The Forest For The Trees: Harper’s Fudgey Forestry Figures

I have a feeling that some webpages will be changing significantly in the coming years at the Government of Canada.

“At 0.02% of its forested area, deforestation in Canada is among the world’s lowest”
vs.
“That means human activities disturbed 20,000 hectares of pristine forest every day [worldwide] for the past 13 years,” the group said.

Of that degradation, more than a fifth — 21.4 per cent — occurred in Canada, the study found. That’s more than any other country. ”
That’s 94965000 hectares over those 13 years. At 21.4%, Canada deforested virgin forests covering about 20322510 hectares. Each year that’s 1,563,270 hectares disturbed or gone.
The Harper government, not concerning itself with natural forest, claims these numbers:
“In 1990, 64,000 hectares were lost to deforestation and in 2012 this figure dropped to 45,800 hectares [lost that year].”

How could these two claims be reconciled? Look at the satellite imagery for yourselves, perhaps?

The assumption on the ground in northern Alberta is that everything is fine:

Comparing the Huff Po reported study to the Harper Gov site is challenging, because one focuses on deforestation worldwide and of “disturbed” virgin forest, while the Harper figures focus on deforestation rate reduction. That’s the same technique used to give the impression that carbon emissions were going down, when it was intended to show the rate of the increase was going down. Remember the “intensity targets” trick?

Each view gives a maximized number for the shitty situation. The Forest Watch group gets to give a huge number for any area of disturbed, but not totally destroyed forest, and the Harper government peddled the notion that the rate of destruction was falling sufficiently to allay concerns. To know if the rate of deforestation was falling in a meaningful way, you’d have to calculate if the rate of deforestation takes it to zero before too much virgin forests are lost (which will cause species extinctions and contribute to climate change {causing yet more extinctions}).

source:
Harper Government website:

At 0.02% of its forested area, deforestation in Canada is among the world’s lowest, yet many myths exist about the state of our forests. The reality is that Canada is a world leader in sustainable forest management. Canadian forests are healthy, productive and thriving.

Deforestation is an important issue, since shrinking forest cover reduces biodiversity, affects soil and water quality, impacts wildlife habitat and influences climate change. The Canadian government carefully monitors and regularly publishes reports on deforestation. Our scientists combine satellite and aerial images with information about regional development, forest ecosystems, natural processes and local conditions to help monitor and manage the health of Canadian forests.

Here are some key facts about Canada’s low levels of deforestation.
Myth: Deforestation in Canada is increasing.
Fact: Canada’s deforestation rate is among the lowest in the world.

The annual deforestation rate in Canada in 2010 was less than 0.02% of our forests and the rate has been declining for over 25 years. In 1990, 64,000 hectares were lost to deforestation and in 2012 this figure dropped to 45,800 hectares.

Today, Canada’s 348 million hectares of forest lands represent about 9% of the world’s forest cover, but account for only 0.3% of global deforestation.

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