 2002, woodlots did not need to meet certain objectives established by government. That exemption included objectives like conservation of Quadra’s old forest and second-growth forest that had a high portion of old trees. So establishing woodlots in SMZ 19 would have made it legal to go backward in the effort to conserve old forest and old trees at places like Hummingbird Lake. By the way, the 11 Woodlot Licence tenures that were created or expanded in Special Management Zone 19 on Quadra Island, from 2005 onward, were the only woodlots created in any of Vancouver Island’s 19 forest-based special management zones. Almost all of the new Quadra Island woodlots choose to honour most of the previous obligations to protect old forest and old trees that had existed before woodlots were dropped on SMZ 19. For example, the official plan for Woodlot 2032, established at the same time as Okisollo Resources’ Woodlot 2031 at Hummingbird Lake, stated that it would avoid logging all old-growth trees and old forest. Did Okisollo Resources make that commitment? In its Woodlot Licence Plan, its strategy for conserving biodiversity included these words: “Retaining the existing old growth forests is key to maintaining the biodiversity values of forests in the CWHxm biogeoclimatic subzone.” That sounds like a commitment to retain existing old growth forests. Indeed, the Forest Practices Board noted—four times—in its investigation report, that “In their WLP, they committed to setting aside all of the existing old-growth stands by designating them as wildlife tree retention areas.” The words that a would-be woodlot tenure holder uses in their Woodlot Licence Plan have legal consequences. Section 21(1) of the Forest and Ranges Practices Act states: “The holder of a forest stewardship plan or a woodlot licence plan must ensure that the intended results specified in the plan are achieved and the strategies described in the plan are carried out.” But here’s the problem: Okisollo Resources said it would retain all existing old forest, but its map of where old forest exists doesn’t match where old forest actually exists. Like at Hummingbird Lake. Okisollo Resources logging in old-growth forest at Hummingbird Lake in 2019. A map in Okisollo Resources’ approved Woodlot Plan referenced three small areas that a forester had identified as containing old forest in 2007 using the Ministry of Forests’ notoriously inaccurate Vegetation Resource Inventory. It is notorious because it fails miserably at identifying old-growth forest, and that has been an ongoing problem in BC. Okisollo’s map shows only three tiny areas of old forest. The total area of that old forest is a mere 15.1 hectares—only 2 percent of the woodlot’s 715 hectares. If that was an accurate assessment, the amount of old forest left would be at an even lower level than the high-risk 9 percent estimated by forest ecologists for this biogeoclimatic zone in 2001. If Okisollo’s map was accurate, the need to “maintain existing old forest in the zone, as well as second growth with [a] high portion of veteran trees...” would be even more urgent. In any case, there appears to be nothing in the legislation governing woodlots that would allow a map that fails to indicate accurately where old forest is located to overide a strategy that states existing old forest will be retained. Yet the Board’s findings depended entirely on the faulty map. I requested a copy of the inventory used to identify areas of old forest in the woodlot, which Okisollo Resources says had been created for the Ministry of Forests in 2007. Okisollo declined to make the inventory available. Ms Blumel stated that the primary forest her company logged at Hummingbird Lake is not old forest but “scattered old trees” in “second-growth stands.” “Second-growth stands” implies an area that has been previously logged. In an old, primary forest on Quadra Island, regrowth of younger trees below the old-growth canopy after a fire is a natural process, no matter how dense or commercially attractive that regrowth appears to be. The regrowth’s presence does not cancel out the biological values of the old forest it’s growing in. Blumel did not respond to questions about whether or not, during road building and logging at Hummingbird Lake, the company had encountered any sign—like old stumps and roads—of previous logging. So, what is the true nature of the forest that was logged at Hummingbird Lake? Was it old forest? Helpfully, the Board’s investigation report included the definition it uses. The report stated: “When we refer to old-growth forests in this report, we mean stands in BC’s coastal forests that are older than 250 years, structurally complex with large old living trees, and that have large dead snags, fallen dead trees and multi-layered canopies.” The image below shows what the forest on the north side of Hummingbird Lake looked like in 2018 from above the lake, before logging took place. The forest that is about to be cut is on the right side of the photograph. You can see many living Douglas firs with dead tops, a good indication of great age, a fact confirmed on the ground by growth ring counts of trees cut by Okisollo Resources. There are also standing dead snags visible and a multi-layered canopy with younger hemlock and fir far below the tops of the old-growth. You can’t see them, but on the forest floor are numerous fallen dead trees. On each of my visits