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David Broadland

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Navigating through pandemonium

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Everything posted by David Broadland

  1. Yes, this is helpful. I am trying to determine how much of the difference can be accounted for by the additional costs that area-based tenures have. If you have professional experience on this question and can provide relevant information, please contact me at focuspublish@shaw.ca.
  2. Thank you for your reply. No, I am not arguing that government management of BC forests should be profitable. I am suggesting that claims that forestry "pays the bills" in this province are no longer valid. I am arguing, along with a lot of other voices in BC, that it is time to consider managing the forest in the Timber Harvesting Land Base for a broader spectrum of values than, in effect, just timber. In this era of governments declaring a climate emergency and acknowledging an ongoing collapse in biodiversity, it's long past time to acknowledge that the forest industry is doing harm, harm that can no longer be justified in terms of the dollars the industry generates in our economy. As for including other benefits in a cost-benefit analysis of the ministry's operations, I think we need to start with the assumption that employment in small communities is one of the values that government would protect as it adjusted the allowable cut downwards. The logging industry wouldn't disappear, it would be downsized, and employment shifted to other needs that would likely be forest-dependent, just not forest-destruction dependent. No matter what people are working at, they pay income and sales taxes, and claims can be made that any economic sector, including education and healthcare, have "economic multipliers." There's already a vast surplus of access to the backcountry; a reduction in the cut would not change that.
  3. Thank you for your comments. Regarding my use of "Ministry of Forests," see the logo in the upper right corner of the Ministry of Forests Harvest Billing System front page: https://a100.gov.bc.ca/pub/hbs/opq/ftas/invoiceSummary.do?actionType=P400&radSelectedReport=billing The full name of the ministry changed at least two times in the time period of my analysis. Rather than twist readers' brains with the acronym for whatever the Ministry of Forests is named today, I, like the Ministry of Forests, used "Ministry of Forests." It is true that a small part of the super ministry's costs are unrelated to forest management. Most of those operations also have revenues, and those revenues, from the "whole host of issues related to public land," such as non-forestry Crown land leases and rentals, and water licences, are not included in my account of the Ministry of Forests' revenues. It would greatly assist public accountability of the Ministry of Forests' (or FLNRORD if you like) operations if non-forestry-related costs were broken out in its Annual Service Report. Keep in mind, too, that some serious costs directly related to forest management are not included in the Ministry of Forests annual service reports. One example are the costs associated with damage from flooding and degradation of water quality resulting from clearcut logging in community watersheds. Another example is the future cost associated with restocking Not Satisfactorily Restocked lands. Another cost is the loss of carbon sequestration. And so on. None of these costs are included in the Ministry of Forests annual service reports.
  4. Chris, do you know how the BC Conservation Data Centre determines that a plant or animal species is yellow-, blue- or red-listed in BC?
  5. The Victoria Mapping Project: native animal species The Victoria Mapping Project is recording observations of native animals by municipality. To see the maps of observations, click on one of the links below. City of Victoria Oak Bay Saanich and View Royal
  6. Posted July 2, 2020 Over the past 10 years, it cost British Columbians $365 million per year, on average, to allow forest companies to log publicly-owned forests. Go to story
  7. July 3, 2020 Over the past 10 years, it cost British Columbians $365 million per year, on average, to allow forest companies to log publicly-owned forests. Most of BC’s “working forest” is now a giant patchwork of logging roads, clearcuts and young, fire-vulnerable plantations. For that dubious environmental result, BC citizens are paying more to manage the destruction than they receive in direct payments from forest companies for the wood extracted. ONE OF THE GREAT ENDURING MYTHS told about BC’s forest industry is that “forestry pays the bills, folks.” Those are the exact words a Vancouver Sun reader used recently to dismiss a report by three BC forest scientists that urged the provincial government to put an immediate moratorium on further logging of large, old-growth trees. That reader’s view? No can do. Forestry pays the bills. The Sun reader didn’t say whose bills; perhaps forestry pays his bills. But this rationale—that the forest industry is of such great economic importance to BC that nothing should be done to disturb its operations—has been used for decades as proof that any change in direction on public forest