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Posted April 24, 2013

NDP Full Platform Released Today - Old-Growth Protection Mentioned and $1 million/year Allocated to Protect Endangered Species and Habitat

Media Release, April 24, 2013

NDP Full Platform Released Today - Old-Growth Protection Mentioned and $1 million/year Allocated to Protect Endangered Species and Habitat
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Old-growth redar stump - Klanawa Valley, southwestern Vancouver Island, BC. 2013
Photo by TJ Watt

 

NDP Full Platform Released Today - Old-Growth Protection Mentioned and $1 million/year allocated to Protect Endangered Species and Habitat

Today BC NDP leader Adrian Dix announced the party’s full platform – see: www.bcndp.ca/files/BCNDP-Platform-2013-Web.pdf

The platform includes a brief mention of protecting old-growth forests, and allocating $1 million/year to protect endangered species habitats.

“On old-growth forests, the NDP may be starting to move forward, but their position is still mysterious like the Ogopogo. There appears to be a head popping above the surface, and there could be something huge and substantive underneath - or it could be a fleeting illusion. We encourage the party to make it substantive and not ‘more of the same’. The crucial details are how much, where, and when they’ll protect old-growth forests – and if it’s above and beyond the unsustainable status quo. There’s a large scale ecological crisis underway in BC’s old-growth forests as we lose biodiversity and as ecosystems collapse, and continuing the status quo is simply untenable. We encourage the NDP to come forward with a detailed, stronger commitment on protecting old-growth forests,” stated Ken Wu, Ancient Forest Alliance’s executive director.

“The $1 million/year for endangered species habitat for three years is better than nothing, but it’s small. We need a much more comprehensive land acquisition fund to purchase and protect endangered ecosystems on private lands on a much larger scale before they’re gobbled up by development,” Wu continued.

The Environment Platform (page 42) states the party will “Protect significant ecological areas like wetlands, estuaries and valuable old-growth forests.” The recognition of the importance of protecting old-growth forests is a step forward for the party, which made no mention of old-growth or the environment in their previously released Forestry Platform, to the chagrin of conservationists. However, the critical details of “how much”, “where”, and “when” are not mentioned in today's platform.

Tracts of old-growth forests are regularly protected in BC each year through the implementation of regional land use plans that designate new Old-Growth Management Areas (OGMA’s), often in marginal old-growth stands with stunted trees - while at the same time larger areas of ancient forests are logged. The crucial question on old-growth policy is if the NDP’s old-growth plan will exceed the inadequate protection levels of the status quo under the BC Liberals and restrict or end the logging of endangered old-growth forests in any region of the province.

The Ancient Forest Alliance is calling for BC’s politicians to commit to the protection of BC’s endangered old-growth forests, to ensure a sustainable, value-added second-growth forest industry, and to end the export of raw, unprocessed logs to foreign mills. Old-growth forests are vital to support endangered species, tourism, the climate, clean water, wild salmon, and many First Nations cultures. About 75% of the original, productive old-growth forests have been logged on BC’s southern coast, including 90% of the valley bottoms with the largest trees and richest biodiversity.

In the party’s Fiscal Plan (page 54), under the “Protecting our Environment” budget, the party allocates $1 million/year to “protect endangered species and habitats”. This may be similar to limited version of a BC park acquisition fund that the Ancient Forest Alliance has been calling on the NDP to reinstate. The Ancient Forest Alliance is calling for a $40 million/year BC park acquisition fund – equivalent to about 1/1000th of the provincial budget - in a provincial fund similar to the park acquisition funds of many Regional Districts like the Capital Regional District around Victoria. The fund would be used to help purchase significant tracts of endangered private lands of high conservation, scenic, and recreation value to add to BC’s protected areas system. Private lands constitute about 5% of BC’s land base, or about 4 million hectares, and include some of the rarest and most endangered ecosystems in the province, including the drier Douglas-fir dominated old-growth forests, Garry Oak meadows, wetlands, deciduous riparian forests, sage-filled grasslands, and the semi-arid “pocket desert” in the South Okanagan. The BC Liberals nixed the province’s park acquisition fund after the 2008 budget.

“Studies have shown that for every $1 spent by the BC government on our protected areas system, another $9 in tourism revenues is generated in the provincial economy,” stated TJ Watt, campaigner and photographer with the AFA. “What better investment can we make than to spend a modest sum each year to protect Beautiful British Columbia?”

The BC Green Party has committed to a science-based plan to protect BC’s endangered old-growth forests. See: www.andrewjweaver.ca/bc_green_party_forestry_action_plan

The BC Liberals still hold their unscientific, anti-environmental stance that “old-growth forests are not disappearing” and that they’ve managed them well, and are leaving a legacy of old-growth forest liquidation and environmental deregulation across most of BC. Over 30,000 BC forestry jobs lost were lost under their reign, while tens of millions of raw logs were exported.

NDP Leader Adrian Dix, during his 2011 campaign to become party leader, promised to: “Develop a long term strategy for old growth forests in the province, including protection of specific areas that are facing immediate logging plans.” (see point #4 in “Ecosystem Management” http://conservationvoters.ca/past-endorsements/leadership-race-2011/ndp-candidates/adrian-dix). While several NDP MLA’s have championed protecting specific old-growth forests while in Opposition, which the Ancient Forest Alliance has given kudos for, at this time Dix and the NDP party as a whole have not followed up by developing any comprehensive plan with specifics on old-growth protection.

See spectacular photos of our old-growth forests at: www.ancientforestalliance.org/galleries.php (NOTE: Media are free to reprint any photos, credit to “TJ Watt” if possible. Let us know if you need higher res shots too)

See a recent ancient forest campaign video at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=z6YTizBF-jE

Authorized by the Ancient Forest Alliance, registered sponsor under the Election Act
Ancient Forest, Alliance, Victoria Main PO, PO Box 8459, Victoria, BC, V8W 3S1 Canada


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