I found plants and animals associated with old forest, including Northern Red-legged Frog, Wandering Salamander, Osprey, and One-flowered Wintergreen. This is as “structurally complex” a stand of old-growth forest as I have seen on Quadra Island. The west end of Hummingbird Lake in 2018. There’s much more of this old forest in Woodlot 2031, none of it identified in Okisollo Resources’ official map. Below is a photograph of Hummingbird Lake looking toward the east end of the lake from just above where Okisollo Resource’s 2019 cutblock ends. Most of the forest visible around the lake is primary forest, including old-growth Douglas fir. None of it has been mapped as old forest. The view of Hummingbird Lake and surrounding old forest looking east from approximately where Okisollo Resources’ logging reached in 2019. It is also revealing to compare the biological productivity of the extensive existing old forest around Hummingbird Lake with the three small areas Okisollo Resources has mapped as “biodiversity reserves.” The photograph below shows one of those three reserves, this one at the top and on the steep slopes of Wolf Mountain. The forest at the top can’t be logged because it is in a protected viewscape. When the Forest Practices Board praised Okisollo for reserving this forest “even though it didn’t have to,” the Board was wrong. Okisollo had to. But as a biodiversity reserve, how does it compare with the old forest removed by the cutblock at Hummingbird Lake? The 5.5-hectare reserve on top of Wolf Mountain is shown in the 2007 inventory as having a site index of 11. That means that because of conditions on the top of that hill, trees would be expected to grow to a height of 11 metres over a 50-year period. On Quadra Island, this is a low productivity site. Such forests support a lower level of biodiversity than more productive forests. Wolf Mountain. A portion of the top of the hill and the cliff has been reserved from logging by Okisollo Resources. On the other hand, the 2007 inventory estimated that the site index at the Hummingbird Lake cutblock is 24. Site index doesn’t get a lot higher than that on Quadra Island. Such sites are capable of growing big, old trees and they support a higher level of biodiversity. Moreover, big old trees beside a lake support an even higher level of biodiversity, much higher than the small old trees at the top of Wolf Mountain. The Forest Practices Board investigation failed to even show up on Quadra Island, let alone carefully consider all the evidence and follow it wherever it might lead. But the deeper failure in this case traces back to the Ministry of Forests’ decision in 2005 to introduce Woodlot Licence tenures into a special management zone. That didn’t happen in any other special management zone created by the Vancouver Island Land Use Plan. It was only by the voluntary compliance of woodlot tenure holders that progress could be made toward meeting the plan’s old forest objectives. Now, at least one of those tenure holders—Okisollo Resources—has decided not to comply. If it is successful at going backward, other tenure holders could follow. In a recent Forest Practices Board investigation of a complaint about logging in Special Management Zone 13 in the Nahmint Valley, the Board criticized BC Timber Sales for failing to meet the obligations imposed by the Vancouver Island Land Use Plan. In that case, the Board stated: “The public needs to be confident that objectives established in land use plans will actually be carried through and implemented in forestry operations.” At least the Board got that right. See more about logging on the Discovery Islands at the Discovery Islands Forest Conservation Project Learn more about the problems created by clearcut logging in BC at the Evergreen Alliance website Related information: Forest Practices Board investigation report Information about Woodlot 2031 Vancouver Island Land Use Plan documents
  5. In the last two years, the cost of hidden subsidization of BC’s logging industry has been greater than the industry’s contribution to BC’s GDP. And it's going to get worse. IN 2020 I WROTE A STORY titled “Forestry doesn’t pay the bills, folks.” It looked at the costs and revenues of the ministry of forests over a 10-year period and found that, over that time, the ministry spent about a million dollars a day more than it took in through stumpage revenue and the BC Logging Tax. While many people appreciated that analysis, others found it flawed. The skeptics noted that costs were based on entire ministry costs, not just forest-related costs. The Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, they believed, had many costs that were not related to forest management. Take those out and the picture would change, they hoped. Others noted that my analysis didn’t include export, corporate or municipal taxes paid by forestry companies or the income taxes paid by forestry workers, and so forth. Others observed that the analysis didn’t include costs such as the $24 million paid by the community of Peachland, which needed to install an expensive water treatment facility to take out the sediment that clearcut logging has introduced to its watershed; it didn’t include the estimated $100 million cost to the community of Grand Forks where flooding attributed to logging in the Kettle and Granby watersheds has cost people their homes and overturned their lives. Nor did it