Photo: Wildsight.ca

Photo: Wildsight.ca

Protect the Columbia Wetlands, protect B.C. wildlife

Columbia Wetlands a key stopover and breeding ground for birds, and helps connect sensitive species

The Columbia Wetlands, an internationally recognized and highly sensitive ecosystem, is the next target of B.C.’s logging industry.

Canfor is proposing to log in the fragile Columbia Wetlands Wildlife Management Area (WMA).

Pitched as a beetle salvage logging operation, the company’s efforts will do little to stop the spread of Fir Bark Beetle but will do significant harm to the sensitive ecosystem here.

Wildlife in B.C. is in crisis; if they can’t be prioritized in one of the most important wetland complexes in North America and a provincially designated Wildlife Management Area, where will they be given priority?

The Columbia Wetlands are the largest intact wetlands in southern B.C.

Rich in plant and animal life, this 180 km-long wetland, stretching from Columbia Lake to Donald, is home to more than 300 species of animals, 65 of which are designated species at-risk.

World-renowned for its beauty and biodiversity, the Columbia Wetlands is also a key stopover and breeding ground for migratory birds, and helps connect sensitive species such as grizzly bears moving across larger landscapes.

WMAs are provincially-designated areas designed to protect fish and wildlife species or their habitats.

Canfor’s proposed logging west of Castledale, 50 km south of Golden, entirely overlaps with the ~17,000 ha. Columbia Wetlands WMA.

While Canfor argues this is salvage logging to address beetle-affected trees — an issue endemic in the area but also increasing with changing climate — this action will not help the problem.

Logging in the WMA will not control the beetle infestation.

The infestation is already advanced and the beetles will likely be elsewhere by the time any logging occurs.

The proposed logging will further fragment mature forest adjacent to the wetlands and result in further losses to habitat and connectivity for species like grizzly bears and migratory birds.

The proposed salvage logging will also require invasive new roads penetrating an area designed to protect wildlife, and will remove dead trees that provide valuable habitat for the hundreds of species that rely on this intact ecosystem.

Robyn Duncan has been with Wildsight since 2006. Born in Kimberley, she has a combined MSc-MA in Global Economics from the London School of Economics and the University of Vienna, and a BA in International Development from Dalhousie University. Photo: Wildsight

Robyn Duncan has been with Wildsight since 2006. Born in Kimberley, she has a combined MSc-MA in Global Economics from the London School of Economics and the University of Vienna, and a BA in International Development from Dalhousie University. Photo: Wildsight

The timber values pale in comparison to the value that the forested areas within the wetlands provide to maintain the rich biodiversity of this globally recognized area.

We urgently request that the proposed logging within the WMA not be approved, and for the Columbia Wetlands WMA to be removed from the Timber Harvesting Land Base.

For more information, contact: robyn@wildsight.ca, 250.432.5422.

Robyn Duncan,

Wildsight, executive director

Columbia BasinLetter to the Editor