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Common Ground: Newsbytes

Ancient Forest Alliance stands with unions to ban raw log exports

Common Ground, October 1, 2010

Common Ground: Newsbytes
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Arnold Bercov, president of the Pulp, Paper and Woodworkers of Canada (PPWC), Local 8 speaks at the rally in Nanaimo on Sept.16th to ban raw log exports.
Photo by TJ Watt

On September 16, in a seemingly unlikely event, the Ancient Forest Alliance stood in solidarity with members of the Pulp, Paper and Woodworkers of Canada and the United Steelworkers union in Nanaimo as part of the ongoing fight to ban raw log exports in BC. AFA forest campaigner TJ Watt spoke alongside union officials Nanaimo MLA Leonard Krog and Nanaimo-North Cowichan MLA Doug Routley to the hundreds of workers in attendance, denouncing the export of raw logs and calling for the protection of BC’s threatened forestry jobs.

“Under Gordon Campbell’s BC Liberals we have seen over 60 mills shut down across the province since 2003 while raw log exports have nearly doubled,” said Watt. “It’s time to ban raw log exports in BC, to rejuvenate local mills and to once again provide secure jobs for the thousands upon thousands of forestry workers who have been kicked aside by this backwardspolicy…Exported logs equals exported jobs.”

The AFA believes there can be a solution that works for both our ancient forests and our forestry workers. “The BC Liberal government needs to stimulate investment in the retooling of old-growth sawmills so they can handle second-growth trees. With 90 percent of the most productive lands on Vancouver Island having already been logged, the future of this industry is in sustainable second-growth forestry,” says Brendan Harry, communications director of the Ancient Forest Alliance.”

It is inevitable there will be a transition to logging of only second-growth forests in the not so distant future as the remaining old-growth forests become decreasingly accessible to the coastal logging industry in areas like Vancouver Island and the southern mainland. The Ancient Forest Alliance calls on the BC Liberal government to make this transition happen now, in a planned, rational way, allowing for the protection of what little endangered old-growth ecosystems are left and ensuring a smooth shift to sustainable second-growth logging instead.

“If the industry does not adjust in order to process second-growth trees, what happens down the road when that’s basically all that’s available? Where are the forestry jobs going to be?” Watt wonders. “The rest of most of the world is logging second, third, fourth growth and making it work. We need to be moving up the value chain, not down it. In the end, it’s about the long-term sustainability of a resource and an industry and right now we’re moving in completely the wrong direction.”

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