‘A tipping point’: how poor forestry fuels floods and fires in western Canada | Canada

AN devastating string of floods and landslides have shocked residents in British Columbia, a western Canadian province die increasingly forced to struggle with the effects of the climate crisis. As images of the devastation circulates on social media, experts warn that management of the forests of the province will critical to tone down the effects of future storms.

“To be just this awful feeling of being right – and not wanting to be right. This is exactly what the best available science has predicted for years,” says Peter Wood, author of a recent report on the link between clear logging and community safety of the Sierra Club BC. “We know the result if you log steep slopes… You reach sort of a tipping point, where the forest die can no longer provide moderating service of regulate power; of water.”

On Tuesday, more residents were forced to flee from them homes amid periodic landslides and rising water levels. Air overpass videos showed parts of Abbotsford flooded with flood waters. Further north, a section of the Coquihalla highway, one of the province main road systems, seemed to have been cut. Officials say: it can take months before the highway can reopen safely.

Officials said: it can take months before one of The province’s busiest highways reopen after sections were closed destroyed. To save teams also started the search for people whose automay have been buried after a series of mudslides caught vehicles travel east of Vancouver.

‘A tipping point’: how poor forestry fuels floods and fires in western Canada |  Canada
Search and Red personnel help flood evacuees get out of helicopter in Agassiz, British Columbia, on Monday. Photo: Jonathan Hayward/AP

Experts have long warned that clear-cutting affects slope stability rate where water in the soil is absorbed and the ability hold ground in root systems. Without trees, heavy rains can wash away large amounts of sediment in nearby water systems, choking creeks and streams and quickly flooding them.

“About the last a few days I looked at the areas die have been special hard hit, and it just happens to coincide with some of the communities die were the heaviest cut,” says Wood. “A lot of that is because of the mountain pine beetle, but still, the cutting really affects the amount of water that over land flows.”

At the same time, British Columbia has suffered some of the worst seasons of wildfires in recent years. as the aftermath of the storm became clear, a number of the areas die be the worst hit goods also almost burning die tore through the province before in the summer.

Smoke rising by fire at McKay Creek is seen from Lillooet, British Columbia, in June.
Smoke rising by fire at McKay Creek is seen from Lillooet, British Columbia, in June. Photo: Sid Bones-Scotchman/Reuters

“There is a very clear connection between a wildfire and the risk of a landslide of debris flow,” said Thomas Martin, a forester in the province. “If you burn a lot” of the trees, grass and shrubs, there are fewer living creatures to intercept the water. It just flows directly off the hill. And fires can make the soil hydrophobic, increasing runoff even more more.”

The problem for the province does not just that fires get bigger – they are also to get more serious and burning up higher temperatures.

Martin says forest ecologists have long recommended controlled burning, as well as selective logging to thin the forests, allowing larger mature trees to thrive and improve protection against forest fires.

“But there seems to be no political will to do what there is” required. We got it over a large-scale view of the landscape, and how can we adapt our forests to climate change.”

While forest fires were long seen as a summer event, the recent flood has made clear how met the problems are intertwined.

“You have all these indirect effects on the landscape. Landslides have now occurred out two major highways. The whole city of Merritt has been flooded, has lost his drinking water and has been evacuated,” he said. “Would I have predicted that both our key highways would become absolute destroyed in this event? New. But was I surprised that it seems… like both of this watershed events occurred in forest fires? New.”

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