policy would be foolhardy. That may have been true 40 years ago, but those days are long gone. Over the past 10 years, for example, the cost to the public purse of managing BC’s publicly-owned forests has exceeded all direct revenue collected from the forest industry by $3.65 billion. BC taxpayers are, on average, providing a subsidy of $365 million each year to forest companies that operate in BC. That figure of $3.65 billion is derived from publicly available accounts published by the Province of BC. Those accounts show that, on the revenue side, BC collected $6.41 billion in stumpage between 2009 and 2019. It also collected about $300 million through the BC Logging Tax. Together they produced revenue of $6.71 billion. On the expense side, figures published in annual Ministry of Forests Service Plan Reports over those 10 years show total expenditures of $10,363,595,000. That works out to an accumulated loss of $3,652,460,667. Forestry doesn’t pay the bills, folks. Perhaps one of the reasons this basic fact about the forest industry—that it doesn’t pay the bills—is widely misunderstood by the BC public is that detailed accounts of forest-related revenue and expenses for a given year never appear in the same document, at least not in public. Determining these numbers would be a daunting task for any curious citizen. For example, to obtain a detailed account of stumpage revenue collected by the Province over the past 10 years, Focus needed to download and sort through 3,617,486 lines of data from the Ministry of Forests’ Harvest Billing System. There are, of course, other gauges of the economic benefits generated by the forest industry that ought to be considered in an examination of the claim that “forestry pays the bills, folks.” The forest industry—which includes forestry, logging and support industries, pulp and paper manufacturing, and wood product manufacturing—has long trumpeted its contribution to this province’s exports. The value of those exports, of course, belongs to the forest companies that produce them, and there’s nothing to prevent those companies from investing profits from those exports outside of BC. Vancouver-based Canfor, for example, recently announced majority acquisition of Vida Group, a Swedish forest products company. Canfor has also invested in Alberta, North and South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and Arkansas. With the globalization of BC forest companies, we just don’t know whose bills are being paid by raw log and wood product exports. A more reliable indicator of the overall economic importance of the forest industry to BC is its contribution to the provincial GDP. For the eight years between 2012 and 2019, according to BC Stats, the economic contribution of the forest industry accounted for an average of 2.6 percent of provincial GDP. That includes all the road-building, felling of forests, transportation of logs to mills and log export facilities, and all the milling into wood products at lumber, panel, pulp, and paper mills. In each of those eight years, the annual growth in overall provincial GDP—none of which came from the forest industry—was larger than the entire output of the forest industry. Over those eight years, the forest industry’s contribution to GDP shrank 25 percent. By 2019 it accounted for only 2.1 percent of provincial GDP. Not only does the forest industry not pay the bills, its economic importance to the health of the provincial economy is getting smaller and smaller each year. This trend is evident in employment statistics, too. In 2000, according to BC Stats, there were 100,400 people employed in the forest industry. Those jobs accounted for 5.2 percent of BC’s labour force. By 2019, that had dropped to 46,100 jobs, or 1.8 percent of all jobs. If that rate of decline continues, the remaining jobs will be gone by 2031. To keep those 46,100 jobs going, the Province has provided the forest industry exclusive access to 25 million hectares of British Columbia. At current employment levels, that works out to 5.42 square kilometres of publicly-owned working forest for each forest-industry job. The records Focus obtained from the forest ministry’s Harvest Billing System allowed us to determine the actual cut and compare that with the official Allowable Annual Cut. The data shows a 22 percent drop in the actual cut in 2019 as compared with the average cut over the previous nine years. This decline occurred before the coronavirus emerged and, given the global recession that’s been triggered by the virus, the amount of forest cut in 2020, and the number of people supported by that cut, are likely to reach historic lows. A comparison of the reported volume harvested in the first six months of 2020 with the same period in 2019 showed a 21 percent drop across the province (down 27 percent in coastal BC). The troubled future many British Columbians have imagined would one day afflict BC’s forest industry has now arrived. The sustained losses to the public purse from the current management regime for publicly-owned forests might provide ammunition for those who would privatize the land base dedicated to logging. But there are good indicators that, after decades of over-exploitation of public forests, managing BC’s forests primarily for timber extraction is a money-losing