Carbon sink potential of the Discovery Islands
TREES ARE CREATED BY PHOTOSYNTHESIS, a process driven by the energy in sunlight in which carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and water from the ground are combined to produce a tree's cellular structure. In the process, oxygen is released to the atmosphere. The carbon removed from the atmosphere can be safely stored in a tree for hundreds of years. The ability of forests to absorb and store carbon is called their carbon sequestration capacity. Forests that absorb more carbon than they emit are known as a carbon sink.
Intensive logging of BC forests has greatly reduced our forests' carbon sequestration capacity, from xx megatonnes per year in 2000 to YY megatonnes in 2018. Yet this natural process for removing carbon from the atmosphere is the least costly, most effective form of reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Logging forests in BC hasn't just reduced their carbon sequestration capacity. Logging results in an immense, premature release of carbon back to the atmosphere. That release takes several forms. Forty to sixty percent of a forest's biomass is left in the clearcut when it's logged, wasted. The products that are created from the logs that are removed, from toilet paper to finishing lumber, all begin to decompose as soon as they are made. The forest soil in an area that has been clearcut, when exposed directly to sunlight and higher temperatures, begins to decompose and release more carbon. Lastly, clearcut logging and plantation regrowth, combined with the higher summer temperatures and longer periods of drought that global heating have produced, are making forest fires burn larger areas and burn more intensely. In BC, carbon emissions from forest fires have doubled every nine years since 2000.
In Canada, we're all now required to pay a carbon tax on our use of gasoline, diesel and propane. Shouldn't logging companies be required to pay a carbon tax for the emissions they create from clearcutting forests?
Addressing the climate crisis requires both lowering emissions and absorbing more carbon from the atmosphere. The high potential for carbon sequestration on the Discovery Islands is indicated by the presence of very large trees (and stumps) that can still be found on parts of the islands that weren't logged. These islands may have immense potential for storing carbon safely for hundreds of years. Turning that potential into hard information about employment opportunities is part of the work this project is undertaking.