increase and pressure for economic growth will likely put greater demands on
Alberta's forest resources. The combined effects of natural factors, primarily
fire, and human activities, such as timber harvesting and development of oil and
gas reserves, will result in an inevitable increase in the area disturbed.
logging and oil and gas activity are the major agents of change in Alberta's
forests and this will likely increase in the future. The prevalence of fire may
increase over the next several decades as human activity in the forest increases
(and hence, human-caused fires) and if predictions that global warming will
cause increased forest fire activity are true.
Industrial activity is very much
affected by short-term economic conditions, yet some trends are evident. For
example, logging activity is on the increase as some of the recently built pulp
mills and saw mills are still not up to their full production capacity and some
proposed expansions and new mills are not yet operational. Based on current
harvest rates and methods, favourable markets and the planned growth of the
forest industry, harvesting activity in the decade from 1996 to 2005 may
increase by over 70 percent from the previous decade. This rate of increase will
not continue indefinitely. A new sustainable level will be established once the
new operations are underway.
activity is also expected in the oil and gas industry. Oil sands development is
expanding in the boreal forest and the eventual decline in conventional oil
reserves could lead to an increased oil exploration effort to discover new
deposits and to re-assess known deposits that had previously been uneconomic to
and industry programs are already in place to deal with this increased activity
in the boreal forest, and further adjustments may be needed as the future
unfolds. Adaptive management is a new approach being implemented to continuously
evaluate and adjust Alberta's management methods.
Department of the Environment. State of the Environment Report, Terrestrial Ecosystems. Edmonton: n.p., 2001. With permission from Alberta Environment.