Thursday, August 11, 2022

North American boreal trees show a decline in the survival of saplings in response to warming or reduced rainfall.


Four separate papers exploring how forests and tree species respond to global changes — such as rising temperatures — are published in Nature this week. The studies highlight some of the challenges forests in North America and the Amazon may face in response to climate change.

Temperate deciduous tree with a dendrometer band, of the type used in the study, in the ForestGEO plot at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, VA.
Credit: Kristina J. Anderson-Teixeira

A study of nine North American boreal tree species, including maples, firs, spruces and pines, shows a decline for all species in the survival of saplings in response to warming or reduced rainfall. In a five-year open-air field experiment, Peter Reich and colleagues found that fir, spruce and pine species abundant in southern boreal forests had the largest reductions in growth and survival due to changes in climate. 

Temperate deciduous tree with a dendrometer band, of the type used in the study, in the ForestGEO plot at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, VA.Credit: Kristina J. Anderson-Teixeira

However, the species that experienced lower rates of mortality and were more likely to experience growth in response to warming, such as maples, are rarer in southern boreal forests and are unlikely to expand their distribution in this region fast enough to compensate for regeneration failure of the current dominant species.

 An otherwise barren, unnamed valley in the west-central Brooks Range of Alaska, USA, supports a population of boreal white spruce that likely provides the seeds carried many kilometers away by winter wind to germinate in Arctic tundra. Credit: Roman Dial

In another paper, Roman Dial and colleagues describe the northward migration of a North American population of white spruce (Picea glauca) into the Arctic tundra, unoccupied by this species for millennia, at a rate of more than 4 km per decade. The authors found that increasing temperatures together with winter winds, deeper snowpack and increased soil nutrient availability have supported this treeline advance. They argue that increasing Arctic tree cover could lead to a decrease in the habitat available for migratory species and a redistribution of carbon stores.

Two white spruce trees, each probably under 30 years old, overlook a remote tundra valley in northwest Alaska, USA. Recent climate warming, winter winds, and an increasing deep snowpack are facilitating the colonization of Arctic tundra by this boreal species. The trekking pole is one meter long. Credit: Roman Dial

Kristina Anderson-Teixeira and colleagues paired dendrometer band measurements with 207 tree-ring chronologies from 108 forests across temperate deciduous forests of eastern North America. They found that warmer spring temperatures advance the timing of stem growth but have little effect on total annual stem growth. The authors suggest that barring rapid acclimation of these forests to warming conditions, they are unlikely to sequester increasing amounts of carbon as temperatures rise.

In this picture at the Ely site (one of two of the experiment) we see one of the ambient plot in the foreground and some heated plots in the background.  All plants are in the process of fall senescence with slowly developing differentiation in plant senescence between ambient (and the research plots surrounding vegetation) and warmed plots due to the effect warming has on plant phenology.

Finally, Hellen Fernanda Viana Cunha and colleagues show that limitations in the availability of phosphorous directly impact the productivity of the Amazon forest by restricting its responses to CO2 fertilization. This may potentially affect forest resilience to climate change.

Saturday, July 30, 2022

More hogs, more problems for Manitobans

Letter to the Brandon Sun

I am a first-generation Canadian, born and raised on a Manitoba farm in the 1930s.

I did not take up farming as my livelihood. However, I did learn to recognize that farm life can be extremely rewarding in so many different ways. I also learned to appreciate and realize that water and nature (environment) were to be treated with the utmost respect and courtesy and with a sense of dignity.

Now retired, I, along with so many, have become very concerned and worried how those once-valued principles have deteriorated and crumbled.

Corporations and their investors have taken over, interested only in benefiting from the current unsustainable economic activity. Huge hog producing factories threaten our health, our water and our environment.

Part of the problem is that our economy, our governments and our society does not account for the social and environmental consequences that are being experienced and inflicted upon the communities and our precious water sources.

The rivers of yesterday (in Manitoba) provided a means of transportation, a source of food and clean water. Today, the rivers are regarded, for the most part, as handy and open-air sewers — someplace to dump the leftovers.

All but our most northern and isolated water sources are being affected. Lake Winnipeg, the 10th-largest fresh water lake in the world, has become a huge sewage lagoon and is dying.

