Fire sweeps through the town of Lytton on June 30, 2021. (Photo credit: Jack Zimmerman)

Fire sweeps through the town of Lytton on June 30, 2021. (Photo credit: Jack Zimmerman)

LETTER – B.C. wildfires are a result of the mismanagement of forests

Dear editor,

Forest fires are raging in BC. It’s a common occurrence, but it seems to me that the intensity of the fires is increasing and controlling them is more difficult.

It is time to change the way that the forests are (mis)managed. The current ‘forest’ practices are focused only on wood and its market value resulting in an attitude of “cut as much as you can as quickly as possible!”.

Clearcut logging is currently the common practice. This exposes the soil to excessive heat resulting in the death of soil microbes, small, but vital plants and other organisms. It also results in the soil drying out and losing its ability to hold water. In a rainforest, this is not natural.

If and when the seedlings reach a certain age, the ‘plantations’ are often poisoned to kill off anything that is not going to produce marketable timber, usually targeting deciduous trees and shrubs. Yet these are the plants that help keep the floor cool in the heat of the summer (and provide food and habitat for numerous insects, birds and other animals). The dry plants that are killed by the herbicides are perfect fuel for the fires, quick and easy to ignite. This is also the case with the use of herbicides beside train tracks. If the plants were cut instead of sprayed, they would not ignite as easily because they wouldn’t be dead.

The argument has surely been made that clearcut logging and herbicide use is the most cost-effective method of wood harvesting. But is it? Factor in the cost of fighting fires, the results of polluted water and soil from herbicides, the costs associated with people losing their homes due to forest fires, not to mention the effects on wildlife. I bet if the logging companies had to foot the bills for all of these, they may put a bit more thought and care into their operations.

It’s unfortunate that the logging companies, foresters, BC Timber Sales and the provincial government don’t want to look at the big picture. Forestry should not be only about wood and making a few people wealthy, especially if it is at the expense of wildlife, marine life, soil conditions, water quality, human health and safety.

L. Yoshida

Courtenay

B.C. Wildfires 2021forestryLetter to the Editor