Our soils are starved.
Forest soils over 50 per cent of our landmass are losing more nutrients than are being replaced by rainfall or natural weathering of rocks.
Think acid rain. Our soils are shallow; they lie on slate, granite and felsic bedrock, and have no buffering capacity against industrial acid rain. Southwest Nova Scotia is in the worst shape.
Now think clear-fells. Clear-cutting worsens the effects of acid rain by increasing nutrient losses. Remove wood and bark, stems and stumps and the land is laid bare – open to erosion and further leaching. It’s a no-win situation.
No climate issues, no food production concerns – whether sustainable agriculture, denuded energy resources, runaway climate change – can be fixed without addressing the issues of forest health because forest soils are the foundation for everything.
And that’s the thing. Our forests have a far higher and longer-term value than the crude market price placed on them by government. Productive soils, clean air, clean water, our social and economic well-being: all derive from healthy forests and a healthy forest floor. We need vision to sustain them, not the short-term asset stripping we see everywhere.
Biologist David Patriquin outlines the dismal story in this article from the Chronicle Herald.
The price paid in the aquatic realm began upstream. Salmon, brook trout, loons, sugar maple, salamander, songbirds: the losses are too high. The points of the ecosystem triangle – complex interactions between soils, forests and the wider environment – no longer match up. Stay the course and the future is grim. Heed the science and at least we have a chance.