Several years after replanting, the failure of the trees to thrive is evident. This photo was taken in September 2020 in a replanted cut-block in Peachlalnd’s watershed.

The Forest Practices Board has released its Special Investigation into Reforestation in the Interior Douglas-fir Subzone, which comprises the Okanagan Valley and our watershed.

“This special investigation found that site-level practices of logging licensees met the current legal requirements for reforestation in the Forest and Range Practices Act and that, more recently, the species being planted has shifted away from primarily lodgepole pine to more resilient mixed species, which is positive. However, over 60 percent of the cutblocks examined were in poor and marginal condition and licensees may not be creating/regenerating resilient stands, which may have negative implications for future timber and non-timber values.”

They also found that “reforestation is only meeting minimum targets and where licensees are not using best management practices that could improve reforestation success. For example, there is an over-reliance on clear-cutting as a silviculture system, which is not appropriate for dry-belt-fir stands, as young trees do not regenerate well without the shade and shelter of overstory trees.”

With massive clear-cuts happening in our watershed, including some that individually complied with regulations, but collectively resulted in large cut blocks many times over the “legal limit” (Wilson Lake area), the proof of ecological damage is mounting.

As a growing body of research confirms that there are a myriad of environmental issues with clear-cutting forests, this reports adds more reasons to rethink logging practices to take into consideration the ecological impacts first, not economic ones. Bad decisions amongst licensees when it comes to replanting are also limiting their own success in the future, taking jobs as well as the forests. Combine this with the impacts of climate change and it points to the continued devastation of our forests, ecosystems; natural resources; and the entire logging industry.