include the cost of fisheries lost as a result of increased sedimentation and rising water temperatures caused by clearcutting over 250,000 hectares of forest each year. And so on. In other words, there were two kinds of objections: 1. You didn’t credit the forest industry for all the revenue it provides for government, and 2. You didn’t include all the costs. This is an update of my first analysis, starting with the objections about not including all the revenue to government that the forest industry generates. I am interested in your objections to this report. I’ll include them when I update this story down the road. So let’s start with a brief reexamination of the numbers in my first report. The forest management subsidy Although the ministry publishes an Annual Service Report that provides generalized breakdowns of costs and revenues, it doesn’t specify which are forest-related expenses and revenues. So I filed FOIs with the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development aimed at clarifying what ministry revenue and expenses were forest-related. The documents released (attached at end of story) show the vast majority of its expenses are forest-related. The ministry’s account of its forest revenues increased the value of those revenues slightly over what I had estimated from their Annual Service Plans. In the graph below I show the net deficit for each year, 2010 to 2019. The cumulative operating deficit of the ministry over 10 years was $3.44 billion rather than the $3.65 billion identified in my earlier story. That works out to $942,466 a day. Taxes paid by workers and corporations don’t pay ministry bills, they pay for services used So what about the question of the personal income taxes paid by forestry workers and the municipal and corporate taxes paid by forest companies? Shouldn’t those be included, somehow, in determining whether “forestry pays the bills”? The ministry of forests, of course, doesn’t include corporate or municipal taxes paid by forestry companies or the income taxes paid by forestry workers in its reckoning of revenue, and for good reason. In each case, the taxes collected by some level of government, like municipal taxes collected from a sawmill operating within a municipality, or income taxes collected from a feller-buncher operator in Quesnel, go to pay for a host of services provided by that government that have nothing to do with the ministry of forests. These are services that are consumed, in part, by that sawmill or that feller-buncher operator. For example, the healthcare services provided to residents of a community with a mill operating in it are paid for by such revenue streams as corporate and income taxes. When the feller-buncher operator needs a hip replacement as a result of a work-related injury, the cost of that surgery is paid for by such government revenue streams. When the home of the head sawyer at the local sawmill is burglarized, the police that investigate are paid for by such revenue streams. The mill manager’s children are educated in a school that is partly funded by property taxes collected by the municipality, including from the mill. Forestry workers, and the companies they work for, aren’t just paying for government services through their taxes. Like the rest of us, they are also consumers of those services. Their taxes pay for their own use of myriad government services, just like every other kind of taxpayer. By the way, for various reasons, people who live in forestry-dependent communities have notoriously high health costs compared with urban populations. In general, all the arguments from the forest industry and its supporters about how much they contribute to the provincial economy are half true; they always fail to include in their analysis all the costs to government that are incurred to keep them housed, warm, fed, clothed, educated, employed, policed, healthy, mobile, governed and defended from enemies, both internal and external. The same principle applies to corporate income taxes. Those taxes go to pay for a host of government services those corporations consume, as well as the cost of the burdens their operations impose on the rest of the community. All workers and corporations in BC pay taxes, not just forest industry workers and corporations. In fact, in 2019, 98.2 percent of the workers in BC who paid taxes were not forest industry workers. Only a tiny fraction of BC companies that paid corporate income taxes were forestry companies. Another aspect of the ministry’s costs that people questioned was the “direct fire management” cost, the cost of fighting forest fires. To what extent is this cost actually attributable to the logging industry? All of BC’s largest fires in 2021 included large areas of clearcuts and plantations. Those clearcuts and plantations raise fire hazard to “high” for up to 30 years. They create fuel conditions in which fires are easier to ignite and harder to control, and so we are experiencing larger fires more frequently than would be the case had there been no logging. Moreover, much of the money spent fighting those fires is paid to logging companies and allied businesses. The logging industry needs to man-up and acknowledge its role in causing and benefitting from these fires. Forest fires destroy structures, damage community economies, harm human health and kill people. None of those costs have been included in the ministry’s