proposition. TimberWest and Island Timberlands, through Mosaic, their joint business management unit, have recently claimed that the value of logs in the BC market doesn’t even cover the cost of logging. TimberWest and Island Timberlands want to export more raw logs offshore in order to make money. To get what they want they have curtailed their operations until the federal and provincial governments acquiesce, putting hundreds of workers in small communities out of work. If timber extraction in BC has become such a marginally-profitable business, what would happen if the working-forest land base was privatized and there were no controls on what could be done with the wood extracted? Where is the public interest benefit in that direction? A change that would be more beneficial to the public interest is suggested by data Focus downloaded from the Ministry of Forest’s Harvest Billing System. For 2017, 2018 and 2019, we compared the value per cubic metre obtained by BC Timber Sales with that obtained from area-based tenures such as those held by TimberWest and Island Timberlands. BC Timber Sales uses a process of competitive auctions to market wood from public forests. Area-based tenures were established in the mid-20th century as a way of encouraging large forest companies to build mills in BC. Many of those mills have since closed and there is now no requirement for area-based tenure holders to operate manufacturing facilities to process wood logged from their tenures. For all of BC for those three years, BC Timber Sales obtained an average value of $37.33 per cubic metre. The average value collected from area-based tenures was $13.32 per cubic metre, a third of what BCTS collected. Ending area-based tenures and expanding competitive auction of publicly-owned forests seems to be a much more certain way to protect the public interest, at least as far as the economic value of logs is concerned. With an ever-increasing area of BC lying bare, stripped of forest by clearcut logging and clearcut-and-plantation fires—both contributing heavily to the climate emergency and biodiversity collapse—perhaps now would be a good time to envision a less destructive, more ecologically-enlightened relationship between humans and what remains of the forests of British Columbia. David Broadland is spending the pandemic learning more about the forest he lives in and discovering the plants and creatures he shares it with. He can be contacted at focuspublish@shaw.ca.
  8. The area shown in that satellite image is west of Summit Lake and East of Great Beaver Lake. The Ministry of Forests' map of Mountain Pine Beetle infestation (https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/farming-natural-resources-and-industry/forestry/forest-health/mountain-pine-beetle/bcmpbv132015kill.pdf) shows this area to be relatively free of beetle-killed forest. It doesn't matter where you look in BC. From space the truth is hard to hide. Below is a typical image of Vancouver Island north of Campbell River. There is no Mountain Pine Beetle infestation here. Just clearcut logging. Any part of BC that is in the Timber Harvesting Area has a more-or-less over-exploited appearance like the image between Summit Lake and Great Beaver Lake.
  9. The Ministry of Forests' own research shows the limitations of carbon storage in finished wood products (see its graph below). Very little of the wood from any BC clearcut is going to end up in mass-timber construction, which has little record of use. The promise of mass-timber is now being used in BC, primarily, to greenwash the forest industry. Most of the finished wood products manufactured in BC are exported out of the province. There's no evidence that if BC significantly reduced its export of wood product that this would result in an increase in the use of building products with greater carbon intensity in the countries currently receiving those exports. It's more likely that the required wood products would be sourced from some other country. There are many places on the planet that can grow a cubic metre of wood faster than BC's forests can. Nearly 10 percent of the volume of logs cut from BC forests each year are exported as raw logs. The Ministry of Forests is aware that raw logs exported to China are expected to have very short lifespans.
  10. Ministry of Forests statistics on the extent of use of different silvicultural system can be found here: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/industry/forestry/managing-our-forest-resources/silviculture/silviculture-statistics According to the ministry's stats, in the last two years (2016-17, 2017-18) the combined extent of retention logging and selection logging accounted for about 4 percent of total area cut in BC in those years. "Lots" might apply if that were, say, 80 to 90 percent of the area cut. Below is a satellite image of a slice of BC northwest of Prince George. This could be anywhere in BC that isn't at the top of mountains or in the far north. Is this what you mean by "state of the art non damage logging"? Since 2000, according to BC's Ministry of Environment, BC forests have lost the ability to sequester carbon by just over 100 megatonnes per year. Year after year into the future, that loss will result in untold damage to Earth ecosystems.
