How millions of Ontario trees escaped Doug Ford’s cuts
DEC 6, 2019 — Following news articles and receiving an update from Forests Ontario, here is the latest update about the program.
The 50 Million Tree Program is fully up-and-running. Forests Ontario is now taking applications from property owners wishing to plant trees. The criteria for the program has changed; in the past, folks needed to have at least 2.5 acres of open land for planting to be eligible, whereas now property owners can apply if they have room to plant a minimum of 500 hundred trees (which can be as little as 0.6 of an acre).
There is no need for the supporters of the petition to understand the importance of trees. The more trees on the ground, more CO2 sequestered from the atmosphere and a slew of other benefits including preventing land erosion, increasing bio diversity and many more.
The 50 Million Tree Program provides professional technical and financial assistance for mid to large-scale tree planting.
Individual consumer choices in the global north, about what to eat, won’t be enough to get rid of a bad system, nor will they be enough to build a just transition to a better one.
Regenerative agriculture can make farmers stewards of the land again. Rock Hills Ranch in South Dakota uses managed grazing techniques to maintain healthy, diverse plant communities in its pastures. Credit: Lars Ploughmann, CC BY-SA
While much of the media coverage of the new IPCC report on land and agriculture focus on diet, the report needs to be understood as saying this: we (in protein-rich countries, at the very least),must replace our current large-scale industrialized systems of agriculture and food production with those based on agroecological and regenerative practices. Food security and agricultural resilience, in the face of a changing climate, depend on this.
From IATP’s perspective, replacing our current industrialized system requires dismantling the power of large-scale corporate agribusiness to manipulate markets, drive consumer demand, and influence everything from our food safety regulatory system to the rules laid down in international trade agreements.
For agroecological and regenerative systems sector-wide, we must achieve widespread public understanding of the productive, environmental, and economic legitimacy of these systems; invest heavily in them, in the farmers designing them and in the rural communities in which they prosper; and reawaken ourselves to the cultural and societal significance of our agriculture and food systems.
Globally, industrialized agriculture now emits extraordinarily high levels of GHG emissions as a sector. In our 2018 in-depth report, Emissions Impossible, IATP and GRAIN calculated total GHG emissions by a corporation, rather than by country. This gave us new insights into the astonishing lack of accountability for GHG emissions of the world’s largest 35 meat and dairy corporations. Responsible for the design, promotion, perpetuation and performance of large-scale industrialized agricultural systems of meat and dairy production, these corporations must also be accountable for their role in perpetuating, or curbing, climate change, system-wide.
It is imperative not to confuse large-scale industrialized meat and dairy corporations with agroecological and regenerative livestock producers, whose vision and practice is precisely what is needed. Fueling that confusion is the entanglement (at some point in their supply chains), of large, vertically integrated corporations with producers of all kinds and sizes. Vertical integration and corporate concentration in agribusiness is another tough problem to solve. We can start by enforcing what is left of antitrust laws and stopping more mega-mergers.
It is imperative, too, that we think far beyond single-note dietary changes. For example, consumer campaigns focused on the importance of reduced meat consumption should not rest their case with individual consumer choice, but instead, recognize the role of corporate influence in the system, as well as promoting the importance of livestock to regenerative agricultural systems. A simplistic “no meat” message can too easily and swiftly fall into a populist and misdirected movement harmful to farmers worldwide who are, right now, responsibly building our agroecological and regenerative agricultural systems.
Plant-based diets that continue to rely on agricultural inputs that are themselves high emitters of GHGs (such as fertilizer), pollutants and toxic chemicals are of no use. Nor are plant-based diets dependent on GMOs. Nor are plant-based diets that depend on the continued exploitation of farm labor, farmers forced to sell their commodities for less than the cost of production, and inequity in their ability to purchase and hold farmland. There is the possibility that the choice to eat less meat, (or none at all), could be erroneously seen by those who make it, as an act that naturally leads to agriculture that is good for the land, for farmers, for ecosystems, for consumers. Just not so.