Now, the rural people of Manitoba have a common purpose that brings them together to face a shared enemy and the malignant forces of the expansionism of corporations and industries. For the people now have come to realize that the future of our generations is at stake, and the risks cannot be tolerated any longer.

I agree with a competitive and profitable agriculture industry, but never at the expense of our health, our waters and the environment.

Feeding the world with pork and exploiting and destroying our finite resources in the process is just not acceptable. In fact, it is very irresponsible, ignorant and immoral.

It seems to me that Mother Nature is literally screaming about the impact that we are putting on her, yet we think wistfully of what has been lost and dismiss it as “the price of progress.”

It’s about time we started to put moral ethics back into our present-day society. Also, it’s about time we started redefining “progress.”


Virden MB

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Hog Watch Manitoba Supports Goals of Convicted Animal Rights Advocates

Big Industry Hiding the Truth


Let the Public See How Pigs Are Housed


(Winnipeg July 14,2022) – Hog Watch Manitoba supports the goals of Amy Sorrano and Nick Schafer, convicted animal rights activists. They have asked that cameras be installed in intensive confinement hog barns in order to monitor how pigs are being treated in these huge facilities.


Currently, there is no way for the public or concerned citizens to ensure that pigs are being treated humanely or to even understand how the pigs are being raised.


Entry into the barns is tightly controlled for biosecurity and public relation reasons.


“The hog industry has good reason to keep their barn doors tightly closed” says Vicki Burns, Hog Watch Manitoba Steering committee member, “They know that many of the public would be disgusted by how these animals are forced to live, crammed in with hundreds of animals, above pits of their urine and feces, breathing in toxic gases rising from the manure pits.”


Hog Watch Manitoba advocates for the industry to shift to more humane conditions for the animals which includes fewer animals housed together and straw-based barns. The manner in which the animals are housed now amounts to institutionalized cruelty because of the lifelong chronic suffering the animals experience, never getting outside, no straw or pasture to root in, tails docked because of being tightly packed in with other pigs, adult female pigs confined in gestation stalls their entire adult lives.


Hog Watch Manitoba does not support criminal activities but efforts to show the public how pigs are kept is essential to shifting consumers and the industry away from factory raised pork.


“ If the public knew the facts, as consumers they may make different purchasing choices and that’s bad news for the hog industry. Cruelty to support profits is not acceptable. Positive  changes can be made in the housing of pigs and still have a viable industry”.




For more information contact:


Vicki Burns , Hog Watch Manitoba Steering Committee



Bill Massey  , Hog Watch Manitoba Steering Committee



Alternatives to factory model of hog production:


·       Animals housed in barns with straw bedding and having access to outside pastures, no liquid manure slurry system

·       Fewer animals per barn

·       No antibiotics in animal feed. Only antibiotics administered if the animal is sick and has been prescribed by a veterinarian

·       Examples of alternative systems  - Xaletto Straw housing System Germany - Xaletto: the economic management system for closed houses with straw bedding - Big Dutchman

Joel Salatin, Polyface Farms Joel Salatin's SECRETS to raising PIGS for LAND REGENERATION & PROFIT - Bing video

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

A Quebec hog operation found keeping pigs in faeces and filth

National Observer

In the early hours of Dec. 7, 2019, members of the social justice group Rose’s Law entered a barn through an unlocked door at the Porgreg pig breeding facility in Saint-Hyacinthe, Que. Inside, they videotaped vile conditions. Seven hours later, they were arrested. Story here.

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Thousands of Acres Awash in Hog Manure

 Hogs at the tail end of misguided provincial planning allowing intensive hog operations on flood plains. 

 “Where is the wisdom allowing these type of operations to be built on flood plains” says Janine Gibson long time member of HOG WATCH who resides among the heaviest concentration of these operations in Southeastern Manitoba. 

As a known flood plain, the Red River Valley experienced severe floods in 1997, 2009, 2011 and now again, this year.

“What on earth was the province thinking when the moratorium was lifted to allow these massive hog operations to further expand. Now we face increasing amounts of phosphorus and nitrogen into the watershed,” she adds.

