B.C. Greens call for immediate halt to old-growth logging on Vancouver Island

Published: May 13, 2019
Posted in: News Coverage
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CTV Vancouver Island
May 13, 2019

The B.C. Green Party is calling for an immediate halt to the logging of old-growth forests on Vancouver Island.

The Greens called on the government to impose a logging moratorium at the B.C. legislature Monday, asking the province to adopt more sustainable forestry practices to protect old-growth ecosystems.

“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.”

The B.C. Green caucus said in a news release that an immediate transition to a “second-growth economy” is necessary to protect the island’s remaining untouched old-growth habitats.

“Last year, hundreds of scientists from around the world wrote the NDP government and asked them to protect our rainforests,” Furstenau said.

“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.”

The Greens accused the NDP government of pursuing the previous Liberal government’s old-growth logging policy.

“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.”

Olsen said investing in value-added manufacturing and refitting existing mills will protect the island’s most endangered forest ecosystems.

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps voiced her support for the Green initiative, saying, “as serious climate leaders, we must protect Vancouver Island’s remaining old-growth forests for generations to come.”

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Note: Keep in mind that, while Forests Minister Doug Donaldson states that a moratoria would be devastating for forestry workers, thousands of forestry jobs have already been lost over the last 20 years largely due to the decline in availability of old-growth trees from excessive clearcut logging.

The BC government needs to help create a forest industry for the future, not continue down the forest policies of the past. This can be done by facilitating the shift to a sustainable, value-added, second-growth forest sector while quickly phasing out logging of BC’s old-growth forests. It means creating incentives and regulations to support retooling of mills to handle second-growth trees; developing a long-term, science-based plan for the protection of ancient forests; and, in the meantime, putting a halt on the logging of the most intact, endangered old-growth forest “hotspots.”

First and foremost, the Forests Minister needs to stop hiding behind misleading stats and acknowledge there’s a crisis on our hands. For example, of the 520,000 hectares of old-growth forest that Donaldson states are protected on Vancouver Island, only about 160,000 hectares are productive old-growth while the other 360,000 hectares are low productivity forests with little to no commercial value. He also states that over 50% of the old-growth on the coast is protected, but this includes the Great Bear Rainforest, where 85% of forests are set aside from commercial logging and where the forests are not as endangered compared to the south coast. He also leaves out vast, largely cut-over private lands and ignores the context of how much has already been logged since European colonization!

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