Clearcut­ting could have neg­a­tive im­pacts, says en­vi­ron­men­tal group

Still un­known whether pel­let plant op­er­a­tion on the Great North­ern Penin­sula would use clearcut­ting


NORTH­ERN PENIN­SULA, NL — An en­vi­ron­men­tal group is ad­vis­ing the Canadian gov­ern­ment to pro­tect the bo­real for­est from clearcut­ting.

And that’s a topic that may be of in­ter­est to res­i­dents on the Great North­ern Penin­sula.

The Na­tional Re­sources De­fense Coun­cil (NRDC) is an in­ter­na­tional non-profit en­vi­ron­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tion head­quar­tered in New York City, with three mil­lion mem­bers and on­line ac­tivists.

Their anal­y­sis has in­di­cated that clearcut­ting in Canada’s bo­real for­est wors­ens cli­mate change.

And one of their an­a­lysts has told the North­ern Pen it af­fects lo­cal life as well.

The NRDC says clearcut­ting “un­leashes sig­nif­i­cant emis­sions of car­bon diox­ide locked in soil, cre­at­ing a threat to the global cli­mate cri­sis.

“Clearcut­ting de­grades and dis­turbs the bo­real for­est’s abil­ity to store car­bon, by re­mov­ing most liv­ing trees and dam­ag­ing for­est soils and peat­lands in the process,” ac­cord­ing to an NRDC press re­lease.

The Great North­ern Penin­sula has a bo­real for­est like most of Canada. Clearcut­ting on the penin­sula could also have a more lo­cal­ized im­pact, says

Josh Ax­el­rod, a pol­icy an­a­lyst with NRDC’s Canada Pro­ject.

“It’s done by heavy ma­chin­ery, re­quires build­ing a lot of roads,” he said. “It can be done bet­ter than other ways, but the way it’s done in a lot of the bo­real that we’ve seen is to dis­turb a lot of the soils, to dis­turb the other plant mat­ter be­sides the trees, and it then takes the for­est a very long time to re­cover.”

Ax­el­rod be­lieves, in many cases, it could take 120 or more years for the for­est to re­cover com­pletely af­ter clearcut­ting – if it ever comes back, he adds.

He says you can also see neg­a­tive changes to lo­cal wet­lands, peat­lands, rivers and streams when clearcut­ting is con­ducted.

These sen­ti­ments echoed those ex­pressed by Le­an­der Pil­grim, a for­mer Main Brook mayor and a res­i­dent with a life­time of ex­pe­ri­ence in the in­dus­try, in pre­vi­ous edi­tions of the North­ern Pen.

“You’re flat­ten­ing ev­ery­thing,” said Pil­grim. “The ter­rain is torn to pieces with this heavy equip­ment and there’s not a hope in hell for it to re­pop­u­late in the time of our chil­dren and grand­chil­dren.”

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