In 2017 the provincial Conservative government removed key sections in the Environment Act that restricted new hog barn development on known floodplains.

Recent aerial photos from HOG WATCH  clearly show hog operations and fields within a vast sea of water covering thousands of acres routinely used for hog manure spread fields. HOG WATCH members touring some of the flooded areas were assaulted by the stench of hog manure as it washed over the flooded land. 

Bill Massey, who raises sustainable pigs for private use and has been contesting a large hog operation in Rock Lake Colony near Grosse Isle Manitoba for over 18 years, says the math is simple;

“Much of the manure spread last Fall will be carried away this spring as soils become saturated. Phosphorus and nitrogen have not had time to be taken up by any crops and tons will be carried into our rivers and lakes as well as other bacteria, feeding toxic blue-green algae blooms this summer.”

Typically hog manure is either injected into the soil or spread onto fields as nutrients for crops. Excessive manure can contain harmful bacteria like E. coli or and viruses causing groundwater contamination and fish kills.

Janie Gibson sums up this way, “The time has passed where pursuing profit at any cost to Manitoba’s environment makes sense. It doesn’t! Manitoba is the largest hog producing province per population in Canada and the government takes pride in its plans for more intensive hog industry growth. This has to end!” 

Hog Watch Manitoba is a non-profit coalition of environmentalists, farmers, animal welfare and social justice advocates, trade unions and scientists that promotes a hog industry in Manitoba that is ethically, environmentally and economically sustainable.

For more information and to arrange an interview:


Vicki Burns      204-489-3852   Save Lake Winnipeg Project and Hog Watch MB
Bill Massey  204-467-9122   Concerned Citizens of Grosse Isle and Hog Watch MB
Janine Gibson 204-434-6018  Organic Food Council and Hog Watch MB 

Friday, May 6, 2022

Hog Watch Manitoba Fights Noxious Gases from Industrial Hog Barns With Purchase of Hydrogen Sulfide Gas Monitor

(Winnipeg April 27, 2022) – Hog Watch Manitoba is asking for help for rural residents whose lives are negatively impacted by noxious odours from neighbouring hog barns. Those bad smells are not just a nuisance but can contain toxic gases that have human health impacts.

“Hog Watch Manitoba recently purchased a hydrogen sulfide gas monitoring device ACRULOG H2S to measure gases causing foul smells for rural residents” says Vicki Burns, Hog Watch Manitoba spokesperson. “We don’t have any government support like the inspectors who take measurements in the city. The Manitoba government seems to expect rural residents to put up with it as a routine cost of living in the country”.

Recent readings from one location near a hog barn have documented high levels of hydrogen sulfide. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) exposure to hydrogen sulfide may cause irritation to the eyes and respiratory system. It can also cause apnea, coma, convulsions; dizziness, headache, weakness, irritability, insomnia; stomach upset.

 Over the years Hog Watch Manitoba has heard many stench related complaints from rural residents. “We felt that we needed to collect actual data to prove that this is a legitimate health concern and not simply a nuisance. We are asking the province of Manitoba to require odour mitigation measures around all factory hog barns in Manitoba” explains Janine Gibson, Secretary of Hog Watch Manitoba. “This is an interim measure until we can shift the industry to smaller, straw-based barns that are environmentally sustainable, treat the animals and the human workers in a more ethical manner and are economically stable”.


Hog Watch Manitoba is a coalition of farmers, environmentalists, animal welfare advocates, scientists and rural residents who are advocating for a move away from industrial factory style barns to smaller straw-based farms that are environmentally, ethically, and economically sustainable. Hog Watch Manitoba - What's the Big Stink?

Friday, April 15, 2022

Spraying herbicides from helicopters? Concerns mount over plans for southern B.C. forests

The Narwhal

The huckleberry. A Wikimedia photo.

To the forestry industry these plants are pests, but for berry pickers they are important foods and medicine. Story here.


Contaminants found in traditional berries of First Nations people in Manitoba, but still declared to be safe to eat. (Video).

Disinformation ruins the conversation on fertilizer policy, MPs say

The National Observer Pervasive disinformation around Canada’s voluntary fertilizer reduction plan makes it hard to have a rational discussi...