Posts tagged ‘logging’

January 4, 2013

Why I love B.C. – Pulp non-fiction

I saw this sign outside the University of Northern British Columbia:

Sign for a Pulp Bleaching Conference at the University of Northern British Columbia

Here in northern B.C., a two-day conference on this topic is completely normal!

August 8, 2012

The largest clear-cut in the world

British Columbia has the unenviable distinction of housing the largest clear-cut in the world — a 300-plus-square-kilometre block of forest land located in the Bowron River Valley, approximately 125 kilometres east of Prince George.  This area — dubbed the “Bowron Cut” — was harvested in the early- and mid-1980s in reaction to a spruce bark beetle epidemic that blanketed the region in the late 1970s.  Reasons aside, the cut is big.  So big that when it was fresh, it was visible from space.

In fact, cutting 300 square kilometres of forest is like razing an area equal to the footprint of any of the following:

  • the city of Prince George, B.C.
  • the city of Surrey, B.C.
  • Arches National Park in southeastern Utah
  • Great Basin National Park in east-central Nevada
  • one third the area of Grasslands National Park in southern Saskatchewan
  • two times the area of Bruce Peninsula National park in southern Ontario
  • the entire Republic of the Maldives

I wonder how logging practices — and public perceptions — have changed since the days of the Bowron Cut?  The B.C. Interior is in the final stages of a decade-long mountain pine beetle infestation.  Over 180,000 square kilometres of forests and an estimated 710 million cubic metres of pine trees have been infected to date, according to a report by Wood Resource Quarterly, as published in The Working Forest newspaper on July 16, 2012.

The beetle infestation resulted in significant and widespread logging in the B.C. Interior, both to remove infected stands and as a control measure.  Surely large tracts of forest land were cut during the epidemic, but I haven’t heard so much about the scars on the land as about the methods of re-purposing beetle-damaged wood in commercially viable ways — from decorative woodworking to construction of Vancouver 2010 Olympics facilities to “Beetlecrete” (a building material made from Portland cement and beetle wood chips).

Have logging practices changed?  Have marketing tactics improved?  Or are people in B.C. just more accustomed to seeing clear-cuts these days?

To quote Charlotte Gill in her book Eating Dirt:  Deep Forests, Big Timber, and Life with the Tree-Planting Tribe:

In British Columbia we live among clear-cuts like people of the tropics live in the sugarcane.  When we fly over our province, we see shaved slopes.  When we drive, slash and stumps are a highway blur through our windshields.  Cut blocks they are called in the logging trade, like something you could snip at with scissors.



July 16, 2012

How many trees does it take to fuel your SUV for one year?

Consider this statistic from Tree Canada:

Over the course of their lives, 12 trees absorb 1.9 tonnes of carbon — the same amount produced by one SUV that has been driven 20,000 kilometres.

Let’s put that figure in some perspective, based on Canadian data:

  • Natural Resources Canada derives its yearly vehicle fuel consumption costs from an annual driving distance of 20,000 kilometres.  Therefore, we can assume that the average SUV produces 1.9 tonnes of carbon per year, and that the lifetimes of 12 trees are required to absorb one year’s worth of SUV carbon emissions.
  • According to the web site GoodCarBadCar, Canadian car dealerships sold 1,587,434 new passenger vehicles in 2011, 463,184 of which were SUVs.  Therefore, 29 per cent — or just under one third — of vehicles sold in Canada in 2011 were SUVs.  From this, we can infer that SUVs account for roughly one third of vehicles owned in Canada.
  • In 2009, Statistics Canada counted a total of 19,876,990 vehicle registrations for road motor vehicles weighing less than 4,500 kilograms.  Most SUVs fit into this category; the Hummer H2 — one of the largest SUVs on the road — has a gross vehicle weight of just under 4,000 kilograms.  Assuming that one third of Canadian passenger vehicles are SUVs (see the previous calculation), we get an estimated total of 6,625,663 registered SUVs eligible to drive Canadian roads in 2009.

From these data, we can draw the following conclusions:

  • 6,625,500 Canadian SUVs, each driving an annual average of 20,000 kilometres, together pump 12,588,450 tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere each year.  
  • It takes 79.5 million trees a lifetime of work to absorb the carbon produced by Canadian SUVs in just one year.  The next year, those same SUVs will require another 79.5 million trees to do the same work.  After ten years of driving, those SUVs will have engaged the carbon-absorbing lives of almost 800 million trees.
  • Since beginning operations in 1992, Tree Canada has planted over 77 million trees.  That’s not quite enough to absorb the combined carbon emissions from all SUVs driven in Canada in 2009.  
  • According to the Ecology Global Networksome 11.4 billion trees are harvested each year worldwide.  Left standing, those trees would have the capacity to absorb 143 times the amount of carbon produced by Canadian SUVs in 2009.  

Now consider all the other types of vehicles motoring around on Canadian roads, and on roads in countries all over the world.  Consider that not all vehicles are up to North American emission standards.  And consider the carbon emissions from other sources — industry, utilities, waste burning, etc. — that we assume trees will also absorb and cleanse from the air we breathe, even as we continue to harvest those trees at an unsustainable rate.  What conclusions do you draw?

Get planting.  Cut driving.  Reduce your footprint.

Now is the time.

Source list:

June 22, 2012

What are we doing to our forests?

Makes you think, doesn’t it?


Aerial view of  hurricane and logging damage in a Swedish forest.  The clearcut area looks like a giant oak tree stamped into the surrounding forest.



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