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New old growth forest plans don’t help deciduous trees: Steidle

James Steidle

Changes to provincial forestry policy do not mean we are out of the woods yet, says Stop the Spray BC founder James Steidle.

Victoria has announced an eight-point plan which includes $25 million for new Forest Landscape Planning (FLP) tables that will drive improved old-growth management while incorporating local knowledge and community priorities, according to a government news release. Enabled by 2021 amendments to the Forest and Range Practices Act, forest landscape plans are a more comprehensive and inclusive approach to forest stewardship that will replace existing, industry-developed plans.

“While the regulatory changes remove the ‘unduly’ clause that prevented a lot of old-growth conservation, there are other critical changes that need to immediately happen,” said Steidle. “Specifically, 46.11 of the Forest and Range Practices Act regulation that requires an extreme and draconian war on deciduous species in our forests needs to be struck.”

Stop the Spray BC is lobbying government to stop spaying glyphosate on B.C. forests as it limits deciduous growth and promotes conifer growth.

The regulation requires a minimum of 95 per cent conifer domination on every cutblock under every major Forest Stewardship Plan west of the Rockies, and prohibits deciduous forests larger than two hectares, says Steidle. There is no requirement in the regulation to maintain any deciduous for moose habitat, beaver, birds, or fire-breaks.  It is legal to spray and brush 100 per cent of all deciduous on cutblocks.

“This rule has driven an incredibly harmful and damaging war using herbicides and brush saws against species like aspen, birch, and cottonwood. This continues to make our forests exponentially more flammable, drier, hotter, less productive, and capable of supporting far less wildlife. It has reduced resiliency and made our forests more vulnerable. It has been a massive failure.”

A recent study in Alaska showed that aspen and birch can sequester up to 500% more carbon compared to conifer, and an Alberta study showed deciduous absorb almost half the solar radiation as conifer due to their lighter tone

A European study has shown conversion of deciduous forests to conifer in the past 250 years has made global warming worse based on this colour difference alone.  

“The war on deciduous is climate change denial,” said Steidle. “It’s a policy in favour of forest fire. It is a program of moose starvation.” 


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