New report calls out logging problems

Canada might have more trees than stars in the Milky Way, but that doesn’t mean we should take them for granted.

Driving the news: Canada has “downplayed the impact of the forest industry,” one researcher told the NYT after reviewing a new study on logging in Ontario and Québec. The study found that clearcutting practices (where loggers harvest every tree in a given area) have led directly to forest degradation — a stepping stone to deforestation, per the WWF.

  • Since 1976, 35.4 million acres (about the size of New York state) of the province’s boreal forests have been harvested, leaving the forests unable to benefit people and nature. 

Catch-up: Right now, loggers in Canada have to either replant trees after harvesting or prove the trees will naturally regenerate. The study claims this practice isn’t truly sustainable because younger trees are more susceptible to disease, insect infestations, and wildfires.

Why it matters: Canada has the largest portion of the world’s boreal forest, which plays a vital role in fighting climate change by capturing carbon dioxide. The more trees that are cut — especially older ones, which store more C02 — the more carbon seeps into the ozone. 

Yes, but: Proper forest management can also help the environment. For example, logger Canfor partnered with Parks Canada to remove dead pine in Alberta to reduce wildfire risks. 

Big picture: The forestry industry is a significant economic driver, accounting for ~1.7% of Canada’s GDP in 2021 and employing hundreds of thousands of workers. It’s not going anywhere, but more can be done to better calculate its exact environmental impact.—QH