Embracing multiple landscape values will support local forests, economies, and communities.

  • Published on Aug 15 2017 |
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August 15, 2017

ALBERTA – A new forestry report indicates the need for change in forest planning and forestry practices on the Southern Eastern Slopes of Alberta’s Rocky Mountains. “Envisioning a better way forward for Alberta” by the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS), Southern Alberta Chapter, calls for the shift to an ecosystem-based management model, prioritizing values such as water, biodiversity, connectivity.
Individuals and groups from Calgary, the Ghost, Bragg Creek, Black Diamond, Crowsnest Pass, Livingstone, Lethbridge, Pincher Creek, and Beaver Mines have spoken out strongly against industrial forestry practices that degrade forest health, water security, and detract from wilderness recreation experiences.

“We recognize that forestry plays an important role in Alberta,” says Katie Morrison, Conservation Director with CPAWS Southern Alberta Chapter, “forestry provides benefits that include jobs and building materials. We want to provide some viable, science-based solutions that promote sustainable forestry practices specific to the Southern Eastern Slopes for the benefit of nature and communities.”

The Southern Eastern Slopes, extending from the Red Deer River to the Montana border, contains a mosaic of vegetation and landscapes. Connectivity on this landscape is important for wildlife migration and maintaining natural processes on the land. This region is also home to the headwaters of clean-flowing rivers that provide support to a diverse community of humans, mammals, fish, birds, and insects.

With some of the highest biodiversity in the province, the Southern Eastern Slopes is also home to diverse land-uses. However, the current system of timber-driven harvest increases the density of industrial roads, decreases water quality, changes seasonal runoff patterns, and degrades key wildlife habitats.

The current condition of the Southern Eastern Slopes indicates the need to manage this landscape under an ecosystem-based model. While this does not mean all timber harvest would stop, a critical piece of an ecosystem-based forest management approach is to prioritize a suite of values including water, biodiversity, and connectivity over timber-driven values.

Recommendations for adopting a mandate of ecosystem-based management include:

  • Designating new protected areas on the Southern Eastern Slopes;
  • Maintaining landscape connectivity and integrity;
  • Maintaining natural age structures on a landscape level;
  • Restoring damaged and fragmented areas;
  • Designating areas for recreation and other low-impact land uses;
  • Designating areas for timber management, and implementing site-level ecologically sustainable timber management;
  • Applying adaptive management practices.

These on-the-ground changes would require recognizing the public value of these public lands, and would facilitate increased public input into management decisions. Embracing multiple values will support local economies, communities, and natural functions and processes.

For over 50 years, CPAWS Southern Alberta has been working with all levels of government, and other partners across Alberta to protect more of our public lands. Dedicated to the protection of our public lands and water, we are uniquely positioned to help governments plan for what nature really needs. CPAWS Southern Alberta’s forestry report outlines important steps towards achieving the vision of sustainable forestry in Southern Alberta. 


Read the full report.
For interviews, contact:
Katie Morrison, Conservation Director, CPAWS Southern Alberta, 403-232-6686, kmorrison@cpaws.org