  11. Speaking of threatened species of plants, Maleea Acker has just posted a story about ongoing volunteer efforts in Uplands Park to protect and restore the Garry Oak meadow there. Margaret Lidkea is welcoming volunteers. Read Maleea's story here.
  12. Thanks for your posts Chris. I can't remember ever seeing Poverty clover. Looking at eflora BC I notice that Trifolium depauperatum var. depauperatum is blue-listed in BC (threatened). Is that what you have photographed?
  13. Yes, the language that is used—the exact choice of words—speaks volumes about a lack of understanding on the part of those making political decisions about forests. There's little acknowledgement of the necessary role forests play in supporting life on Earth. But playing an active role in the forest-industrial complex goes deeper than the use of words to condition the public's thinking about what forests are good for. There is a conscious choice being made by people at the Ministry of Forests to deceive the public about basic facts, such as how much original productive old growth forest remains. The ministry's role is to manufacture public consent for the rapid liquidation of this part of the biosphere. That liquidation of old growth—which is the most economically valuable type of forest—allows members of the forest industrial complex to receive the maximum benefit for their investment in careers and companies. In the last couple of days a damning report by three former BC government forest ecologists was released. The report demonstrates the degree to which BC's Ministry of Forests provides disinformation to the public in its role as the public relations arm of the forest-industrial complex. For years the ministry has claimed 13 million hectares of old-growth forest remain in the province. The three scientists, using the ministry's own data, show that only 415,000 hectares remain. I've written about the report here and have attached it below. bcs-old-growth-forest-report-web.pdf
  14. Posted June 5, 2020 Photo: A very large Western Red Cedar felled in the Nahmint Valley in 2019. A new report on old-growth forest in BC says only 415,000 hectares remain. The BC Ministry of Forests has claimed there's 13 million hectares. Go to story
  15. A new report on old-growth forest in BC says only 415,000 hectares remain. The BC Ministry of Forests has claimed there's 13 million hectares. A “very large” old-growth Western Red Cedar, felled in the Nahmint Valley on Vancouver Island in 2019. (Photo by TJ Watt) THE DEGREE TO WHICH the BC Ministry of Forests has become the public relations arm of BC’s forest-industrial complex is measured precisely, if not intentionally, in a report by three former BC government forest ecologists. In their evaluation of the old-growth forest remaining in the province, the scientists characterized the ministry’s simplistic approach to estimating old growth forest as “very misleading.” The report, “BC’s Old Growth Forest: A Last Stand for Biodiversity,” was authored by Karen Price, Rachel Holt and Dave Daust. When they say “very misleading” we need to ask: How much is “very?” Publicly, the ministry estimates there are 13 million hectares of old-growth forest remaining in BC. Advocates of protecting the remaining large, old trees have long argued that most of what the Province calls “old growth” is indeed old, but includes short, small-diameter trees, many growing in bogs, at high elevation or on rock, sites that don’t support the level of biological productivity and biodiversity found in forests with large old trees. Along come Price, Holt and Daust. Their report provides a more detailed breakdown than we’ve seen before of the nature of the remaining unprotected old growth. They differentiate, for example, between “very large old trees,” “large old trees,” and “small old trees.” They estimate there are only 35,000 hectares on which “very large old trees” still grow in BC. That’s an area smaller than BC Premier John Horgan’s home municipality of Langford (41,000 hectares). The scientists report that under circumstances in which forest growth is in equilibrium with natural disturbances like fire and insect infestation, there would be 1.5 million hectares of forest in BC that would contain old trees that are “very large.” Today, only 2.3 percent of that remains. Price, Holt and Daust estimate that in all of BC there are an additional 380,000 hectares of forest that contain “large” old trees. That’s an area 1.6 times larger than the Capital Regional District. They estimate that—under natural circumstances—there would be 3.5 million hectares of forests with large, old trees in BC. That’s an area larger than Vancouver Island. Today, only 11 percent of that remains. A 336-year-old Douglas fir felled recently on Quadra Island. This is an example of a “large” old-growth tree. (Photo by David Broadland) Combined, the scientists say, the area of BC covered with unprotected forests containing “large” and “very large” trees is 415,000 hectares. If you drew a line on a map of Vancouver Island from Duncan to Bamfield, the area of land south of that line is about 415,000 hectares (see map below). Price, Holt and Daust note that’s less than 1 percent of BC’s 50 million hectares of forested area. (By “forested area” the scientists mean land in BC that could support forests, including the millions of hectares that are currently bare clearcuts or young regrowth.) Let’s summarize all those numbers: On one hand we have the Ministry of Forests claiming there’s still 13 million hectares of old-growth forest and, on the other, these three scientists estimate there are 415,000 hectares remaining of the forests needed by endangered and threatened plant and animal species, including the Northern Spotted Owl, the Woodland Caribou, the Marbled