accounting of “direct fire management costs,” and so attributing all of the ministry’s cost of fighting forest fires to the logging industry is likely a significant undercount of the true costs. Now let’s consider some of the costs I left out of my first analysis. Here, there’s plenty of room for improvement over my previous assessment. What constitutes a subsidy? First off, let’s define the term “subsidy.” The World Trade Organization does that in detail. Here, I paraphrase that organization’s definition of “subsidy.” A subsidy is deemed to exist when a government makes a direct transfer of funds; or government revenue that is due is foregone or not collected; or a government provides goods or services other than general infrastructure; or a government makes payments to a private body to carry out the type of functions that would normally be vested in government; and, as a result of any or all of these circumstances, a benefit is thereby conferred to an industry. The “forest management subsidy” illustrated in the graph above is an example of government revenue that is due but not collected. The BC government sets stumpage rates, yet those stumpage rates—even after all other sources of forest revenue are included—consistently do not cover the ministry’s operational costs for managing the industry’s operations on public land. As a result of the BC government’s failure to require the logging industry to pay for the cost of managing forest removal on public land, a benefit is conferred to the industry. That constitutes a public subsidy of the industry. Public subsidization of the forest industry’s consumption of electricity Now let’s consider other benefits conferred on the forest industry, starting with public subsidization of the electricity it consumes. Over the 10-year period for which we gathered data, the public subsidization of the cost of electricity used by forest companies amounted to $5.1 billion. You won’t find a record of this public subsidy anywhere in the forest industry’s or the ministry of forests’ public accounts of their operations. It occurs entirely as a result of BC Hydro’s inequitable rate structure. Here’s how we calculated it: Residential consumers of electricity in BC—who, as a class, are BC Hydro’s largest customer—pay a two-tiered rate for electricity. If a residential customer keeps their consumption to less than 675 kilowatt-hours per month, they pay 9.3 cents per kilowatt-hour. If they go over 675 kilowatt-hours, they pay 13.94 cents per kilowatt-hour. The principle applied to residential consumers is this: If you consume more than a set amount, you pay a higher rate. BC Hydro uses this strategy in order to encourage consumers to conserve electricity. Why? Because supplying additional capacity is very expensive. Consider the estimated $16 billion cost of Site C to understand just how expensive supplying additional capacity can be. But this principle of applying a higher rate for higher consumption is flipped on its head when it comes to forest industry consumers of electricity. BC Hydro’s current rate for “Large General Service” users—those customers whose average monthly consumption is at least 45,833 kilowatt-hours, and that would include all BC pulp and paper mills and virtually all sawmills and veneer/panel mills—is currently 5.96 cents per kilowatt-hour, no matter how much electricity is consumed. If a mill uses less than 45,833 kilowatt-hours, they pay a higher rate. Why wouldn’t the same principle of higher rates for higher levels of consumption be applied to the forest industry if the rationale for higher rates for consumers is to get them to conserve expensive capacity? Over the last 5 years, the forest industry has consumed an average of 6000 gigawatt-hours per year of BC Hydro’s output. Site C will generate 5100 gigawatt-hours of electricity per year. If the forest industry consumes the equivalent of Site C’s capacity, why aren’t there rates in place that would encourage industry consumers, like residential consumers, to conserve? And why should the industry pay less in any case? This preferential treatment amounts to a public subsidy. The magnitude of the subsidy can be determined from the difference in the rates for residential consumers and forest industry consumers. Since BC Hydro does not apply the same principle to forest product mills as it applies to residential consumers, the forest industry is being subsidized by BC Hydro residential consumers. That subsidy amounted to 4.81 cents per kilowatt-hour in 2010 and rose to 7.98 cents per kilowatt-hour by 2020. We obtained records through an FOI request for BC Hydro records that show the electrical energy consumption of BC forest industry companies for 5 years in that 10-year period (attached at the end of the story). Based on those numbers, and other data that allowed extrapolation for the years we didn’t have, we calculated that the public subsidization of the forest industry’s use of electricity amounted to $5.1 billion. Some of you will question whether the lower electricity rates given to the forest industry by publicly owned BC Hydro can actually be considered a public subsidy. You might point to WTO rulings in the Softwood Lumber Dispute regarding US claims that two BC forest companies were paid excessive rates for electrical energy they sold to BC Hydro. Those claims were rejected by the WTO, but not because differences in electricity rates