The shift from agrarian societies to industrial, to digital, has come at a high cost when it comes to the general public’s knowledge of agriculture. The value of that loss cannot be over-estimated when it comes to consumer campaigns and the role they can and must play in promoting the system changes we need for a just transition to sustainable agriculture, sector-wide.
The wildly expanding market for organic food tells us that consumers can and do understand the importance of what they eat as individuals, yet it remains unclear how and if this market growth signals a much-needed change in societal values when it comes to the land and the people who farm it. We certainly are not seeing a change in values reflected in the apparent market growth for fake meat, for example. We do not need more unregulated start-up fake meat labs designed to exploit our addiction to fast food. We already know that the societal cost of fast food is much too high a price to pay for private profits gained. What we do need is a consumer u-turn of sorts, away from one-note dietary panaceas, and toward recognizing and insisting on the extraordinary and unimaginably crucial diversity of the ecological and biological systems necessary for the food that sustains life.
Consumers will not understand how agricultural systems work (and what we must do to maintain them), without being taught. Agribusiness will not cede power without the strong insistence of the public and political will. Farmers will not change their practices with no support to do so and little role in defining what a just transition to sustainable and resilient agriculture and food systems should look like.
All of these changes require the responsibility of people committed to our civic role in governance, mindful of the stakes, confident in our role’s legitimacy in a democracy, and tenacious in our determination to get it right. SOURCE
Renewable energy just got some major investment tailwinds–quite literally. In fact, the biggest breakthrough in wind power generation right now isn’t technological–it’s natural, and it costs nothing.
For three decades, from about 1980 until 2010, wind speeds around the world were slowing down. Now, researchers say that the world is going to keep getting windier for the next 10 years.
In other words, climate change itself is an answer to climate change through a reversal of the process known as “global terrestrial stilling”.
According to a new study by Princeton University, this reversal has come about due to changing ocean-atmosphere dynamics–or shifting ocean circulation patterns–that have seen wind energy potential increase by approximately 17% between 2010 and 2017.
In turn, the capacity of wind power in the United States has grown by around 2.5%, just on windier times alone. Furthermore, the study says, “In the longer term, the use of ocean-atmosphere oscillations to anticipate future wind speeds could allow optimization of turbines for expected speeds during their productive life spans.” This trend, which is expected to continue for another decade, could translate into a nearly 40% increase in the amount of wind power generated between 2010 and 2024.
While about half of our increased wind energy is attributable to technological advancement, the rest is all Mother Nature.
Mapping the Wind Market
The U.S. wind market has just reached 100 GW of capacity. That puts it second only to China.
Wind will be the fastest-growing energy source in the United States in 2020, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). In fact, the EIA forecasts that total power produced from wind will have grown 6% this year and another 14% next year, both onshore and offshore.
And Texas, the country’s oil and gas giant, leads the pack in wind power generation, with more than 3GW of wind power capacity added to the state’s energy resources since 2018 alone. By the end of next year, another 7 GW will have been added.
Countrywide, the EIA expects operators to bring another 8.5 GW of capacity online by the end of this year, and another 14.3 GW by the end of 2020. That means Texas is accounting for half of the country’s new capacity all by itself–another record for the Lone Star state.
Wood Mackenzie predicts that the U.S. market will see some 27 GW of capacity coming online from the fourth quarter of this year into 2020.
And when Mother Nature isn’t intervening, progress is tied closely to changes in tax incentives in the form of the production tax credit (PTC), which gives operators a tax credit per kilowatt hour of renewable electricity generated in the first 10 years of a facility’s operations.
That expired at the end of 2012, initially, but was retroactively renewed in 2013. But we’re nearing the phaseout of this tax credit. Any new facilities that begin construction after the end of 2020 cannot claim the PTC. That means that until then there could be a bit of a run on wind power facility construction to get in before the phaseout.
From an investment standpoint, one could expect a slowdown to hit the wind market in the middle of next year if lobbyists fail to get the PTC extended. But that tailwinds on that are fickle, so anything can happen between now and then.
