Logging is a major part of Vancouver Island’s history and economy. A significant portion of old growth forests in the area have been logged, some remain relatively untouched. The decisions about whether to log the remaining old growth areas is a contentious one, with sides pointing to both positive and negative consequences. There should be no logging of old growth forests permitted on Vancouver Island because there are many environmental consequences, there are many other places to log and significant impact on indigenous communities.
Old growth forests play a significant role in the ecology and biodiversity of the region. They house a large number of potentially unique species of animals. Some of the reasons why old growth forests are the only suitable habitats for some of these species are not always obvious. For instance, they have more fallen trees and more established root systems than younger forests (Unity College, 2017). These properties can be impossible to reproduce artificially, but without them animals can be driven out of their habitat and into surrounding areas, potentially disrupting their ecosystems or human settlements. Alternatively, those unable to find a new habitat may go extinct altogether. It is a delicate balance that is easy to disrupt, but the consequences of such disruptions can be difficult to foresee and extremely negative.
Old growth forests also contribute significantly to the environment of the region in which they are located. Trees protect the area from sunlight and compact the ground with their roots. Land cleared of trees becomes dry and loose, which means it risks erosion and landslides (Franke, n. d.). This is especially notable in clear-cutting, which leaves the area completely devoid of trees; however, even selective logging methods have this effect (Franke, n. d.). These consequences disrupt the local environment, potentially affecting neighbouring areas, as well.
Impact on Indigenous Communities
Vancouver Island’s indigenous population ascribes major cultural significance to the old growth forests. They have lived there for generations, and rely on the forests’ resources in their life. Notably, the streams running through the forests provide habitat for salmon, and, in turn, the forests rely on the fish as a source of nutrients (Renner, 2020). For the First Nations of the region, the salmon is an important cultural item, as well as a source of food (Martin, 2020). Moreover, tree products, such as bark, especially from the old growth red cedar, are used for the First Nations’ cultural items (Martin, 2020). Logging in the area will destroy the salmon’s habitat and deprive the locals of their culturally important environment. Furthermore, as the local First Nations rely on the forests’ resources for their life, logging would also harm their traditional way of living.
Other Places for Logging
Although forestry is the largest manufacturing sector of British Columbia’s economy, it is not the only region in Canada that produces wood and wood products. Considering the contentious nature of logging in this area, it can be prudent to relocate the industry elsewhere. Quebec and Ontario are responsible for 31% and 21% of the country’s forest industry, compared to British Columbia’s 27% (Government of Canada, 2020). This suggests that the production of wood products can be relocated to these provinces, if necessary. Furthermore, British Columbia’s old growth forests are attractive to tourists, with the estimated yearly economic value of the same areas being significantly higher if used for tourism than if it is logged (BC Chamber of Commerce, 2019). Therefore, logging in this province specifically may not be as economically sound as others.
Though British Columbia and Vancouver Island are significant source of wood for Canada, and the region’s economy relies on logging to a significant degree, logging old growth forests in the area should be banned. It can have significant negative effects on the local environment. It will deprive the local indigenous people of their resources, livelihood, and traditional way of life. Finally, tourism is more economically advantageous than logging in the area; therefore, it can be done in other provinces.
BC Chamber of Commerce (2019). Protecting Old Growth Rainforest to the Economic Benefit of Tourism-Based Communities (2019). Web.
Franke, A. (n. d.). The impacts of logging on Vancouver Island. ArcGIS. Web.
Government of Canada (2020). Forest Industry – Regional Picture. Web.
Martin, J. (2020). Old growth forests are vital to indigenous cultures. We need to protect what’s left. The Tyee. Web.
Renner, S. (2020). The deep roots of BC’s old growth defenders. The Tyee. Web.
Unity College (2017). The benefits of protecting old-growth forests after your sustainability studies. Web.