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New Old-Growth Activist Teams to be Launched in BC Swing Ridings to take the Ancient Forest Campaign to a Whole New Level

Oak Bay – Gordon Head Ancient Forest Committee and the Ancient Forest Alliance to organize major public education and mobilization campaign, focused on BC Liberal MLA Ida Chong, in key swing riding

Media Release, April 9, 2010

New Old-Growth Activist Teams to be Launched in BC Swing Ridings to take the Ancient Forest Campaign to a Whole New Level
Click for larger image

Benna Keoghoe stands next to a giant Douglas fir measuring 6ft in diameter growing in Mount Doug Park located within the Oak Bay/Gordon Head swing riding.
Photo by TJ Watt

Without the handcuffs of charitable status which forbids organizations from condemning or endorsing politicians and political parties, BC’s new Ancient Forest Alliance (AFA - visit www.ancientforestalliance.org) is now positioned to organize hard-hitting campaigns in key provincial swing ridings. In particular, the AFA will be working to systematically train and guide activists to establish “Ancient Forest Committees” (AFC’s), or forest activist teams, in 8 to 10 provincial swing ridings over the next year. The AFC’s will be technically autonomous from the AFA, but will be trained and guided by the AFA particularly in their formative stages.

“As long as the BC Liberal government continues along its current path of justifying the liquidation of our last old-growth forests in southern BC and the export of raw logs to foreign mills, we’ll move to organize major public awareness campaigns in 8 to 10 swing ridings where we can exert a disproportionate amount of influence on the government and its policies – and cause them to lose the next election if need be,” states Ken Wu, Ancient Forest Alliance co-founder. “Conversely, if they move to undertake a provincial old-growth plan that will protect our endangered old-growth forests and forestry jobs, we will most certainly give credit where credit is due. This is a whole new level of environmental campaigning where the ancient forest movement has not gone before – we will be a lot more effective now.”

The first of the Ancient Forest Committees to be launched on Vancouver Island will be the Oak Bay – Gordon Head Ancient Forest Committee, coordinated by local environmental activist Benna Keoghoe.

“Oak Bay-Gordon Head is one of the most environmentally conscious ridings in BC, and in fact in Canada. BC Liberal MLA Ida Chong won the last election by a 2% margin, by just over 500 votes. We know for a fact that there are thousands of environmentally-minded voters in the riding who will change their allegiances if they know that so far Chong has touted the standard BC Liberal stance that ancient forests are not endangered on Vancouver Island and are adequately protected, which is false,” states Benna Keoghoe, Oak Bay – Gordon Head AFC cofounder. “We’ll be organizing a lot of door canvassing, leaflet drops, petition drives, slideshows, nature walks, and protests in the riding.”

Currently the BC Liberals contend that old-growth forests are not endangered on Vancouver Island and that raw log exports should continue, while the NDP is calling for an Old-Growth Strategy that will inventory and increase protection for old-growth forests and they advocate restrictions on raw log exports. The BC Green Party is calling for the protection of the remaining old-growth forests on Vancouver Island and an end to raw log exports.

Old-growth forests are important for sustaining species at risk, tourism, the climate, clean water, and First Nations traditional cultures.

Based upon an analysis of satellite photographs, about 88% of the original, productive old-growth forests on southern Vancouver Island (south of Barkley Sound and Port Alberni) have already been logged, including 95% of the productive old-growth on low, flat terrain. Across the Island as a whole, about 75% of the original productive old-growth forests have been logged, including 90% of the valley bottoms where the largest trees grow.

With so little of our ancient forests remaining, the Ancient Forest Alliance is calling on the BC Liberal government to:

- Undertake a Provincial Old-Growth Strategy that will inventory the remaining old-growth forests and protect them where they are scarce (ie. Vancouver Island, Lower Mainland, southern Interior, etc.).

- Ensure the sustainable logging of second-growth forests, which now constitute the vast majority of BC’s landscapes.

- End the export of raw logs in order to ensure guaranteed log supplies for local milling and value-added industries.

- Assist in the retooling and development of mills and value-added facilities to handle second-growth logs.

- Undertake new land-use planning initiatives based on First Nations land-use plans, ecosystem-based scientific assessments, and climate mitigation strategies involving forest protection.


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