Globally, according to the bi-annual report on the future of the wind industry by Greenpeace International and the Global Wind Energy Council, wind power could supply up to 12% of global electricity by 2020, while at the same time creating 1.4 million new jobs. By 2030, wind could provide more than 20% of global electricity supply.
Offshore, is an entirely different story than onshore. The first U.S. offshore wind farm came online in 2016, but it’s a global phenomenon that’s spreading rapidly. For now, the UK is the world’s largest offshore wind market, accounting for 36% of installed capacity. Germany gets second place, followed by China, Denmark and the Netherlands.
And investor confidence is growing at a fast clip.
Look no further than New Jersey for the next big offshore wind investments. Last week, the governor of New Jersey signed an executive order upping the targeted capacity from 3,500 megawatts by 2030 to 7,500 megawatts by 2035, saying: “There is no other renewable energy resource that provides us with either the electric-generation or economic-growth potential of offshore wind.”
New Jersey is riding these tailwinds, but one cautionary note: We don’t know what the climate will have in store for wind power a decade from now. Zhenzhong Zeng, the lead author of the Princeton study, noted that those conveniently shifting oceanic patterns that are making the world windier might not last forever.
A decades-old idea is finally getting a chance to shine—that is, a chance to send sunshine harvested by a satellite down to Earth.
SPS-ALPHA concept and illustration COURTESY OF JOHN C. MANKINS OF MANKINS SPACE TECHNOLOGY, INC.
Earlier this year, a small group of spectators gathered in David Taylor Model Basin, the Navy’s cavernous indoor wave pool in Maryland, to watch something they couldn’t see. At each end of the facility there was a 13-foot pole with a small cube perched on top. A powerful infrared laser beam shot out of one of the cubes, striking an array of photovoltaic cells inside the opposite cube. To the naked eye, however, it looked like a whole lot of nothing. The only evidence that anything was happening came from a small coffee maker nearby, which was churning out “laser lattes” using only the power generated by the system.
The laser setup managed to transmit 400 watts of power—enough for several small household appliances—through hundreds of meters of air without moving any mass. The Naval Research Lab, which ran the project, hopes to use the system to send power to drones during flight. But NRL electronics engineer Paul Jaffe has his sights set on an even more ambitious problem: beaming solar power to Earth from space. For decades the idea had been reserved for The Future, but a series of technological breakthroughs and a massive new government research program suggest that faraway day may have finally arrived.
Since the idea for space solar power first cropped up in Isaac Asimov’s science fiction in the early 1940s, scientists and engineers have floated dozens of proposals to bring the concept to life, including inflatable solar arrays and robotic self-assembly. But the basic idea is always the same: A giant satellite in orbit harvests energy from the sun and converts it to microwaves or lasers for transmission to Earth, where it is converted into electricity. The sun never sets in space, so a space solar power system could supply renewable power to anywhere on the planet, day or night, rain or shine.
Like fusion energy, space-based solar power seemed doomed to become a technology that was always 30 years away. Technical problems kept cropping up, cost estimates remained stratospheric, and as solar cells became cheaper and more efficient, the case for space-based solar seemed to be shrinking.
That didn’t stop government research agencies from trying. In 1975, after partnering with the Department of Energy on a series of space solar power feasibility studies, NASA beamed 30 kilowatts of power over a mile using a giant microwave dish. Beamed energy is a crucial aspect of space solar power, but this test remains the most powerful demonstration of the technology to date. “The fact that it’s been almost 45 years since NASA’s demonstration, and it remains the high-water mark, speaks for itself,” Jaffe says. “Space solar wasn’t a national imperative, and so a lot of this technology didn’t meaningfully progress.”
John Mankins, a former physicist at NASA and director of Solar Space Technologies, witnessed how government bureaucracy killed space solar power development firsthand. In the late 1990s, Mankins authored a report for NASA that concluded it was again time to take space solar power seriously and led a project to do design studies on a satellite system. Despite some promising results, the agency ended up abandoning it.
