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B.C. municipalities support Vancouver Island push to save old-growth forests

B.C. municipalities have thrown their political might behind a request to save Vancouver Island’s old-growth forests from logging

Vancouver Sun - Kelly Sinoski, September 28, 2016

B.C. municipalities support Vancouver Island push to save old-growth forests
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Photo by: TJ Watt

An aerial view of old-growth clearcutting in the Klanawa Valley on southwestern Vancouver Island. Conservationists are celebrating as members of the Union of B.C. Municipalities has passed a resolution at their AGM calling on the B.C. government to amend the 1994 Vancouver Island Land Use Plan to protect the Island's remaining old-growth forests.

Delegates at the annual Union of B.C. Municipalities convention agreed to send a letter to the provincial government asking for a land-use plan to protect old-growth forest on Crown land, by restricting logging to second-growth trees.

The move follows a decision by the B.C. government last year to approve a permit for logging on one of eight planned “cutblock” areas in the central Walbran Valley on Vancouver Island. The area was not protected when more than 160 square kilometres of forests were placed off-limits to logging in the Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park created in 1993 following protests and blockades.

“The current model of liquidating old growth on the Island is not serving anybody well,” said Victoria Coun. Ben Isitt, noting the forests are a vital asset that are just as important as Okanagan Lake or the Fraser River.

Metchosin Coun. Andy MacKinnon, who made the resolution, agreed, saying trees over 250 years old are a finite resource that fuel the tourism economy and recreation and should be retained for future generations. He argued only 13 per cent of old-growth forests are protected, which placed Vancouver Island at “high ecological risk.”

“Our old-growth forests are not a renewable resource,” he said.

However, some Vancouver Islanders such as Cowichan Valley Coun. Al Sebring were against the move, maintaining municipalities should focus on local issues such as roads, water and sewer and not old-growth forests, the Site C dam or anti-poverty legislation.

Charlie Cornfield, a councillor in Campbell River, and Port Hardy Coun. Fred Robertson added the issue should be debated regionally because it only affected the Island communities. “The motion could have a significant impact on the social fabric of small forest-dependent communities like Port Hardy,” Robertson said. “Nobody has talked to us or the First Nations.”

The UBCM committee had recommended the motion be heard locally, but MacKinnon asked that it be raised at the convention. In 1992, delegates also supported a resolution for old-growth forest that asked the province to “take the necessary steps to ensure that the proposed protected areas are not compromised before the Protected Areas Strategy has been completed.”

The province has said there are more than 250,000 square kilometres of old-growth forests in B.C., of which 45,000 sq. km. are fully protected, according to the UBCM. It also stated that of 19,000 sq. km. of Crown forest on Vancouver Island, 8,401.25 sq. km. are considered old growth, but only 3,130 sq. km. are available for timber harvesting.

But MacKinnon, a biologist who previously worked with the Ministry of Forests, claims those numbers are inflated, and if it only included productive land they would be much smaller.

Read more: http://vancouversun.com/news/local-news/b-c-municipalities-support-vancouver-island-push-to-save-old-growth-forests


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