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News Release: Alberta’s Southern Forests: More than a Source of Timber

September 26, 2017

Improving the management Alberta’s southwestern forests has been the goal of a group of concerned community members and conservationists for many years. Today, the group published an open letter to the government to express their belief that forest management must prioritize a broader set of values than timber production. Their recommendations include:

  • developing recreation, tourism, and forestry practices that are sustainable for future generations;
  • improving public consultation processes; and
  • ensuring management decisions assist species at risk recovery.

“The ongoing decline of native trout species is an indicator of the impacts current forest management practices have on wildlife,” says Nick Pink, Alberta Wilderness Association conservation specialist. “The forests of the southern slopes need to be managed with an ecosystem-based approach that does not prioritize timber production over all other values.”

“As a community affected by forestry, we know that Alberta’s forests are a valuable public resource that deserves more meaningful public discussions about their use,” says Sharon MacDonald of the Ghost Valley community. “Logging decisions can seem to be made behind closed doors, often years before timber harvest occurs. With our rapidly evolving climate, economy, and demographics, Alberta requires an improved consultation process, one in which the public’s current concerns actually help shape timber harvest design.”

“People value older forests for their aesthetic appeal and their unique biodiversity,” says Ralph Cartar, Associate Professor at the University of Calgary. “Nature provided us with forests of a broad range of ages that span hundreds of years, containing a wealth of biodiversity reflecting forest age. Alberta’s current forest managers openly plan to dramatically transform Alberta’s “working forests” from their natural state of roughly 40% being older than 100 years to roughly 0% of the landscape being older than 100 years. This so-called “sustainable management” is a profound departure from the natural condition, and the expected loss in biodiversity, recreation, aesthetics, and water conservation is grossly short-sighted. We need forest management to be sustainable, and current forest management is anything but.”

Sustainable Forests and Communities: Calling for the Sustainable Future of Southern Alberta’s Headwaters was sent to the Government of Alberta on September 25, 2017. You can access the full document here.

For more information:

Nick Pink, Alberta Wilderness Association, (403) 283-2025

Sharon MacDonald, Ghost Valley Community, (403) 200-1290

Ralph Cartar, (403) 220-3640

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