In 2005, Mankins left NASA to work as a consultant, but he couldn’t shake the idea of space solar power. He did some modest space solar power experiments himself and even got a grant from NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts program in 2011. The result was SPS-ALPHA, which Mankins called “the first practical solar power satellite.” The idea, says Mankins, was “to build a large solar-powered satellite out of thousands of small pieces.” His modular design brought the cost of hardware down significantly, at least in principle.
Jaffe, who was just starting to work on hardware for space solar power at the Naval Research Lab, got excited about Mankins’ concept. At the time he was developing a “sandwich module” consisting of a small solar panel on one side and a microwave transmitter on the other. His electronic sandwich demonstrated all the elements of an actual space solar power system and, perhaps most important, it was modular. It could work beautifully with something like Mankins’ concept, he figured. All they were missing was the financial support to bring the idea from the laboratory into space.
Jaffe invited Mankins to join a small team of researchers entering a Defense Department competition, in which they were planning to pitch a space solar power concept based on SPS-ALPHA. In 2016, the team presented the idea to top Defense officials and ended up winning four out of the seven award categories. Both Jaffe and Mankins described it as a crucial moment for reviving the US government’s interest in space solar power.
They might be right. In October, the Air Force Research Lab announced a $100 million program to develop hardware for a solar power satellite. It’s an important first step toward the first demonstration of space solar power in orbit, and Mankins says it could help solve what he sees as space solar power’s biggest problem: public perception. The technology has always seemed like a pie-in-the-sky idea, and the cost of setting up a solar array on Earth is plummeting. But space solar power has unique benefits, chief among them the availability of solar energy around the clock regardless of the weather or time of day.
“If space solar power does work, it is hard to overstate what the geopolitical implications would be,” Jaffe says. “With GPS, we sort of take it for granted that no matter where we are on this planet, we can get precise navigation information. If the same thing could be done for energy, it would be revolutionary.”
Indeed, there seems to be an emerging race to become the first to harness this technology. Earlier this year China announced its intention to become the first country to build a solar power station in space, and for more than a decade Japan has considered the development of a space solar power station to be a national priority. Now that the US military has joined in with a $100 million hardware development program, it may only be a matter of time before there’s a solar farm in the solar system. SOURCE
To conserve life on Earth (as we know it) in the face of climate change, we need a drastic solution, and a growing movement has a bold plan: set aside half of the planet’s surface for just nature. There’s one problem: There are a lot of people already on much of that land.
Setting aside half of Earth’s surface for only nature could directly affect more than 1 billion people, primarily in lower-middle-income countries, according to recent research out of the University of Cambridge. Could we still make it work?
Popularized by biologist E.O. Wilson, who published a book by the same title in 2016, the Half-Earth movement calls to conserve habitats, reverse the species extinction crisis, safeguard biodiversity and ensure the health of our planet in the long-term future. According to the Half-Earth Project, which is associated with the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation, devoting half of the global surface to nature would protect 85% of today’s species from extinction.Wondering what the social and economic consequences of this drastic change would be, the Cambridge scientists looked to assess its effect. To ensure protection for all of Earth’s ecosystems and their relative species, the researchers divided the Earth into 846 discrete “ecoregions,” large, geographical areas defined by their specific habitats, like the Baltic mixed forests or the Great Plains. Then they analyzed global data sets to determine where exactly conservation status could be added to create 50% protection within each ecoregion.
They then calculated how many people currently live in those areas and thus would be directly affected by the Half-Earth proposal. Even while avoiding areas of higher “human footprints” like cities and farmland, the findings, published in the journal Nature Sustainability, suggest that more than 1 billion people will be directly impacted by a Half-Earth strategy.
THE BENEFITS OF NATURE CONSERVATION ARE SHARED AMONG MANY PEOPLE, BUT THE COSTS OFTEN FALL ON A FEW, AND THOSE PEOPLE ARE TYPICALLY QUITE POOR AND MARGINALIZED ALREADY.”
“What kind of impact would depend on the kind of protection implemented,” Chris Sandbrook, a geography lecturer at the University of Cambridge and an author of the journal article, writes in an email. “If people were allowed to live in those areas and continue to harvest some resources, the impact would be relatively minor, whereas if people were removed from the areas and all resource use prevented, the impact would be severe.”
