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Home > Innovation and New Technology > Issues > Land Use: Forestry vs. Oil

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Land Use: Forestry vs. Oil 

Listen to the Eco-FilesWhile the forestry industry has been working hard to make Alberta's forests sustainable, oftentimes their hard work is undone by the oil and gas industry using the same land. The forestry industry has changed a lot of its practices over the last decade because of the issues surrounding biodiversity in the forest. When oil and gas companies explore in these same areas they often aren't aware of these issues and the forest still ends up being the loser in the end. Unlike the forestry industry, which has a direct stake in keeping the forests healthy, the oil and gas companies don't benefit directly from adopting environmentally sound development practices.

Gas Plant near Crooked Lake

So, what needs to be done to ensure the biodiversity of forests ends up top priority? The answer to that question is not a simple one. One issue lays in the planning. The forestry industry plans decades, even hundreds of years in advance to ensure that the forest resources will continue to be available. The oil and gas industry, on the other hand, plans only weeks or months before going into the forest. Because of the fierce competition between companies, the oil and gas industry often keeps their plans secret, also. These factors make it very difficult for the forestry and oil and gas industries to work together to save forest biodiversity.

Another issue, which is much easier to fix, is roads. Both industries cut down trees to make roads to access the area where their resource development is taking place. Excess roads make it easier for regular people to get into these previously inaccessible areas, affecting the plant and wildlife of these areas. Two roads also means two disturbances, possibly through critical habitat areas. Both industries are currently working together to make use of the same roads.

Some say education is the key to keeping biodiversity in the forest top priority. However, as mentioned earlier, besides an environmental conscience there is no direct benefit for the oil and gas company to value biodiversity. Listen to the accompanying EcoFile to learn more about land use and the fight for biodiversity.

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