On June 10, the Ministry of Forest and Natural Resource Operations announced proposed changes in the governance of the Great Bear Rainforests’ (GBR) some 7.0 million hectares of forests. It tells us, the public:
Together the proposed 2015 Great Bear Rainforest Order and potential Biodiversity, Mining and Tourism Areas will meet the goals of reserving 70 per cent of historic old-growth forests …, while maintaining a viable forest industry in the Great Bear Rainforest.” (Campbell River Mirror, June 10, 2015, Page 7.)
What it does not tell us is that the GBR is really composed of TWO FORESTS, one in the North, made up of largely old growth, and one in the South Central portion, made up of second growth.
The potential changes the Ministry proposes to adopt are the same approach to management in both forests.
It also does not tell us that the “viable forest industry” is an oligopoly made up of two or three firms based in logging old growth.
There is no area or volume for the development of a “viable forest industry” based in second growth.
This volume might have been derived from the South Central portion of the GBR, but for the most part, harvesting will be put on hold until 70 per cent of the stands reach old growth status in 240 years.
What about climate change?
Of course, under the proposed draft orders, there is no awareness of climate change and the ecosystems of today are the same that were here when the First Nations arrived and will be here 240 years from now.
To prove this, THERE WILL BE NO MONITORING OF LANDSCAPE CHANGE IN NATURAL STANDS.
The red cedar (Thuja plicata) that is not regenerating in natural stands in the South Central portion of the GBR is neither happening nor the demise of Alaska Yellow Cypress (Cupressus nootkatensis) in the North.
Kind of ironic that society can set some seven million hectares aside to natural processes, but cannot afford the luxury of monitoring the environmental quality of this decision even at the landscape scale.
It was international pressure that was the catalyst behind the governmental decision to establish the GBR in the first place.
Maybe informed stress from First Nations and local people could cause the provincial government to re-evaluate its approach to ecosystem-based management and adopt a more appropriate belief system based in an adaptive system of using knowledge about nature – a landscape approach to managing ecosystems in an era of changing climatic trends.
William L. Wagner, PhD, RPF