Though the researchers say they recognize the importance of conserving areas on Earth for future life, implementing a Half-Earth plan would “clearly be in conflict” with human activity, they write. And the people most effected would be in developing countries: “The benefits of nature conservation are shared among many people, but the costs often fall on a few, and those people are typically quite poor and marginalized already,” says Sandbrook.
Other researchers have scrutinized Half-Earth’s potential impacts on food production—up to 31% of cropland and 45% of pastureland are at risk of being lost due to that intense level of conservation—as well as its feasibility, considering that hundreds of ecoregions are already in peril with an average of 4% of their natural habitat remaining.
The tricky thing about saving life on Earth is in the balance between conserving nature and allowing humanity to flourish. “On the one hand, all people depend on biodiversity and thriving ecosystems for our food, shelter, clean air and water, and recreational value. So protecting nature is good for people,” says Sandbrook. “However, protecting nature can be very bad for people who are directly affected on the ground—for example if they are evicted to make way for a protected area.”
Half-Earth seems to be growing in popularity as a conservationist movement (The Half-Earth Project did not respond to a request for comment). There’s an annual Half-Earth Day, the most recent of which was held at UC Berkeley in October and was sponsored by the Burt’s Bees Foundation (for the second year in a row). Sustainability researchers and strategic planning experts have written about the Half-Earth Project. But the University of Cambridge researchers say they don’t see Half-Earth supporters addressing the challenge of “how to conserve nature for the benefit of all, without doing excessive harm to the few?” That’s the question they wanted to raise with this paper.
As for Sandbrook specifically, he says he’s not a Half-Earther. “I support the conservation of biodiversity at scale, but in a way that is sympathetic to human needs,” he says. “Humans as part of nature, not separate from it.”
The city of Vancouver has announced a ban on all disposable cups and takeout food containers made of foam. The ban, which will take effect on January 1, 2020, applies to all restaurants, grocery stores, food courts, and special events, and affects prepared foods that are consumed on the premises and packaged as takeout or leftovers. This is exactly one year after New York City’s controversial foam ban went into effect.
“The foam ban applies to all white and coloured polystyrene foam cups and foam take-out containers that are used for serving prepared food or beverages, including but not limited to plates, cups, bowls, trays, cartons, and hinged (‘clamshell’) or lidded containers.”
The ban could affect a broad range of foods, including “soups, stews, curries, sushi, fried food, sauces, salads, deli foods, or sliced veggies meant to be eaten without further cooking.”
This foam ban is just one of the actions Vancouver is taking to reduce single-use item waste in support of its zero-waste goal for 2040. Other actions include banning plastic and compostable plastic straws by next April, offering only bendable ones to meet accessibility requirements and allowing a year’s grace period for bubble tea sellers to find alternatives; handing out single-use cutlery only upon request; and banning all plastic grocery bags by January 2021, including compostable ones.
This is the first city apart from San Francisco that I’ve heard of cracking down on compostable plastics, and it makes me very happy. Numerous studies have shown that compostable and biodegradable plastics are not a viable solution to the plastics pollution problem, that they fail to break down in the environment and still pose a real threat to wildlife. And yet, many locales – such as the island of Capri with its recent single-use plastic ban – still allow them. Vancouver is wise to ban them at the same time as conventional plastics, which will encourage the kinds of broader behavioral changes that need to occur.
The city offers a list of alternatives on its website, encouraging businesses to communicate with each other to participate in group buying to reduce the cost of new packaging. It suggests embracing new practices that use fewer containers:
“For example, you can ask your dine-in customers if they’d like to have their leftovers packaged in as few single-use containers as possible, rather than packaging leftover dishes separately. You can also encourage your dine-in customers to bring their own reusable containers for taking home any leftovers.”
