Between 0.6% and 9.3% of provincial lands exist as more protected wilderness areas, wilderness zones or protected national parks. These protected areas comprise between 48% and 95% of total park lands in the provinces. Commercial timber harvesting occurs in Manitoba’s provincial parks, two Ontario provincial parks, and one national park (Wood Buffalo National Park). Mineral extraction occurs in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Nova Scotia parks. Oil and natural gas wells are found in four Alberta parks, in two Saskatchewan parks and in one Manitoba park.
Over the years, British Columbia’s public forest managers have promoted increasing timber yields from public forests in the belief that more timber volume means more processing, more jobs and therefore greater benefit to society. Timber yields have increased manifold over the years, as new techniques and economies have opened up virtually all of British Columbia’s crown forests to industrial forest management. But a large proportion of the present allowable annual cut (AAC) makes no economic or technical sense. As much as one-fifth of BC’s AAC occurs by government fiat. A central tenet of this policy is utilization standards.
Defining the future demand for wilderness recreation means defining demand – identifying the Ontarians that value Ontario’s wilderness, and the value they place on it – and defining supply – identifying the amount of wilderness available, its accessibility and its value for recreation.
The objective of this study is to determine the cost to society of preserving the Carmanah Creek watershed in its natural state. The cost of preserving the valley is viewed as the cost of forgoing the opportunity to harvest the timber. A complete cost-benefit analysis would compare the economic benefit of logging with the benefit from preserving the timber. Only if the benefits from logging exceed those from preserving should the timber be harvested. But due to the difficulty of measuring intangible non-timber benefits, the cost of the forgone opportunity to harvest the timber is the best measure of the cost of preservation. If the cost of preservation (the benefit of harvesting) is relatively low, then intangible non-timber value are more likely to exceed timber values—the prudent decision would obviously be not to harvest.