FAQ – Forest Eye

How often will new alerts appear on the website?

Initially, new alerts will appear on the website on a weekly basis. As the system is refined, alerts may become more frequent. Subscribe for email or text alerts to make sure you never miss an update.

Why does the amount of time between logging and detection vary?

Alerts are generally expected 1-4 weeks after logging or road-building is detected. Forest Eye uses remote sensing to detect changes in forest cover, which is verified with satellite data and GIS mapping. However, if clouds or smoke are obscuring satellites, then it takes longer for the system to gather enough data to detect a big enough change in forest cover to generate an alert. Also, currently Stand.earth Research Group is receiving alerts for recent activity and checking past activity in and around alert areas, so alerts may indicate logging as far back as January 2020 as well as more recent developments.

What is the difference between old growth in priority deferral areas and ‘other’ old growth? 

Currently, Forest Eye will only generate alerts for old growth forests mapped as ‘Map 1: Priority Deferral Area’ or as ‘Map 8: Old Growth Forest’ by the Old Growth Technical Advisory Panel (TAP), and only for areas that overlap with the B.C. government’s map of active and pending forest harvesting permits (current as of February 2023) with planned harvest dates between 2020 and 2030.

Map 1 is described by TAP as “an overall picture of our priority recommendations for harvest deferral. It combines the Prioritised Big-treed Old Growth (Map 3), Remnant Old Ecosystems (Map 4) and Ancient Forests (Map 5) maps. Areas meeting the criteria in each category are identified whether they are already protected or not. All of the area noted on this map, outside protected areas, are at high near-term risk and should have harvest deferred.”

Map 8 is described by TAP as “context for the deferral maps, showing all forest identified in provincial forest inventory as old growth (older than 250 years in ecosystems with rare or infrequent stand-replacing disturbance and older than 140 years in ecosystems with higher stand-replacing disturbance rates).”

Will any old growth logging generate an alert?

Areas of interest were generated by overlapping Map 1 and Map 8 old growth (see FAQ above “What is the difference between old growth in priority deferral areas and ‘other’ old growth?”) with active and pending forest harvest permits issued by the B.C. government for planned harvest dates between 2020 and 2030. Some areas were filtered out, including BCTS permits considered to be deferred by the B.C. government (at least until recently – see “Why isn’t BCTS included?” below) as well as some area-based tenures that were mapped in full in the permit database. 

Why aren’t logging companies always listed on alerts?

Only private companies and tenure holders by person name or numbered company are included on public alerts. Confirmed First Nations logging companies are not included in alert information. Forest Eye does not currently include B.C. Timber Sales in its spatial analysis, but future updates will include BCTS operating areas. 

Why isn’t BCTS included?

Initially the B.C. government announced that BCTS would stop auctioning blocks in areas overlapping old growth areas identified for priority deferral. However, a May 2023 guidance in the policy changes section of the BCTS website indicates that priority-big treed and ancient old growth deferrals can once again be auctioned for logging, and road-building can continue through approved deferrals, among other changes. This is a reversal from the provincial government’s old growth commitments and in contravention to the recommendations of the TAP.  So sadly, in the next update of Forest Eye, forest harvest permits in BCTS operating areas will be added to the system. 

Who logs the most old growth?

Stand.earth Research Group’s previous report Tall Talk analyzed risk that different corporations – including forestry, oil and gas, and mining companies – pose to the most at-risk old growth. As alerts are compiled and reviewed, our team will issue new analysis about the companies disproportionately responsible for old growth forest destruction. Based on current alerts, major logging companies (including Canfor, West Fraser, Interfor and Western Forest Products) and pipelines (including TransCanada’s Coastal Gaslink pipeline) are likely to dominate alerts, especially as logging that has occurred in the past few years is added to the system.

Why are First Nations’ territories not included in regional information? 

Every forest on this continent is on Indigenous lands. However, mapping First Nations’ lands is often different from mapping colonial boundaries, with factors like overlapping territories not generally well represented in publicly available maps. There is no single spatial layer that exists for all of so-called British Columbia that accurately represents every one of the hundreds of Nations’ sovereign territories. Stand.earth anticipates opportunities to provide Forest Eye data directly to interested First Nations and Indigenous peoples, to provide useful information for their stewardship initiatives, land use planning, and land defense work on their territories. We welcome input or questions on this aspect of our work.

Old growth forests are important, but so are other forests like primary or mature second growth. Why aren’t those forests included in the system? 

Forest Eye was developed using software that had never previously been used for so many different areas over such a large region – and that’s just the mapped old growth that intersects with logging permits in B.C. The focus is determined by the high risk and high biodiversity values of these forests, and the commitments of the provincial government to defer them from logging. Our team will be evaluating opportunities to include other spatial layers, such as mature recruitment forests, to monitor for logging. We’re working to raise more funds to refine and expand the project – if you would like to help power this expansion, you can do so here.