Murrelet, the Wandering Salamander, the Northern Red-legged Frog and so on. When you put these two estimates side-by-side, one appears to be supported by data, arithmetic and logic, and the other is revealed as a public relations gimmick designed to maintain the illusion that old forests are plentiful. Price, Holt and Daust estimate there are 415,000 hectares of unprotected old-growth forest remaining in BC that contain “large” and “very large” trees. That’s equivalent to the area of Vancouver Island shaded in dark grey in the map above. Does it matter if there’s less and less forest containing large and very large old trees? The scientists say it does. In their report, they link the loss of large and very large trees to higher ecological risk. This occurs as a result of the loss of ecological function when large and very large trees are removed from a forest. You’re not a Pileated Woodpecker or a Northern Red-legged Frog, so such loss is hard to comprehend, and understandably so. Most of us spend so little time in an old-growth forest that we have little knowledge of what lives there, what it needs to live, and what happens when its habitat is logged. But think of what your life would be like if aliens from another world suddenly arrived in your town, physically removed all of the houses, and then left a 2x4 in everyone’s front yard. The loss of your habitat would put you and everyone else in the community at greater risk of harm or death. Could you move to a nearby city? No, the aliens took that, too. The food system has disappeared and there’s far less water available. The end result? The forest scientists noted, “Conservation science agrees that habitat loss leads to declines in populations and ultimately loss of species.” They observed that shifts in a forest’s ecological function “mean that forest ecosystems can pass a point whereby a particular species may not be able to recover to former abundance even if habitat is subsequently increased, and/or that ecosystems are less able to withstand disturbance and they become less resilient.” While we might think the scientists are talking about Pileated Woodpeckers and Red-legged Frogs, the same principles apply to humans. The scientists connect the magnitude of ecological risk directly to the extent of forest removed: “Studies of habitat change suggest that risk to biodiversity and ecological function is low when more than 70 percent of natural forest remains, high when less than 30 percent remains, and moderate between.” What happens to plant and animal communities that live in forest stands of old and very old trees when less than one percent of the natural forest remains? The plants and animals already know. The human community is slowly becoming aware of the enormous loss in biodiversity that is underway. Price, Holt and Daust call for an immediate end to logging old-growth forests. In response, Forests Minister Donaldson told CBC reporter Rafferty Baker, “We want to make sure that [old growth] is being managed properly, and we recognize the importance old forests have for biodiversity in the province…We also recognize the importance that [old growth] provides for communities and workers who depend on harvesting.” Donaldson’s ministry has recently conducted a review of its old-growth policies. Given his comment to the CBC, it doesn’t appear he’s going to impose the moratorium Price, Holt, Daust and many others are recommending. What will that mean? Sierra BC has put the rate at which old-growth forest is being logged in Coastal BC at 15,200 hectares per year. For the Interior they estimate 126,000 hectares are logged annually. Added together that amounts to 141,200 hectares being lost each year. At that rate, the 415,000 hectares that Price, Holt and Daust have identified would be gone in three years. What Sierra BC calls “old growth” may not correspond exactly with the analysis of Price, Holt and Daust, but it’s in the same forest. Imagine for a moment, though, that both the scientists’ and Sierra BC’s estimates are essentially correct, and that there is only a three-year supply of old forest “for communities and workers who depend on harvesting,” as Donaldson put it. If the Province’s new strategy were to cut the rate of old-growth logging in half—which Donaldson implies would impose significant hardship on communities and workers—all the large and very large old growth would be gone in six years instead of just three. Old-growth-related forestry jobs would still be gone forever, the end coming just a few years later. Plant and animal communities dependent on old forests would be gone, too, perhaps permanently. Whether this ecological catastrophe unfolds in three, six or even twenty years isn’t clear, and it shouldn’t matter. Why would a small difference in the timing of the endpoint of a catastrophe make any difference to decision-makers who have a responsibility to avoid such catastrophes altogether? Surely the correct course of action for a government to take is to ensure that our economic activities do not put the planet’s life support systems at risk. Given the hard numbers provided by Price, Holt and Dauss—which were derived from the Province’s own records—the only reasonable course of action for the Province to take is to permanently protect the remaining 415,000 hectares identified by the scientists. That shouldn’t be difficult. If the Province has been truthful about there being 13 million hectares of old-growth forest, protecting the 415,000 hectares identified by the scientists will mean a loss of just 3 percent of the old-growth forest the government claims is still there. David Broadland has been writing about BC’s forest industry since 1990. BC’s Old Growth Forest: A Last Stand for Biodiversity: bcs-old-growth-forest-report-web.pdf