This is happy news that, hopefully, does not meet with too much resistance. The city doesn’t seem worried. Mayor Kennedy Stewart said these bylaws passed by city council “balance public demand for action on disposable items with the needs of those with disabilities and the business community,” so there appears to be support for them. Well done, Vancouver. SOURCE
Construction may have resumed and Trudeau has promised to see TMX through, but it’s the legal delays that look set to hold everything back
With the Federal Court of Appeal set to hold its second hearing on approval of the Trans Mountain Pipeline in December, it may seem that the end is near for the long-running saga.
But the perception could well be illusory. While Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s promise that his minority government will see the pipeline through remains fraught with political difficulties, it is the inexorable delays in the legal process that may present the greatest obstacle to the project’s fruition.
While the court found that Canada had acted in good faith and selected an appropriate consultation framework, the duty to consult had not been adequately discharged and “fell well short of the mark” by failing “to engage, dialogue meaningfully and grapple with the real concern of the Indigenous applicants so as to explore possible accommodation of (their) concerns.”
As a result, the court remitted the matter back to cabinet “to address these flaws and, later, proper redetermination” — effectively mandating a new consultation process while leaving no doubt that the courts were quite willing to review the consultation process exhaustively and to its very end.
“The clear message from the decision is that cutting corners is not on, and that extensive and frequent meetings as well as sitting down and nodding won’t be nearly enough without some meat on the bones of the process,” said Maxime Faille of Gowling WLG in Vancouver, co-counsel for Tsleil-Waututh, one of the First Nations affected.
More than a year after the ruling, however, there’s no end in sight to the legal process.
Virtually immediately, 12 applicants, comprised of eight First Nations, three environmental groups and the City of Vancouver applied for leave to challenge the new approval. The FCA allowed six of the applications — all First Nations — to proceed with challenges to the new consultation that preceded the latest approval.
“The key question for the court is whether the federal government has corrected the defects found in the first round of consultation,” says Matthew Kirchner, counsel to the Squamish Nation, one of the successful applicants.
The FCA is scheduled to hear the case in December, and if the court takes as long to render a decision as it did the first time around — about 11 months — November 2020 will be on the horizon.
But even that may be optimistic.
It turns out that three applicants who didn’t get leave in the FCA as well as two of the applicants who succeeded but found the ruling too narrow in scope have sought leave to appeal the Federal Court’s refusal to hear them to the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC). That could well delay the hearing on the merits scheduled for December in the FCA.
The key question for the court is whether the federal government has corrected the defects found in the first round of consultation —Matthew Kirchner, counsel to the Squamish Nation
But whenever the FCA rules on the second consultation process, it’s unlikely that everyone will be satisfied with the decision, meaning that another round of applications for leave to appeal to the SCC will follow, adding at least six months to the process.
And if leave is granted, tack on another 12-24 months for the court to hear the appeal and render a decision. The upshot is that it’s likely to be near the end of 2022 before the court case is done.
Unfortunately, a favourable result for Trans Mountain in the courts won’t necessarily mark the end of the regulatory process.
What is known as the “detailed route hearing” process must follow approval. The NEB started this process after the first cabinet approval but suspended it after the FCA’s first decision overturned it. If the pipeline is finally approved by the courts, the CER will continue the process.
The Crown Corporation resumed construction on the expansion project in August, and work is under way at the Westridge and Burnaby Terminals and at pump stations in Alberta.
Construction is expected to begin shortly in Greater Edmonton and Yellowhead, as crews are finishing up pre-construction activities and environmental surveys in the area, the company said in an email to the Financial Post.
“We have received more than half of the pipe needed for construction and are staging it at storage yards along the route,” the company said, adding that the 2,200 workers have already been hired. “Our contractors have been ordering and receiving equipment, surveying and staking and doing everything possible to be ready to start construction in the other areas as soon as possible.”
As the Federal Court of Appeal case makes its way through the court, the company plans to continue with all aspects of planning and construction.
“The applications are challenging the decisions made by the Canada Energy Regulator and the Federal Government, but do not in and of themselves negate the pre-existing approvals provided by those governmental authorities until and unless the court rules otherwise,” the company said.
But it won’t be simple.
Both the Coldwater Indian Band, also represented by Kirchner, and the City of Chilliwack have filed statements of opposition to the routing of the project. Coldwater, supported by WaterWealth, a Chilliwack based citizen-driven advocacy group, maintains that the pipeline’s route will have adverse effects on the Band’s water sources.
In support, Coldwater’s expert hydrogeologist insists that a proper study of the pipeline’s effect on water sources need to be done over a period of time so that appropriate baseline data can be collected. Proponents of the pipeline, including the federal government, say that isn’t necessary.
That dispute could, in turn, set off its own run of legal proceedings.
Perhaps no one should be surprised at the plethora of twists and turns.
After all, as Thomas Issac in Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP’s Vancouver office points out, Trans-Mountain is the “most consulted-upon project” in Canadian history.
“Even the highly controversial Northern Gateway pipeline didn’t have all the different and difficult maneuvering around Trans Mountain,” he said. “So the people who want to see this through are going to require a lot of fortitude — because the other side has plenty.”
‘Logging scars’ blight up to 25% of formerly logged areas
Canada partly relies on forests to capture carbon
Aerial photography shows scarring left by logging operations – the vestigial remains of roads, landings, and turnoffs meant to accommodate heavy machinery – in Ontario forests. Photograph: Wildlands League
Canada’s logging industry has a larger and more damaging impact on forest health than previously thought, a new report has found, casting doubt on the sustainability of forestry management in the country.
In a report released on Wednesday, the Toronto-based conservation group Wildlands League found that “logging scars” – the vestigial remains of roads, landings and turnoffs meant to accommodate heavy machinery – suppress forest regeneration. Because the dirt roads are so heavily compacted, seedlings have little chance of successfully repopulating the area.
Using drones to survey the 27 sites in northern Ontario, Trevor Hesselink, a land-use planner and former forestry policy analyst, found that the scars made up anywhere from 10% to nearly 25% of the areas where forests had once been logged.
“The extent of the scarring, and getting on the ground to see the longevity of the suppression effect, surprised me the most,” Hesselink told the Guardian.
Wildlands estimates that nearly 650,000 hectares of forest in Ontario – eight times the area of New York City – have been lost in last three decades due to scarring.
While the province makes up a small part of the country’s overall logging industry, Hesselink and his team believe the long-term damage to forests is probably more common than many realize. The practice of “full tree harvest” – where entire trees are cut down and moved to a landing area to be processed – is also used in western provinces, where the logging industry is more widespread.
“We’ve been told over and over that Canada has a near-zero deforestation rate,” said Janet Sumner, Wildlands League’s executive director. “But it wasn’t what we were seeing in the bush. So we took a closer look. And now we know.”
Hesselink’s findings also call into question Canada’s calculations of carbon sequestration from its forests. The lost carbon storage could be as high as 41 megatons by 2030 – or an entire year’s worth of passenger vehicle emissions in Canada.
“As long as these logging scars are suppressing the natural renewal of forest, they’re forgoing carbon that could removed from the atmosphere,” said Hesselink. SOURCE
ANALYSIS: Ontario’s auditor general says the Tory climate-change plan assumes imaginary reductions — and still won’t meet the province’s own targets
This year’s annual report from Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk was released Wednesday at Queen’s Park. (Nathan Denette/CP)
The Tories haven’t actually had a lot of good days on the climate file recently, but the problems they’re facing today are entirely of their own making. It was the Progressive Conservative government that abolished the position of the environmental commissioner and folded that office into the auditor general’s. If the Tories thought that move would defang some of their critics, this year’s annual report from Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk, released Wednesday, has proved them wrong.
In its substantial investigation into the “made in Ontario” climate-change plan, announced last year, Lysyk’s office found that the government has substantially overestimated the benefits of its climate policies and (bizarrely, given that this is an allegedly penny-pinching leadership) failed to count any of the broader economic costs. It’s also been crediting itself with the benefits of policies it had already cancelled by the time the climate plan went to press — for example, it’s assumed a massive uptake in electric-vehicle purchases, even though cancelling EV incentives was among the government’s first orders of business. SOURCE