Studies reveal: When you mess with native forests, they become more flammable. Commercial logging of moist native forests creates conditions that increase the severity and frequency of bushfires. Is it simply a coincidence, that the province which has the highest rates of deforestation, is suffering from the worst forest fires in our country?
Imagine a Forest
Imagine this: one to three hundred years ago, a natural untouched forest, with hundreds of millions of enormous trees, whose roots held in large amounts of moisture in the ground. At nightfall, water vapor fills the air, forming a natural fog, while the trees and vegetation release their moisture via evapotranspiration. The whole forest is wet and humid, with the natural vegetation that surrounds it, and the moss that grows on the tree, thriving in the humid environment. How likely is a fire to start here?
Now, fast forward to three hundred years later, where the logging industry is cutting down billions of trees each year, milling and exporting Canadian lumber in vast amounts. Roads are paved through the forests to allow lumber trucks to pass, while the forest is losing its trees in many areas, causing the ground to eventually dry up over the years - many unwanted trees simply left uprooted, only to dry out and act as tinder for fire. Trees are replanted each year, but not enough to replace the lost trees, and not even close to their age and size.
All these trees, for many years, are what kept the ground moist, creating microclimates within the forest, preventing massive fires - now, they are uprooted in millions each year, creating dry pockets, as the dry ground becomes more prone to fire. Keep this term, dry pockets, in mind, because you will be seeing it a lot. It's the same problem, anywhere you go in the world, whether it be the Amazon, China, or Russia, where the chopping down of trees has become the norm. Welcome to the world of deforestation.
|A simple Google image search: Deforestation before and after|
There have been a number of studies done on the relationship between deforestation and forest fires. They all seem to conclude the same thing: deforestation is causing our forests to become more prone to wildfires. Here's what an interesting study entitled, Effects of logging on fire regimes in moist forests, has to say on the topic:
Logging can change forests in at least five interrelated ways that could influence wildfire frequency, extent and/or severity. These include changing: (1) microclimates,(2) stand structure and species composition, (3) fuel characteristics, (4) the prevalence of ignition points, and (5) patterns of landscape cover.
Do you recall us discussing the old forests and their microclimates that have changed over the years? Here is what another study has to say on the topic, entitled, Logging makes forests more flammable:
There was also an interesting study done in the central region of the Brazilian Amazon. For simplicity's sake, we have pulled out some important information. In this study, entitled, Deforestation-Induced Fragmentation Increases Forest Fire Occurrence in Central Brazilian Amazonia, it states:
Forest edges resulting from landscape fragmentation are highly fire-prone due to increased
dryness, higher fuel load compared to forest interior and proximity to ignition sources from adjacent
management areas. Fragmentation and its resulting edge effects may act synergistically
with the ongoing large-scale changes in climate and fire regimes, threatening the Amazonian forest
ecological integrity... Fire density (FD) increased with habitat loss (HL), with greater variability in the higher levels of deforestation ... About 95% of active fires and the most intense ones (FRP > 500 megawatts) were found in the first kilometre from the edges in forest areas [dry pockets] ...We conclude that the susceptibility of the landscape to forest fires increases at the beginning of the deforestation process.
In other words, from a study done in the Amazon, we learned that majority of the active fires and the most intense ones, were found within the first kilometre from the edges of deforested areas, close to those dry pockets. Now, let's do a simple Google image search of "BC fires bird's eye view" and compare the results below. Notice how close these fires are to the edge of deforested areas [dry pockets], where yearly logging has increased ground dryness.
|One study of Amazon deforestation concludes: About 95% of active fires and the most intense ones (FRP > 500 megawatts) were found in the first kilometre from the edges in forest areas [the dry pockets].|
Now people might be thinking, yes, but that study was done in Amazon, and here we are talking about British Columbia, Canada. But, wait a minute. If deforestation is causing wildfires in a much more wet area that receives up to 9,000 mm of rain each year, as compared to a few hundred mm of rainfall in BC, imagine how much more important this study is for drier areas. In other words, if deforestation is causing increasing wildfires in rainforest areas like the Amazon, imagine the havoc that deforestation would be causing in much drier areas, like Canada.
Loss of of natural vegetation and trees, and wetness of the forest floor is causing our ground in certain areas of the forest to dry out and become more prone to fire. The media will have people yapping about global warming, temperature changes, people not putting out their cigars, and record-breaking heat-waves - but not a single mention of lumber industry practices or deforestation, and their effects on the forest and bushfires. What has the continuous logging over the many years done to the vegetation, micro-climate, humidity, and ground of our forests? Think about it.
|Something to be proud of? How many of those ancient giant trees did they cut down?|
|Check out that dry pocket! If that's not tinder for fire, then what is?|
|Current map of fires in BC - Aug 22, 2018. Is it a coincidence that the province which has the highest rates of deforestation is suffering from the worst forest fires in Canada?|
|Imagine how much moisture these giant trees held in the forest. Oh no problem, we'll just replant some tiny trees!|
|A perfect recipe for fire: Logging roads and deforested dry pockets.|
|The media that is owned by our industries and corporations: blame the heatwave, not the logging industry.|
|Do you see the lumber roads and dry pockets?|
|Agriculture also affects our forests. Just imagine how much moisture and shade those trees provide.|
|The studies have been nailing this topic for years now. All right, time to pay a bunch of scientists to put out studies to conclude that logging is good for the forest fires now.|