What to do with 400 Million Hectares of Forest

by pwishart on November 25, 2016 - 3:56pm

Worldwide the boreal forest covers 1.9 billion hectares (14% of earths land) (Natural Resources Canada 2016), 400 million hectares of which are in Canada. (Hanna 2015) In Canada forest management is a conflicting issue, with concerns coming from all fields; social, economic and environmental. One article that covers these issues is ‘Canada boreal forest protection expanded in 2013 but concerns remain’ written by the CBC, based on a report by Jeff Wells a biologist with the Canadian Boreal Initiative. Although this initiative is no longer in action there are several organizations that have taken over this management position for the boreal forests such as the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement (CBFA). The article focuses on the boreal forest in Canada and the management implications of being able to harvest the forest sustainably and access its resources, all while maintaining the habitats and the populations of wildlife found in them and keeping a healthy relationship with the first nations and aboriginal people that live in the boreal zone.  The report considers the ways in which the different provinces are dealing with the conflicts and how people are working together to overcome them. However, although there are vast environmental concerns, Wells is quoted in the article to say that ‘mining interests are given top priority over any other possible use’, the article then goes on to say how this is going to be part of the challenge in balancing the conflicts between the different interests and uses of the boreal forest. Overall the article states that ‘one of the biggest challenges in this area is going to be land use planning in coming years.’

I enjoyed reading this article as it gave a good summary of the social problems interacting with the environmental problems. As with conflict between people such as how people are angry and concerned about the use of natural resources and how the First Nations land is being taken from them. I feel that more could have been talked about concerning how these conflicting groups come together to manage the forest. For example, as covered in class, the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement represents 21 Canadian forest product companies and 7 environmental organizations. This partnership ensures that every voice is heard while implementing the management practices. The suggestion of having integrated resource management could also have been raised. This is an effective method that acknowledges the multiple uses of the forest and brings together these differing perspectives and interests. If these had been raised in the article the solutions to the conflict could have been seen by the reader creating a more balanced account of events rather than just showing the conflict.

Although there are people fighting to help enable sustainable management practices there are still vast threats to the boreal ecosystem such as; deforestation, climate change, mining, oil and gas extraction and hydroelectricity. The solutions above can help with the human impacts however climate change is an ongoing issue which needs to be acknowledged in the area. With the global average temperature warming forest fires have become more frequent due to the increasing dryness of the boreal ecosystems. These forest fires often help with ecosystem processes (Hanna 2015) but due to the increase in scale they are damaging the landscape and adding to greenhouse gasses further increasing climate change. More needs to be done to acknowledge this change and trying to reduce the impacts of it.

Overall I think this article increased the awareness of the issues surrounding the boreal system, but I think I could have done more to draw on the variety of threats it faces and the solutions.



Natural Resources Canada (2016) Forests

Available:https: //www.nrcan.gc.ca/forests/boreal/17394   

Hanna, K. (2015) Resource and Environmental Management in Canada. Chapter 11: The Enduring Importance of Canada’s Forest Sector. Fifth edition.