VICTORIA, B.C. — Today at the Legislature, forestry and community stakeholders joined the B.C. Greens in calling for a moratorium to protect Vancouver Island’s vital old-growth ecosystems and to develop more sustainable forest practices that B.C. can depend on for generations to come.
“Our coastal old-growth is not a renewable resource - and there’s not much left,” said MLA Sonia Furstenau, deputy leader of the B.C. Greens. “Stakeholders and experts are clear that the government is inflating the amount of productive old-growth that’s protected from logging. These globally rare ecosystems support threatened species - including wild salmon - and keep our water and air clean.
“We are demanding that the provincial government immediately halt logging in old-growth hotspots on Vancouver Island and invest in transitioning to a sustainable second-growth economy.”
The B.C. Green caucus is calling on government to protect “hotspots”- the few remaining intact, pristine old-growth forests - on Vancouver Island and the people, species, and businesses that depend on them.
“Last year, hundreds of scientists from around the world wrote the NDP government and asked them to protect our rainforests,” Furstenau said. “Last fall, a petition with hundreds of thousands of signatures calling for the same was delivered to the Legislature. Our B.C. Green offices have received more than 20,000 emails from concerned British Columbians asking why the province continues to eradicate its old-growth. We need to take action now.”
At present, 79 per cent of the original productive old-growth forests on Vancouver Island have been logged, including 90 per cent of the valley bottoms where the largest trees grow. Yet according to multiple reviews of their sales schedule, the provincial timber agency is actively auctioning off the remaining old-growth for logging. Despite its 2017 campaign rhetoric, the NDP government is continuing to pursue the Liberal government’s old- growth logging legacy.
“Forestry jobs are of critical importance to B.C., but thousands have been lost over the last few decades. That’s because we haven’t been managing our forests sustainably or promoting value-added manufacturing,” said B.C. Green MLA Adam Olsen, who shares the role of forestry spokesperson. “We want high-paying jobs that are not vulnerable to boom-bust economics. There are mills on Vancouver Island that can only process old-growth. But old-growth is a finite resource, and most of it is already gone. That means those forestry jobs are at risk.
“There are so many solutions available,” Olsen continued. “We can invest in value-added manufacturing and refit our mills. We can sustainably harvest using practices informed by scientific evidence and traditional knowledge. We can collaborate with local communities and Indigenous people who have an intimate knowledge of their landbase.”
“Logging old-growth is short-sighted,” added Furstenau. “It jeopardizes the job stability, local economies, and ecosystem health. The government cannot continue to talk about a future strategy while actively logging these endangered forests. They must act now, or British Columbians and future generations will suffer consequences.”
Andrea Inness, Ancient Forest Alliance Campaigner -
“Old-growth hotspots represent the very best of what remains of B.C.’s unprotected and endangered ancient forests. But thanks to B.C.’s destructive forest policies, they’re disappearing before our eyes. Although we desperately need long-term, science-based solutions for all of B.C. old-growth forests, it is imperative the B.C. government immediately halt logging in hotspots to ensure those areas with the highest conservation value receive the protection they deserve.”
Josie Osborne, Mayor of Tofino -
“We can have healthy, vibrant forest-based economies in Vancouver Island communities while conserving intact, high-productivity hotspots if we have strong leadership, a bold vision, and a plan for a fair transition to a new way of conducting forestry. I believe that industry, First Nations, and communities share the right values to make this transition successfully.”
Lisa Helps, Mayor of Victoria -
“I’d like to add my voice to the chorus of municipal and business leaders on the island calling for the protection of some of the island’s most precious ecological assets and for the preservation of biodiversity. As serious climate leaders, we must protect Vancouver Island’s remaining old-growth forests for generations to come.”
Andy MacKinnon, Forest Ecologist -
“For millennia B.C.’s magnificent coastal old-growth forests have provided us with a wealth of social, economic and ecological benefits. Logging old-growth forests is not renewable resource management – once these old-growth forests are gone, they’re gone forever. And if we’re logging 10,000 hectares of old-growth forests on Vancouver Island every year, we’re certainly the last generation that will have a chance to save these forests for our children.”
Barry Gates, Ecoforestry Institute Society Co-Chair -
“Wildwood Ecoforest serves an example of what forests on Vancouver Island might have looked like had government not engaged in a management policy of old-growth elimination and the replacement of these magnificent forests by short rotation, mono-species stands. In the face of climate change, this decision will have devastating consequences.”
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