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British Columbia Ancient Forests News
Ancient Forest Alliance (AFA) Launches the “100,000 Strong for Ancient Forests and BC Forestry Jobs” Campaign
Largest grassroots mobilization effort undertaken by BC’s ancient forest movement since the Clayoquot Sound campaign of the early 1990’s.
Ancient Forest Alliance Media Release, October 4, 2010
The Ancient Forest Alliance (AFA) launched a campaign today to get 100,000 British Columbians to sign a petition (see www.ancientforestpetition.com) calling on the BC government to protect the province’s endangered old-growth forests and forestry jobs. The “100,000 Strong for Ancient Forests and BC Forestry Jobs” public education and mobilization campaign will be the largest grassroots mobilization effort undertaken by BC’s ancient forest movement since the Clayoquot Sound campaign of the early 1990’s. It will entail a large number of presentations, community meetings, protests (including three pickets this week at Premier Gordon Campbell’s office and BC Liberal MLA’s Harry Bloy and Richard Lee’s Burnaby offices), public hikes and campouts, online advocacy, and an effort to enlist 3000 to 5000 volunteers to circulate petitions across BC. People can sign the petition online, on Facebook, and via hardcopies. At the culmination of the campaign, the petition will be delivered to the BC government at a thousands-strong rally at the BC Legislative Buildings.
“Time is running out for our increasingly scarce ancient forests as the markets for old-growth cedar return and as the BC government works to ramp-up sales of old-growth lumber and raw logs in China,” states Ken Wu of the Ancient Forest Alliance. “With the use of the internet and social media, we have an added advantage in working to snowball public support behind our new outreach and mobilization efforts, relative to the ancient forest campaigns of the early 1990’s.”
The petition, which was posted online a few months ago (www.ancientforestpetition.com), has so far picked up about 3500 signatures with very little effort.
See “before” and “after” maps of Vancouver Island’s remaining old-growth forests at: http://www.ancientforestalliance.org/old-growth-maps.php
See spectacular photogalleries of Canada’s largest trees and stumps at:
“If you ask the average British Columbian in the year 2010 if they’d like to see our endangered old-growth forests protected, the sustainable logging of second-growth forests instead, and a ban on raw log exports, the vast majority will say ‘yes’! Very few people today, except those with ancient, old mindsets, are still arguing that we should finish off the last of the unprotected old-growth forests on Vancouver Island and continue exporting raw logs to foreign mills,” stated TJ Watt, Ancient Forest Alliance campaigner. “Unfortunately the BC Liberal government holds this outdated and ultimately distastrous view. But we’re confident we have the vast majority of the public on our side, and we’re going to start rounding them up through this campaign.”
Last week on Shaw TV’s “Voice of BC” in response to a question about protecting Vancouver Island’s old-growth rainforests, Forest Minister Pat Bell stated that “we have more old-growth today than we had historically.”
“What a ridiculous, delusional and ultimately destructive mindset this government has towards our globally significant ancient forests! Somehow a hundred years of industrial logging on Vancouver Island has resulted in more old-growth forests standing today, according to our Minister of Forests,” stated Ken Wu, campaign director of the Ancient Forest Alliance. “The BC Liberal government is still in a state of convenient denial about the status of our old-growth forests. Once we have 100,000 people directly signed up with our campaign, we’ll have enough leverage to make the BC Liberals an endangered species by the next provincial election - unless they change their tune.”
Bell and the Ministry of Forests and Range also consistently cite highly misleading statistics, stating that “almost 900,000 hectares of the 1.9 million hectares of Crown lands on Vancouver Island are old-growth.”
“What Bell fails to mention is that half of the 900,000 hectares of the old-growth forests he refers to consist of stunted trees growing in bogs, on granite rock faces, and in the subalpine ‘snow forests’, most of which can’t be profitably logged. Their arguments are fundamentally dishonest, as the whole controversy is not over stunted bonsai trees, but rather over the moderate to high productivity stands where the forest giants grow, where the endangered species live, and where the actual logging takes place,” stated Wu. “Bell also conveniently forgets to mention the 600,000 hectares of private forest lands on Vancouver Island where virtually all of the old-growth has been eliminated – these are private lands that were publicly regulated until the BC Liberal government removed them from their Tree Farm Licenses a few years back.”
The petition calls on the BC government to:
75% of the productive ancient forests have been logged on Vancouver Island, while less than 10% of our productive forests are in protected in parks and Old-Growth Management Areas, and the situation is similar throughout southern BC. Tens of thousands of hectares of ancient forests fall each year in BC.
Old-growth forests are important for species at risk, tourism, the climate, clean water for salmon and people, and many First Nations traditional cultures.
Forestry jobs are declining as the biggest and best old-growth trees in the valley bottoms and lower slopes are logged-off, resulting in diminishing economic returns as the trees get smaller, less valuable, and more expensive to reach on higher, steep terrain. Old-growth mills are closing as the resource runs out, while vast quantities of coastal second-growth logs are being exported raw to foreign mills due to a lack of government incentives for investments in second-growth mills in BC. Over the past decade about 70 BC mills have closed down and 20,000 BC forestry jobs have disappeared, in large part due to resource depletion, raw log exports, and deregulation of the industry.
“If the coastal industry does not retool in order to process second-growth logs, what happens down the road when that’s basically all that is available? Where are the forestry jobs going to be?” Watt wonders. “The rest of most the world is logging second, third, and fourth growth stands now and making it work, and we can too. We need to be moving up the value chain, not down it. In the end, it's about the long term sustainability of the ecosystem and of an industry, and right now we're moving in the completely wrong direction."