New Report Demonstrates High Risk to Upper Highwood Watersheds Should Logging Go Ahead

While we are grateful that the 1,100-hectare clearcut planned for the Upper Highwood in Kananaskis remains paused, we also know that we haven’t heard the last of this project — and that our efforts to ensure the clearcut does not proceed must continue. 

We are therefore pleased to release a technical watershed assessment of the proposed logging prepared by Dave Mayhood of Freshwater Research Limited and our own Conservation Science and Program Manager, Josh Killeen

In Alberta, both government and industry like to claim that they’re using the latest science to assess the risk that forestry projects present to our province’s watersheds. 

The reality? They’re using a single metric — called Equivalent Clearcut Area (ECA) — that was originally conceived of in the previous century by researchers who have since emphasized that it is NOT an appropriate metric to be used on its own for watershed analysis.  

What does this mean? In short, that government and industry are not adequately assessing the risk that forestry projects present to our invaluable, and increasingly in-demand and under threat, watersheds — and, by extension, the at-risk aquatic species who inhabit these ecosystems. 

It’s worth noting that this report was prepared for one watershed, by only two individuals — and it’s still far more detailed than what multi-million dollar companies are required to compile in order to assess the environmental impacts of what can amount to large-scale and permanent reduction in Alberta’s forest cover. 

We need to do better, and detailed risk assessments must happen across our entire headwaters — not just for one project, and not just in the Highwood.   

Click here to read the report in full.

Related Links

  1. Understanding Forestry in Alberta
  2. Learn More about the Upper Highwood Clearcut
  3. Mapping the Upper Highwood Clearcut
  4. Our Letter to the Government of Alberta and Spray Lake Sawmills
  5. eDNA Study Confirms Presence of Bull Trout in Loomis Creek

Photo Credit: Amber Toner