  16. Thanks to Chris Junck's observations, we have now added a map for native animal observations made in Saanich.
  17. Photographed in March 2020. Great Blue Heron nests beside Goodacre Lake in Beacon Hill Park. Go back to City of Victoria animal observations map
  18. Welcome to Focus Forums Clint! And thanks for that link Chris. It's interesting reading. I notice that one of the factors in the decline of Great Blue Herons is a decline in the availability of trees tall enough for them to use for nesting and that are also within 10 kilometres of foraging habitat. Many Victorians are aware that Beacon Hill Park has an active heronry that is, from time to time, disturbed by Bald Eagles. Knowing how skittish herons can be about humans in areas far less populated than Victoria, I am always surprised that the herons tolerate human presence and vehicle noise so close to their nests in Beacon Hill Park. I took this photo in early March.
  19. We've mapped observations made in the municipality of Oak Bay here.
  20. We've mapped observations made in the City of Victoria to date here.
  21. Of the animals observed so far, two happen to be on BC's Blue List: The Double-crested Cormorant, as mentioned above, and the subspecies of Great Blue Heron that occurs in this area. With our Mapping Nature project, we are especially interested in recording species that the Province has indicated are "endangered" (Red List) or "threatened" (Blue List). We'll put together a list of those species that are found in the Victoria area that fall into one of these categories, and make it available here.
  22. I believe the only cormorant in BC with an all orange beak is the Double-crested Cormorant. Wikipedia has an image (below) of a juvenile Double-crested Cormorant, courtesy Gordon Robertson. The Province of BC has put Phalacrocorax auritus on its Blue List, which means it is "threatened." Photographs of this species in the Victoria area would help to establish its wintering habitat here. This photo by Gordon Robertson
  23. THE PLANT KINGDOM consists of trees, shrubs, herbaceous plants, and grasses. You don't have to know what species you have photographed, although we hope you will try to identify it before you send your photograph to us. Remember, please include a brief description of where you found the plant. (If the plant is red- or blue-listed in BC, we will not divulge the exact location.) You can attach your photograph in the forum below or email it to focuspublish@shaw.ca.
  24. Transient orca in Victoria Harbour, photographed by Mark Malleson THE ANIMAL KINGDOM consists of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, fish and invertebrates. You don’t have to know what species you have photographed, although we hope you will try to identify it before you send your photograph to us. Remember, please include a brief description of where the animal was when you photographed it. You can attach it in the forum below or email it to focuspublish@shaw.ca. As we receive your observations they will be mapped (by municipality). You will find the current maps here.
  25. In the other forests forum James Steidle has posted a comment about the effect on the flammability of forest stands of taking out deciduous species in order to enhance growth of conifers. This is another example of how current forestry practices are contributing to larger, more aggressive fires. Steidel wrote a piece in the Province about this in 2019. He noted, “Now the problem, to anyone who studies fire dynamics of these two different forest types, should be immediately apparent. The Conifer-dominated forest type we are actively encouraging, is highly flammable, while the Broadleaf Aspen forest type we are actively eliminating, is incredibly fire resistant. With a few caveats, the conclusion is undeniable. According to a 2001 study by Steve Cummings et al, pine forests are 8.4 times more likely to burn compared to deciduous Aspen forests based on historical data.”
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