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Posted March 3, 2013

Ancient Forest Alliance (AFA) Celebrates its Three Year Anniversary

Conservation organization aims to spotlight old-growth forests and raw log exports as central BC election issues, urges BC Liberals and NDP to break from the unsustainable status quo.

Ancient Forest Alliance Media Release, February 28, 2013

Ancient Forest Alliance (AFA) Celebrates its Three Year Anniversary
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Photo attached (media are free to reprint): From left to right - AFA Executive Director Ken Wu; Campaigner and Photographer TJ Watt; Admin Director Joan Varley; Researcher and Writer Hannah Carpendale. Taken at hollow old-growth cedar at Goldstream.
Photo by TJ Watt

February 28, 2013
 
Ancient Forest Alliance (AFA) Celebrates its Three Year Anniversary
 
Conservation organization aims to spotlight old-growth forests and raw log exports as central BC election issues, urges BC Liberals and NDP to break from the unsustainable status quo.
 
The Ancient Forest Alliance (www.AncientForestAlliance.org) , a BC environmental organization founded in early 2010, is celebrating its three year anniversary this week as a registered not-for-profit society. Yesterday, February 27, was the organization’s anniversary.
 
To celebrate, this coming Sunday, March 3, the organization will hold an “Ancient Forest Biodiversity Hike” for the public to see a magnificent old-growth Douglas fir grove in Goldstream Provincial Park, on the campground side of the park (Meet at 1:00 pm at the top parking lot by Sooke Lake Rd. and Humpback Rd. near the pub, hike finishes by 3:00 pm – easy to moderate difficulty) with Ken Wu ,TJ Watt, and Joan Varley from the AFA and naturalists Darren and Claudia Copley of the Victoria Natural History Society. The organization will also have a “Meet and Greet” afterwards with snacks, drinks, and a fun slideshow with staff from 4:30 to 6:00 pm on Sunday at its office at 827 Broughton St. in Victoria.
 
“We’re grateful for the huge support we’ve received from thousands British Columbians to build a major environmental organization from scratch,” stated Ken Wu, AFA co-founder and executive director. “Our size and strength has grown tremendously over three years, and we’ve had some specific successes. However, our main task – of getting the BC Liberal government and the NDP opposition to commit to a plan to protect BC’s endangered old-growth forests and to ensure a sustainable, value-added second-growth forest industry – is now more urgent than ever. During these last 3 months before a BC election we’ll be going all-out to push both the BC Lib’s and NDP for a seismic shift from the unsustainable status quo of massive overcutting, old-growth logging and raw log exports.”
 
So far the BC Liberal government has been defending major old-growth logging and raw log exports, while often citing highly misleading statistics to convey the false message that old-growth forests are not endangered. They’ve also introduced a bill that would empower the Minister of Forests to expand Tree Farm Licences (ie. to give exclusive logging rights to huge areas of Crown forest lands to major timber companies) through policy fiat instead of through a democratic legislative vote, which is bound to become a major election issue.  See:  www.ancientforestalliance.org/news-item.php?ID=564
 
The NDP opposition has so far stayed silent on a previous commitment by leader Adrian Dix in 2011 during his leadership bid that he would, “Develop a long term strategy for old growth forests in the Province, including protection of specific areas that are facing immediate logging plans” if elected. See: conservationvoters.ca/past-endorsements/leadership-race-2011/ndp-candidates/adrian-dix
 
The Ancient Forest Alliance has been noted for its approach towards building broad-based movements involving local tourism and small businesses (including the Port Renfrew Chamber of Commerce who helped to protect the Avatar Grove), forestry workers, First Nations, and other diverse people. The organization is planning a major “Pre-Election Rally for Ancient Forests and BC Forestry Jobs” on Saturday, March 16 at 12 noon at the Legislative Buildings. Already over 500 people have pre-confirmed their attendance for the rally on the website and 200 more via Facebook.  See www.BCForestMovement.com
 
A major strength of the organization has been the photography of its campaigner and co-founder TJ Watt, whose stunning, award-winning photos of old-growth trees and giant stumps on Vancouver Island have circulated around the world through the news and social media. See the Ancient Forest Alliance’s photogallery of Watt’s photos at: www.ancientforestalliance.org/galleries.php
 
“While we’ve taken thousands of people on public hikes to see ancient forests, we also know it’s impossible to bring millions of people out, and that the clearcutting of our endangered old-growth forests also goes unseen by most. So through professional photography we’ve been able to bring the beauty and destruction of our ancient forests into the homes of millions of people to raise public awareness,” stated Watt.
 
The AFA is best known for its successful campaign that culminated last year to protect the “Avatar Grove”, a stand of centuries old giant redcedars near Port Renfrew, some with fantastic shapes. See:  www.ancientforestalliance.org/news-item.php?ID=378  and a spectacular photogallery at: www.ancientforestalliance.org/photos.php?gID=6
 
The organization’s other successes include:
 
- Getting NDP leader Adrian Dix to commit to, “Develop a long term strategy for old growth forests in the Province, including protection of specific areas that are facing immediate logging plans” during his NDP leadership bid (a promise which he has not mentioned since, however). See: http://conservationvoters.ca/past-endorsements/leadership-race-2011/ndp-candidates/adrian-dix
 
- Ensuring a reprieve from logging for the “Castle Grove” last November, Canada’s finest ancient cedar grove in the Upper Walbran Valley. See:  www.timescolonist.com/news/local/province-has-no-plans-to-cut-old-growth-stand-in-walbran-near-port-alberni-1.17753
 
- Convincing the BC government to develop a legal designation, still in the works, to protect the province’s biggest trees and potentially monumental groves. See above link.
 
- In general, raising the level of public awareness on the need to protect the province’s endangered ancient forests through countless public hikes, slideshows, rallies, petition drives (see www.AncientForestPetition.com), and through garnering local, provincial, national, and international media coverage on its campaigns.
 
The organization has grown from 400 to 900 to 2000 donors by the end of its first, second, and third years of existence, respectively, and raised $59,000, $80,000, and $137,000 in revenues each successive year.  The organization also has 23,000 people on its supporters lists (email and Facebook), mainly within British Columbia.
 
“With our regular door canvasses now in Victoria and Vancouver, plus the support we get from small and independent businesses, we’re firmly entrenched in the BC conservation community. As such I’m confident that the Ancient Forest Alliance will be here to stay until our endangered old-growth forests are protected and we see a sustainable forest industry in this province,” stated Wu.
 
Ken Wu is the AFA’s Executive Director, TJ Watt is the Campaigner and Photographer, Joan Varley is the Admin Director, Hannah Carpendale is the Researcher and Writer, Amanda Evans is the Victoria Canvass Director, and Noah Schillo is the Vancouver Canvass Director.
 
Old-growth forests are vital to sustain endangered species, the climate, tourism, clean water, wild salmon, and many First Nations cultures.  On Vancouver Island about 75% of the original, productive old-growth forests have been logged, including 90% of the valley bottoms where the largest trees grow. About 10% of the original, productive old-growth forests have been protected in parks and in Old-Growth Management Areas on Vancouver Island. Of 2.3 million hectares of original, productive old-growth forests on Vancouver Island, about 1.7 million hectares have now been logged.


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