Oil and gas deforestation now three times that of forest industry


The oil boom in Western Canada is having a little publicised effect on the natural environment: deforestation. As we pointed out in a blog[1] back in August last year, the extraction of oil and gas (the raw materials from which plastics are derived) is responsible for more than double the deforestation in Canada than the forest industry.

That’s now jumped to three times greater, according to the latest report from the Canadian Forest Service and Environment Canada, the equivalent area of more than 73,000 hockey rinks.  “Only the oil and gas sector is currently experiencing an increase in deforestation rates,\” says the report. \”Over the next decade these rates are expected to stabilise or increase, although that will depend on how economic conditions affect oil and gas activity”[2].

Deforestation by the forest industry (which has dropped to 8% of the total) comes through the creation of permanent access roads. Otherwise, the industry is not responsible for any net deforestation because it actively regenerates forest by replanting and seeding to meet provincially-set sustainability levels. Currently, timber is being harvested at rates more than 30% below the wood supply considered to mark the sustainable limit.

Deforestation in Canada 20121


[1] How come we don’t hear more about oil and gas deforestation? PPEC blog, August 20, 2013
[2] Canadian Forest Service, Deforestation Monitoring Group; and Environment Canada, National Inventory Report 2013, quoted on page 16 of  The State of Canada’s Forests, Annual Report 2013 by Natural Resources Canada.
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John Mullinder

Executive Director Paper & Paperboard Packaging Environmental Council (PPEC)
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