can’t constitute a subsidy. The resolution of that issue by the WTO, in fact, confirms that electrical rates can constitute a subsidy. But the WTO’s mandate isn’t to consider the public interest. It’s only interest is in promoting international trade. For the average British Columbian, who has long been told by the industry and its promoters that “forestry pays the bills, folks,” the important issue is how much of the logging industry’s electricity bills are actually being paid by the excessively high rates of ordinary folks. Over the past ten years that has amounted to $5.1 billion. Public subsidization of the forest industry’s release of forest carbon emissions When an area of BC forest is clearcut, it is immediately transformed from being a carbon sink into a carbon source. While the forest industry and its supporters argue that the carbon in all forests will eventually return to the atmosphere anyway, the acceleration of this return caused by clearcutting creates an immense surge in carbon emissions that would never have occurred naturally, especially in the time frame in which this is occurring. Moreover, turning primary forests into plantations, where the intention is to log the plantation in 45 to 80 years, creates a large carbon debt that will never be repaid. Carbon that enters the atmosphere as a result of the forest industry’s activities has the same physical effect as carbon coming from a car’s tailpipe; they both cause global heating. In response to the climate emergency, the BC government introduced a carbon tax in 2008 which applied only to fossil fuels. The BC government acknowledged that carbon emissions needed to be reduced in order to avoid damage that could be expected as the result of climate change. They were thinking of such events as those that overwhelmed BC in mid November 2021, in which communities were flooded and transportation infrastructure was badly damaged. The fires in the summer of 2021 caused similar losses, with Lytton burned to the ground. These events will be very costly to BC taxpayers. By not applying the Carbon Tax to the forest industry’s forest-removal activities—which cause far greater carbon emissions than the burning of hydrocarbon fuels in BC—a financial benefit was conferred on the forest industry. That is, the public is subsidizing the forest industry’s carbon emissions. For the period 2010 to 2020, that subsidy is shown in the graph below: We calculated this subsidy based on the rate of the Carbon Tax for each year and the estimated biomass of forest removed in each of those years. We used the ministry of forests’ Harvest Billing System to determine the volume of logs removed from public land for each of the 10 years, and used the results of a scientific study conducted by Suzanne Simard and Jean Roach to estimate the original forest biomass those logs came from. The summary of how that biomass was estimated can be found here. We determined the value of annual forest carbon emissions by using the value of the BC Carbon Tax that was applicable in each of the 10 years. The total 10-year value of carbon emissions subsidization was $31.5 billion, or an average of $3.15 billion per year. In 2019, the BC Carbon Tax was $40 per metric tonne. Since the carbon tax is set to increase to $170 per tonne by 2030, this annual subsidy will rapidly increase in size. Public subsidization of the loss of carbon sequestration capacity caused by the forest industry Lastly, we calculated the subsidy related to the loss of carbon sequestration capacity caused by logging in the period 2010 to 2019. To calculate this subsidy we used the Province’s own account of net carbon sequestration capacity loss and the applicable level of the Carbon Tax for each of those years. Through the 1990s the province’s carbon sequestration capacity—the net amount of carbon BC forests could take out of the atmosphere each year—held relatively steady at about 90 million tonnes of CO2-equivalent. Beginning in 1999, as a result of logging and forest loss from other causes, the capacity of BC forests began to fall. The Province has estimated that capacity each year. Here’s what that decline looks like: To calculate the cumulative amount of this loss, we used the difference between the level in the 1990s and the level estimated by the Province for each year between 2010 and 2019. We then calculated a dollar value for the carbon sequestration that didn’t occur each year, using the value of the Carbon Tax that was applicable in each of those years. That totalled close to $22 billion over 10 years. How much of this should be attributable to logging and how much to the Mountain Pine Beetle and forest fires? We compared the volume of forest lost to each since 1999 and found that logging accounted for about 60 percent of the total forest loss. To be on the conservative side, we dropped this to 50 percent. So we attributed one-half of the cumulative monetary cost of carbon sequestration loss over the period 2010 to 2019 to logging—$11 billion. For those of you who don’t think this is a real cost, consider the efforts of Carbon Engineering, the Squamish-headquartered clean tech company that has created a machine that removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere—like trees do—and turns that into a hydrocarbon fuel. The goal of the company is to build equipment that can do that at a cost of $100 per tonne. The company’s efforts have attracted