Expanding Human Disturbance Footprint in Quebec's Broadback River Watershed

(2016-10-20) Mapping analyses from satellite images shows that the Broadback River watershed, and the boreal forest to the south and east of it, experienced a significant expansion of human development between 1980 and 2015. The analyses, conducted by Global Forest Watch Canada (GFWC), examined the length of linear and area-based disturbances in the Broadback River watershed.

The mapping and analyses identified a total of 4,298 km of linear features (e.g. roads and transmission lines) and 1,150 km2 of area-based disturbances (e.g. logging cutblocks and mines) in the watershed by 2015. When these disturbances are buffered to account for broader ecological impacts, the disturbances amounted to 4,294 km2 by 2015, or 20% of the watershed, compared to 456 km2, or 2% in 1980. The portion of the watershed in the commercial forest zone had a disturbance footprint of 27%. The Broadback River watershed includes 50 Cree traplines, various mining claims, and 54% of it is allotted to forest tenures.

“Our analyses shows that logging, and associated road building, has been the most significant development activity in the watershed,” said Wynet Smith, Executive Director of GFWC. “Logging cutblocks accounted for 99% of all area-based disturbances while roads accounted for 92% of all linear features.”

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