DOWNLOAD A COPY OF: “Living Water Smart in British Columbia: Landscapes and watersheds in BC are at a heightened risk” – released by the Partnership for Water Sustainability in May 2024

Note to Reader:

Published by the Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia, Waterbucket eNews celebrates the leadership of individuals and organizations who are guided by the Living Water Smart vision. The edition published on May 21, 2024 featured Dr. Younes Alila of the UBC Faculty of Forestry. Through his research thrust over three decades, he landed on a discovery that challenges mainstream practices and provides the foundation for a paradigm-shift in forest hydrology science and practice.



Watersheds in BC are at a heightened risk

“Dr. Younes Alila in the UBC Faculty of Forestry has been making headline news. He is courageous in challenging conventional wisdom about what he believes to be the “misguided and scientifically indefensible” practice of forest hydrology in BC. His findings are relevant to urban drainage practice,” wrote Kim Stephens, Waterbucket eNews Editor and Partnership Executive Director.


“The actual consequences of clearcut logging, he warns, are magnified in this era of weather extremes. This mirrors what communities are seeing and experiencing, including in the urban environment, due to radical alteration of landscapes.”

“Trained as a civil engineer, Younes Alila found himself having to do science. In the process, he landed on a discovery of great import.”

“For more than a century, Dr. Alila explains, scientists have clung to a deterministic analysis. To use a strategic board game analogy, this is like looking at each move in isolation and thinking, “If I move here, then I should win.” It fails to account for the roll of the dice, the cards you draw, and what your opponents might do—all of which can change the game.”


Photo Credit: Conservation North (via Younes Alila)

Landscapes and watersheds in BC are at a heightened risk due to clearcut logging

In speaking out, Dr. Younes Alila is having an impact. So much so, his findings have been debated in the BC Legislature. Consider this sample of headlines:
Research by Younes Alila and his grad students over the past three decades demonstrates how clearcut logging leads to more frequent flooding, including extreme floods. Their work also shows that larger, intact watersheds reduce flood risk more effectively.



More frequent flooding, more extreme floods

“The story of my forest hydrology research over the past 30 years is actually a traumatizing story,” says Dr. Younes Alila. “Most of the landscapes in British Columbia and most of our watersheds are sitting at a very heightened risk when it comes to hydrology and geomorphology.”

“And that in itself is of course a trauma. It is also a trauma personally because the science that I have been building and publishing in peer-reviewed papers goes against mainstream thinking in forest hydrology as practiced in British Columbia.”

“The risks are greater than we were led to believe by government, industry, and professionals. But scholars in the philosophy of science will tell you that scientists will never admit to erroneous precedents. An eminent scientist once said, science progresses one funeral at a time.”

To Learn More:

To read the complete story, download a copy  of Living Water Smart in British Columbia: Landscapes and watersheds in BC are at a heightened risk.