Cortes Island citizens prepare for logging protests
The Vancouver Observer - Carrie Saxifrage, November 17, 2012
Lanky, clean cut Cec Robinson is pretty sure the RCMP has been following him on Cortes Island. What danger does this quiet oyster farmer and family man pose? He intends to defend his island from industrial logging by Island Timberlands because he thinks it is the right thing to do for his community and for the planet.
Here are his words:
I am 62 years old, and for the last 23 years, a full time resident of Cortes Island, where my wife and I raised our daughter and son. This truly rare place is still a tapestry of diverse, healthy ecosystems, and I will peacefully block any industrial style logging on Cortes.
As a self-employed shellfish grower, I appreciate free enterprise. I say yes to modest sustainable timber harvest that protects sensitive areas and keeps most of the economic benefit within our community.
I also know that we must all be subject to reasonable constraints in order to protect society from carelessness and greed. In the case of corporately owned forest lands in BC, there are no such constraints. Our government ignores its responsibility, and instead allows these multi-national corporations, such as ‘Brookfield Asset Management’, to self-regulate.
Brookfieldwants to take our environment and convert it into cash for their distant shareholders. They want only to take! To take far too much and far too fast, and when will they give back? Back to the living earth that provided their excessive wealth, and back to my home, Cortes Island. With the last truckload of raw logs exported to China, what would Cortes Islanders be left with? A divided community with a degraded environment, reduced natural resources, tourism dollars lost. All this when climate change is bringing our children a greater need than ever for their environment to be as healthy, productive and abundant as possible.
It may be legal, but it is highly unjust for a corporation to do this to our community and environment. We’ve written the letters and we’ve had the meetings. The corporation responded poorly, and the government, even less so. That leaves only you and me, until we have new legislation which determines that logging be more sustainable.
I love this earth, and I love our children, and I will fight to defend what I love. I will stand in the way, peacefully, 100 per cent, arrest or not. I will not be alone, and we will be there until we have achieved something wonderful.
Who is this sincere, upstanding citizen pitting himself against? Island Timberlands, which plans to industrial log Cortes Island is owned by Brookfield Asset Management with $110 billion in managed assets and bcIMC with $92 billion in managed assets. Most recently, China Investment Corporation, a sovereign wealth fund which manages China’s foreign exchange reserves and has $410 billion in assets, has negotiated for a 12.5 per cent stake in Island timberlands.
These institutional owners first extract profits from forest liquidation and then from conversion of forests to residential development, known in corporate vernacular as a “higher and better use.” At its current rate of logging, Island Timberlands will destroy all its Douglas fir forest holdings within 25 years.
Cec is not the only islander to think that Cortes is caught up in a larger trend of destruction that serves no one who depends on the Earth for healthy existence. More immediately, dozens of island business owners have made it clear that Island Timberland’s industrial logging will occur at the expense of their livelihoods.
Cortes Islanders have historically advocated truly sustainable forest management for high end wood working markets. In contrast, Island Timberlands uses the discredited “Sustainable Forestry Initiative” certification, an industry scheme that bears no relation to the more stringent and credible “Forest Stewardship Certification.”
Nearly 7,000 people have signed a petition asking Island Timberlands to stand down from industrial logging on Cortes Island. That petition resulted in a delay of Island Timberlands’ logging plans for 10 months of negotiations and a temporary commitment to not cut some of the old growth. But IT ultimately refused to meet the substance of the petition which sought permanent protection for old growth, water sheds, listed species and sustainable selective logging.
Please send an email for the forests of Cortes:
IT CEO Dashan Sihota: firstname.lastname@example.org
IT Operations Planner Wayne French: email@example.com
IT Director of Forest Operations Bill Waugh: BillWaugh@islandtimberlands.com
IT Public Relations Morgan Kennah: MKennah@islandtimberlands.com
CEO/CIO, bcIMC: firstname.lastname@example.org
Brookfield Asset Management contact:
BAM CEO Bruce Flatt: email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org
Read more: http://www.vancouverobserver.com/blogs/earthmatters/cortes-island-citizens-prepare-logging-protests
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