Clearcutting in the Kananaskis.

Clearcutting in the Kananaskis.
Photo Credit: Alberta Wilderness Association

Alberta government approves controversial clear cut of forest

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In a highly controversial move the government in Alberta has given a green light to a forestry company to clear cut a forest in the Kananaskis area of the province.

The region, southwest of the urban centre of Calgary, will see some 255 hectares clear cut, roughly the size of 255 international size rugby or sports fields, or 2.5 million square metres.

Neil Williams is spokesperson for the Stand Up for the Upper Highwood group, formed this year to fight the logging proposal. He said he’s surprised and disappointed that the Alberta government has approved the clearcutting.
Neil Williams is spokesperson for the Stand Up for the Upper Highwood group, formed this year to fight the logging proposal. He said he’s surprised and disappointed that the Alberta government has approved the clearcutting. © Bryan Labby/CBC

The New Democratic Party government gave the go-ahead despite pleas from nearby communities, and environmental and conservation groups.

They had sought an investigation into the effects of logging on the local ecosystems including the Highwood River watershed, local wildlife, drinking water, and on tourism.

Planned logging area in the Kananaskis along the Highwood River is southwestern Alberta
Planned logging area in the Kananaskis along the Highwood River is southwestern Alberta

Katie Morrison of Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS). Was quoted by the CBC saying,   “We’re not asking for no forestry anywhere on the eastern slopes or anywhere in that region, but we’re saying let’s take a pause and really assess what’s appropriate for this area”.

Photo of the Highwood area to be clearcut
Photo of the Highwood area to be clearcut © Alberta Liberal Party

Earlier this year Stephen Legault, program director at the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative  (Y2Y) had expressed similar concerns.

Quoted by the Calgary Herald, he said, “over the long term, we need to have conversations about our watersheds. Kananaskis Country is where Calgary and High River and other municipalities downstream get their water from. We want to have those conversations.”

Oneil Carlier, Alberta’s minister of agriculture and forestry, says logging plans in the Highwood Junction area were changed to address concerns raised by various stakeholders.
Oneil Carlier, Alberta’s minister of agriculture and forestry, says logging plans in the Highwood Junction area were changed to address concerns raised by various stakeholders. © Rod Maldaner/CBC

The provincial Agriculture and Forestry Minister Oneil Carlier  insists that concerns have been taken into account noting for example  that buffer zones have been increased, more trees will be left in cutblocks (10% vs 1%).

 2014 Image showing results of clearcut logging of the Whiskey Jack Forest, part of Grassy Narrows First Nation’s traditional territory in Ontario
2014 Image showing results of clearcut logging of the Whiskey Jack Forest, part of Grassy Narrows First Nation’s traditional territory in Ontario © Freegrassy.ne

He also said that a watershed assessment has shown that effects on drinking water and at-risk or threatened fish species will be low.

Others such as area trapper Justin Sjogren claim instead that negotiations with the logging company and with the government have been frustrating.

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2 comments on “Alberta government approves controversial clear cut of forest
  1. ursula wagner says:

    Not that is really very impotant, I still want to say, that the court situation
    of the activists against the cutting of trees were in the early 90 ies.

    I went so often to Canada, that I got mixed up.

  2. ursula wagner says:

    Agriculture ministers all over the world seem to have a very controversial attitude.

    Instead of cutting down trees, whole woods for profit we should look at them with
    respect and reverence.
    They are our lungs.
    In all cultures trees have a very special meaning since ages.

    When I have visited Newfoundland and Labrador in the very early 80ies, I have
    been in a visitor centre where they were collecting money to safe the rainforest
    in South America.
    At the same time activists, probably from Greenpeace, where in court in Alberta
    or B.C., that I don`t remember anymore, because of their protesting again the
    cutting of trees………I have seen it on tv.

    Nowadays we complain and watch with great concern the clearcut for the production
    of soya and palm oil and other reasons.

    To stop that too would help to stop climate change.

    If we will ever learn?