investors and media attention from around the planet. The function of Carbon Engineering’s machine amounts to what trees do naturally—for free. In our calculation of the value of lost carbon sequestration capacity, we used Carbon Tax values ranging from $20 in 2010 to $40 in 2019. But at $100 per tonne—Carbon Engineering’s ultimate target—the cost to the forest industry for causing the loss of just this one forest function would be valued at $36 billion over a 10-year period. As noted above, the carbon tax is set to increase to $170 per tonne by 2030, so like the carbon emissions subsidy, the annual carbon sequestration subsidy will rapidly increase in size. If someone destroyed one of Carbon Engineerings’ privately-owned machines, there would be a huge bill to pay. But a logging company destroying a publicly-owned forest that provides exactly the same function? Well the public is paying the logging companies, through the various subsidies outlined here, to do just that. The total cost of all these subsidies is astounding. The graph below shows the total cost by year. The cumulative cost of just these four subsidies is $50.6 billion over those 10 years. The last thing to show you is how the total cost of these subsidies compares with the GDP of the forest industry, which is calculated by the provincial government. You can see in the graph below that in the last two years, the cost of the subsidies is actually greater than the industry’s contribution to BC’s GDP. This may now be a permanent condition since the largest of these subsidies are based on the value of carbon, which is rapidly rising. In 2019 it was $40 per tonne. By 2030 this will rise to $170 per tonne. At that point public subsidization of the forest industry will far exceed the industry’s contribution to GDP. Unless, of course, the provincial government’s approach to managing BC forests begins to recognize the role BC’s forests must play in mitigating climate change. The bottom line, though, is that forestry doesn’t pay the bills, folks. You pay the logging industry’s bills. In the next iteration of this story, we will consider the cash subsidies taxpayers provide the logging industry—like the Bridge to Retirement program and the BC Forest Enhancement Society—as well as offer an estimate of the cost of damage done to communities and public infrastructure by the floods and fires that have been, in part, caused by BC’s over-exploitation of its forests. David Broadland invites readers who want to know more about the over-exploitation of publicly owned forests in BC to visit the Evergreen Alliance. BC Hydro response to FOI request for energy consumption by forest industry 2021-232_Records.pdf Forests ministry response to FOI request FNR-2021-10554.pdf Forests ministry response to request for records of forest-related revenue and costs FNR-2020-07123 records.pdf
  6. Hi David, I wrote an update on this story in 2021. It updates the forest management subsidy and also considers costs that aren't considered in this story. You can find that here: https://www.evergreenalliance.ca/portal-the-true-cost-of-subsidies-provided-to-the-logging-industry/2/ There are documents at the end of that story that include ministry of forests breakdowns of forests-related revenue and expenses, and BC Hydro revenues from logging/milling companies, both obtained by FOI. Source documents for the story above include past BC Budgets and the ministry's annual service reports: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/governments/organizational-structure/ministries-organizations/ministries/forests-lands-natural-resource-operations-and-rural-development/annual-report
  7. Hi David, I wrote an update on this story in 2021. It updates the forest management subsidy and also considers costs that aren't considered in this story. You can find that here: https://www.evergreenalliance.ca/portal-the-true-cost-of-subsidies-provided-to-the-logging-industry/2/ There are documents at the end of that story that include ministry of forests breakdowns of forests-related revenue and expenses, and BC Hydro revenues from logging/milling companies, both obtained by FOI. Source documents for the story above include past BC Budgets and the ministry's annual service reports: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/governments/organizational-structure/ministries-organizations/ministries/forests-lands-natural-resource-operations-and-rural-development/annual-report
  8. Thanks for your comment, Retired. And welcome to the FOCUS forests community. If that image was from 1999 (it isn't), it would look a lot worse now. A large volume of logging took place in this area around Prince George starting in 2010. Ostensibly, that logging was permitted to salvage beetle-killed pine, but the logging companies were permitted to go way beyond that. In the Prince George area, about 41 percent of logging that occurred since 2010 has been salvage logging. I would suggest you use Google's Earth's time lapse generator to see for yourself what state BC's forests are in. It will take you right up to 2020. If you're not shocked, you're not breathing. Google images are often multi-year images, with different years represented in different parts of a single image. I imagine the image used in this story is one of those multi-year images. I suggest you zoom in. By the way, I will be publishing an update of this story in a couple of days.
