Boreal

WCS Canada Comments - Forest Degradation (followup 2)

Harris, L., Poley, L., Ray, J. & Cooke, H.


Abstract

WCS Canada’s recommendations to the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers on the draft definition of the term “forest degradation”. This follows a workshop in June, and submission of previous comments in April and July 2023.

Key points

  1. We are pleased to see the removal of ‘lasting’ and ‘significant’ impacts from the revised draft definition but remain concerned that the definition is still focused solely on ‘direct anthropogenic’ impacts.
  2. The revised draft definition continues to overlook ecological integrity as a benchmark and corollary of forest degradation.
  3. The socioeconomic indicators for forest productivity in the context of industrial production and harvesting listed in the table (i.e., growing stock, proportion of timber harvested area successfully regenerated, harvest volume relative to growth, value and volume of wood products, employment in the forest sector, employment rate in forest-based communities) are not appropriate measures of forest integrity and degradation.
  4. While we welcome the inclusion of carbon storage and cycling as a potential indicator for forest integrity, it is important to understand that carbon cycling in forests is dynamic and complex, and that the total amount of carbon stored within a forest is not a good indicator of the ecological integrity of a forest.
  5. The list of indicators is limited in scope, with key indicators for industrial human disturbance missing from the list (e.g., roads and other infrastructure).
  6. We recommend a review of the proposed indicators and metrics for forest degradation.
  7. The revised draft definition and suggested indicators are still viewed almost exclusively from a lens of forest management.
  8. International alignment still needs strengthening.

Recommended citation

Harris, L., Poley, L., Ray, J. & Cooke, H. (2023). WCS Canada Comments - Forest Degradation (followup 2). WCS Canada. https://wcscanada.org/resources/wcs-canada-comments-forest-degradation-followup-2/

Lorna Harris

Lorna Harris

Director of Forests, Peatlands and Climate Change Program

Lucy Poley

Lucy Poley

Canada KBA Ecosystems Criteria Coordinator

Justina Ray

Justina Ray

President & Senior Scientist

Hilary Cooke

Hilary Cooke

Co-Director, Northern Boreal Mountains Program