The Rainforest Solutions Project has released a report about carbon sequestration in BC's so-called “Great Bear Rainforest” on the Central Coast. The report, titled Ecosystem-Based Management in the Great Bear Rainforest: ‘Defense for Climate and Species, concludes that an “ecosystem-based” approach to logging would maintain old growth forest with approximately 108 million tons of carbon storage.

According to Dr. Rachel Holt, an independent biologist who authored the report, logging this forest under regular forest legislation that applies elsewhere in the province would equate to carbon dioxide emissions three times the province's annual carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels.

Neil Hughes, Forestry Program Manager for Ecotrust Canada, fully agrees that our coastal rainforests “are going to prove to be great carbon sinks because of their long life and relatively pest and fire free lives.”

Hughes argues that Canada's vast boreal forest has a “more tenuous claim” to storing carbon because of the higher frequency of devastating fires and insect infestations that destroy vast areas of forestland which, in turn, releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. A clear distinction needs to be made between coastal rainforests and the boreal in terms of their carbon sequestration potential.

Ecotrust Canada is currently carrying out an assessment of the carbon offset opportunities of Iisaak Forest Resources' Tree Farm Licence in Clayoquot Sound under ecosystem-based management. Iisaak is a native-owned, FSC-certified forestry operator. The study will include both an ecological and financial assessment of the carbon offset opportunities.

“The issue that needs to be explored and researched more fully involves the amount of greenhouse gas emissions released as a result of harvesting and processing timber,” says Hughes. “This is where the debate is heating up between environmentalists and the forest industry. Industry touts wood as a climate friendly product that we should be using everywhere while environmentalists argue that two units of carbon dioxide are released into the atmosphere for every unit that is stored in wood products. I'm hoping that our detailed analysis in Clayoquot Sound will provide more clarity on this important issue.”

The research on carbon sequestration in the rainforests of Clayoquot Sound is expected to be completed later this year.