  9. Thanks for your comment, Retired. And welcome to the FOCUS forests community. If that image was from 1999 (it isn't), it would look a lot worse now. A large volume of logging took place in this area around Prince George starting in 2010. Ostensibly, that logging was permitted to salvage beetle-killed pine, but the logging companies were permitted to go way beyond that. In the Prince George area, about 41 percent of logging that occurred since 2010 has been salvage logging. I would suggest you use Google's Earth's time lapse generator to see for yourself what state BC's forests are in. It will take you right up to 2020. If you're not shocked, you're not breathing. Google images are often multi-year images, with different years represented in different parts of a single image. I imagine the image used in this story is one of those multi-year images. I suggest you zoom in. By the way, I will be publishing an update of this story in a couple of days.
  10. Great story Ben! It's weird that all the ministry has is a paper record. By 2006 they had the Harvest Billing System, which was completely digital from the start. I doubt the ministry has any useful record on the bonus logging at all. Or, if there was, it has been pelletized rather than digitized. To give folks a feel for the primary forests these companies are cutting for pellets, Conservation North released a dramatic video today:
  11. Forest analyst Marvin Eng has brought forward useful information, including updates on the amount of precipitation that fell in Lytton and Merritt, which has been incorporated in the story. Marvin reminded me about the "Great Coastal Storm" event in early December 2007 which struck BC, Washington and Oregon. Over a 2-day period in that event, Lytton recorded 139.7 mm of precipitation. 106.9 of that occurred on December 04. Yet the Tank Hill Underpass survived. Similarly, Merritt received 36 millimetres over two days during that 2007 event compared with 31.4 millimetres over 2 days in 2021. Yet no flooding occurred in 2007. Soon after 2007, logging in the watersheds above Merritt—the Coldwater, Nicola and Clapperton—all accelerated.
  12. Hi Kevin, Thanks for joining us and for your comments in your two posts. To help the ministry and political officials change their minds about the dire direction they are taking us, I believe its vital for those with long experience in the ministry to give voice to their doubts. Thank you for coming forward.
  13. Mike, thanks for your comments. I agree with you that we need to work together to figure out what the problems are. After having spent so much time looking at satellite images of the state of BC's forests in the southern half of the province, and seeing so many photographs taken on the ground of the devastation that has occurred since 2010, I can't agree with you that what has happened is anything remotely like "sustainable."
  14. Yes. I think a concerted effort needs to be made to obtain records from the ministry through FOI requests and thereby determine who approved what, and what was said by the companies and their foresters and the ministry officials who approved the cutting permits. The FOI process is not working well right now, so this will take some time and patience. I have FOIed communications for specific cutblocks (not related to the floods) in the past and have been shocked at the casual exchange of information between a forester and the District office involved. No serious questions were asked.
  15. BCTS doesn’t do the actual logging. It lays out the cutblocks, contracts out the roadbuilding and then auctions off the licence to cut. The volumes BCTS auctions, after they are cut and scaled, show up on the Harvest Billing System volumes under the name of the company which won the bid. We use a company's HBS volumes to work back to the total biomass that was killed to derive that company's emissions.
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