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Photo of Burnt Vancouver Island Clearcut Chosen for Exhibition in International Photography Competition in London

Ancient Forest Alliance, May 27, 2014

Photo of Burnt Vancouver Island Clearcut Chosen for Exhibition in International Photography Competition in London
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A photo of a burnt Vancouver Island clearcut - where an old-growth temperate rainforest once stood - has been chosen for exhibition in the international photography competition, the Atkins CIWEM Environmental Photographer of the Year, in London England.
Photo: TJ Watt

Photo of Burnt Vancouver Island Clearcut Chosen for Exhibition in International Photography Competition in London

Tragic photo of a logged and burnt old-growth forest on Vancouver Island, taken in January by Ancient Forest Alliance photographer TJ Watt, highlights the environmental destruction taking place in British Columbia’s “Tree Farm Licences” (TFL’s). The BC government’s plan to expand TFL’s to give exclusive logging rights to major logging companies on BC’s public lands is in its final week of public input.

A tragic photo of a person standing among giant, burnt stumps in an old-growth clearcut on Vancouver Island taken by Victoria-based photographer and conservationist TJ Watt has been chosen by the Atkins CIWEM Environmental Photographer of the Year competition to be featured in an exhibition this summer at the Royal Geographical Society in London and around national forest venues across England. Exhibited photos will be further judged to potentially win first prize in the competition. See the photo here: http://www.ancientforestalliance.org/pic.php?pID=797

The photo is currently being circulated in social media to show the unsustainable forestry practices in BC’s Tree Farm Licences where large logging companies have exclusive logging rights over vast areas of public forest lands - a designation that the BC government is looking to expand, pending the finalization of public input at the end of this week on May 30. See the Ancient Forest Alliance’s campaign website at www.BCForestMovement.com

The photo was taken in January of this year in a former old-growth red cedar and hemlock forest on public (Crown) land in the Klanawa Valley in “Tree Farm Licence 44”, an “area-based licence” held by Western Forest Products, a few kilometers from the West Coast Trail on southern Vancouver Island (south of the town of Bamfield). The BC government states: “It is in the best interests of the licence holder to ensure the long-term sustainability of the area to secure future harvests,” in their discussion paper promoting an expansion of Tree Farm Licences in BC (see BC Government’s “Discussion Paper: Area-Based Forest Tenures”, page 8 - http://engage.gov.bc.ca/foresttenures/files/2014/03/Forest_Tenure_Discuss_Paper.pdf)

“This photo highlights the brutal mismanagement of BC’s old-growth forests – in fact the annihilation of these forests – in Tree Farm Licences on public lands. It’s such a tragic place, when you see the contrast between what would’ve been lush green rainforest, and what it is today – a charred and barren landscape of blackened stumps, not unlike a scene from the end of the world” stated TJ Watt. “I hope this photo provides a striking reminder of the ongoing destruction of British Columbia’s last endangered old-growth forests within Tree Farm Licences – a designation shown throughout the coast to be rife with environmentally disastrous forestry practices.”

The clearcut was likely burnt due to an accident. Clearcuts are more prone to fires as the dead wood and vegetation dry-out when exposed to the direct summer sunshine without overhead canopy, while sparks caused by logging equipment, as well as human carelessness and lightning, can readily ignite dried-out clearcuts. Companies also set intentional burns to reduce waste wood.

The photo will on display at the competition in London from June 23 – July 4, 2014, followed by a tour to forest venues nationally, supported by Forestry Commission England. The Atkins CIWEM Environmental Photographer of the Year competition is an international showcase for the very best in environmental photography and film. See: http://www.ciwem.org/competition-and-awards/environmental-photographer.aspx The exhibition will feature the top picks including Watt’s burnt clearcut photo, among a large number of entries from around the world, with the winning entry receiving a £5000 prize for the Atkins CIWEM Environmental Photographer of the Year award. Over 10,000 images were submitted for judging.

In April, the BC Liberal government revived their plans to allow major logging companies to receive exclusive logging rights over vast areas of public forest lands through the expansion of Tree Farm Licences. Despite being killed by widespread public opposition in 2013, they’ve resurrected this “forest giveaway scheme” like a zombie, in a bid to increase property rights for timber corporations on our public lands. These lands are vital for wildlife, recreation, scenery, clean water, wild salmon, First Nations, and smaller forestry operators.

This proposal would increase the compensation rights to be paid for by BC taxpayers to logging companies with Tree Farm Licences in lieu of new parks, protected areas and First Nations treaty settlements. Thus, it would make it harder to protect forests and settle First Nations land claims, as well as to diversify forestry in BC to communities and smaller operators in a way that truly supports forestry-dependent communities. Ultimately, it will further entrench the status quo of massive overcutting in BC by large corporations that is resulting in the collapse of human communities and ecosystems – a process well-advanced on BC’s southern coast, and now underway in BC’s interior.

THOUSANDS of people have already spoken up against the plan and many more will likely speak up during this final week of public input. Those who want to write-in must do so by 12 noon on May 30, to Jim Snetsinger, public engagement coordinator on TFL expansion, at: forest.tenures@gov.bc.ca (Cc. a copy to Forests Minister Steve Thomson at FLNR.minister@gov.bc.ca). See the official government website on participating on their Blog site at: http://engage.gov.bc.ca/foresttenures/

The public consultation process itself is considered a flawed or “rigged” process, as the terms of reference ask “how” not “whether” or not Tree Farm Licences should be expanded. Government info sheets only list “potential benefits” but no “potential problems” of expanding Tree Farm Licences.

“The public relations claim that major timber companies will operate in an environmentally sustainable manner if they are given greater property rights is contradicted by the actual evidence – let’s remember that much of the southern coast has had Tree Farm Licences for decades. Corporations are not communities, they are not tied to the land, looking at the long term - they are highly mobile, buying and selling their Tree Farm Licences regularly after logging what they want, and moving on. Nor is it in their financial interest to manage the forests for biodiversity, recreation, water quality or wild salmon, as they don’t make money from such things – they make money from the timber alone,” stated Ken Wu, Ancient Forest Alliance executive director. “Some of the province’s most notorious examples of massive overcutting, landslides, destruction of salmon streams, annihilation of old-growth forests, locked gates, and ruined scenery and recreational opportunities, are in the province’s Tree Farm Licences. This current plan is the BC Liberal government’s attempt to facilitate the last great timber grab by the major companies to log until the end of the resource – at the expense of communities and ecosystems.”

See the Ancient Forest Alliance’s media release and links to various articles and the BC government’s website at: http://www.ancientforestalliance.org/news-item.php?ID=772


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