Canada has the dubious distinction of being a world leader in tar sands oil production and now the country can add deforestation to its environmental rap sheet. Part of this loss is attributable to the clearing of forests for tar sands exploitation.
According to a new report, the largest portion of forest degradation is in Canada. Canada has now replaced Brazil as the global leader in virgin forest depletion.
“Canada is the number one in the world for the total area of the loss of intact forest landscapes since 2000,” Peter Lee, of Forest Watch Canada, said in an interview. According to Lee this trend is attributable to fires, logging and energy and industrial development.
Like many other environmental issues, ruling Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Conservative government have shown very little interest in managing the issue.
“There is no political will at federal or provincial levels for conserving primary forests,” Lee said. “Most logging done in Canada is still to this day done in virgin forests.”
The report on the earth’s forest coverage was compiled from satellite images. The research was conducted by scientists from the University of Maryland, Greenpeace, Global Forest Watch and the World Resources Institute. Their findings show that the pace of decline is accelerating with the loss of more than 104 million hectares (about 8.1 per cent of global undisturbed forests) from 2000 to 2013.
Forests are acknowledged as being our best defense against climate change yet the world’s forests continue to be decimated at an alarming rate. As explained by Dr. Nigel Sizer of the World Resources Institute, if this rate of degradation continues, it will “lead to destruction of most remaining intact forests this century.”