The groundswell of citizens’ support for new, sustainable forest policies in BC, only two months before a BC election, will be evident today with the introduction of the “Petition to Protect British Columbia’s Endangered Old-Growth Forests and Forestry Jobs” into the Legislative Assembly on its last day this session by NDP MLA Scott Fraser (Alberni – Pacific Rim) this afternoon. The 22,000 signatures were garnered by the Ancient Forest Alliance since 2010 in through its public events, volunteers, door canvassers, and website.
The issues of old-growth logging and sustainable forestry have been spotlighted in the media heavily this week, due to a new controversy over potential logging adjacent to the world-famous Cathedral Grove (see: www.timescolonist.com/news/local/old-growth-near-cathedral-grove-set-for-imminent-logging-activists-1.90194) and over the BC Liberal government backing down on Tuesday from introducing a controversial bill to expand Tree Farm Licences on Crown land.
The 22,000 strong petition calls on the BC government to:
- Undertake a Provincial Old-Growth Strategy that will inventory and protect the remaining old-growth forests in regions where they are scarce (eg’s. Vancouver Island, Southern Mainland Coast, Southern Interior, etc.)
- Ensure the sustainable logging of second-growth forests, which now constitute the majority of forest lands in southern BC.
- End the export of BC raw logs to foreign mills in order to ensure a guaranteed log supply for BC wood processing facilities.
- Assist in the retooling of coastal BC sawmills and the development of value-added facilities to handle second-growth logs.
- Undertake new land-use planning processes to protect endangered forests based on new First Nations land-use plans, ecosystem-based scientific assessments, and climate mitigation strategies through forest protection.
This Saturday, the Ancient Forest Alliance is also planning a major rally, the “Pre-Election Rally for Ancient Forests and BC Forestry Jobs” featuring prominent First Nations, conservationists, union leaders, and business owners. Over 1,300 people have already pre-confirmed their attendance for the rally on the website, with another 500 people on Facebook.
“Virtually the whole industrialized world is logging second or third-growth forests now, but the BC Liberal government still takes the anti-environmental stance that it’s fine to finish off the last unprotected ancient forests and to export raw logs. As such, so far they’ve been the ‘Despoilers of the Best Place on Earth’,” stated Ken Wu, Ancient Forest Alliance executive director. “With a BC election coming up in only two months, let’s hope they reverse their intransigence and PR spin-doctoring that old-growth forests are not endangered. We’re more than willing to give credit where credit is due – and to also dish out consequences where they’re due.”
MLA Scott Fraser applauds the strong public reaction: “The public is demanding leadership to ensure that our remaining old-growth forests are not squandered for short-term gain; that they be allowed to survive for future generations, and that we work to revitalize the forest industry to include milling and value-added processing in the province. Our trees have great value standing, and when we log them we need to maximize the jobs for the benefit of people here in British Columbia. These petitions should serve as a wake-up call to an out of touch premier and her MLAs.”
Since the BC Liberals have come to power, over 30,000 BC forestry jobs have been lost and over 70 mills closed. About 6 million cubic metres of raw, unprocessed logs are being shipped each year to China, Japan, the USA, and Korean mills, while the BC Liberal government has repeatedly over-ruled the recommendations of its Timber Export Advisory Committee (TEAC) to make logs available for BC sawmills instead of exporting them. On February 21, prominent TEAC member David Gray resigned, stating that recent changes to the raw log export regulations was making it virtually impossible to do his job.
Landsat satellite photos reveal that about 75% of Vancouver Island’s original, productive old-growth forests have already been logged, including 90% of the valley bottoms where the largest trees grow and 99% of old-growth Douglas-firs. Only about 10% of the original, productive old-growth forests on Vancouver Island are protected in parks and Old-Growth Management Areas. Much of BC’s remaining old-growth forests are now marginal or low-productivity “bonsai” forests, with stunted trees growing in bogs, rocky mountainsides or at high elevations. Much of the remaining productive old-growth forests with the classic giant trees, or “ancient” forests, are still targeted for logging. See maps at: https://www.ancientforestalliance.org/old-growth-maps.php
Old-growth forests support many species at risk that can’t flourish in younger forests; store two-to-three times more carbon per hectare than the second-growth tree plantations that they are being replaced with; are fundamental pillars of BCs multi-billion dollar coastal tourism industry; are important parts of many First Nations cultures; and provide clean water for spawning salmon and trout.
See spectacular old-growth forest photos and videos at: