Leaked report calls for science-based standards

June 5, 2002

Stability of Alberta’s Forestry Sector at Risk

Leaked report calls for science-based standards A report prepared for the Alberta Government but never released to the public has a stern warning: The stability of Alberta’s forestry sector is at risk unless a more rigorous, science-based process is adopted to predict forest growth.

In August 2000, the government appointed seven scientists to the Alberta Reforestation Standards Science Council (ARSSC) to review the scientific basis of forest regeneration policy in Alberta. The government promised to post the report on its website for public input in July 2001, but the report is still being withheld from the public.

The report focuses on Alberta’s standards for forest regeneration (or regrowth), which are at the heart of sustainable forest management. Regeneration activities impact not only the long-term sustainability of forests, but also the economic viability of forestry operations.

The report notes that “a critical shortcoming of the standards is their failure to be linked to any model forecasting the growth and yield of regenerated stands” (of trees). This means that forest volume may not be sustained after cutting. “It’s clear that the government’s standards for reforestation are not rooted in science,” said Debby Carlson, Liberal environment critic. “It’s shameful that the government has been sitting on this report for nearly a year, while they ridicule the Liberals’ repeated calls for science-based forestry standards and practices. This report should be a wake-up call that action is needed now. “

Carlson is extremely concerned about the report’s finding that the government’s current regeneration standards have “the primary goal of timber production,” and the “inherent emphasis is on ensuring a timber supply rather than addressing non-timber concerns, especially at the landscape level.”

“Timber objectives should not be isolated from biodiversity objectives,” said Carlson. “If all we were concerned about was timber inventory * then all we would need in this province are tree farms. There would be no forests.” Other key findings of the report include:

· No monitoring protocol in place to assess whether stands are expected to achieve the broader forest and landscape level objectives in the Detailed Forest Management Plan.

· The Alberta government should immediately establish a Forest Science Board to guide the increasingly complex requirements of determining sustainable harvest levels and meeting other social concerns.

· Responsibility for reforestation of forest lands burned by wildfire and logged is not clear. It is still possible to salvage-log stands that contain a large volume of commercial wood without a commitment to regenerate the stands.

For Further Information:

Colleen Wilson Director of Communications Official Opposition of Alberta Phone: 780-427-0899 Colleen.Wilson@assembly.ab.ca.