Protesters fighting plans to log an old-growth forest on the Sunshine Coast are celebrating a temporary victory after construction of a logging road was halted temporarily.
The protesters, who have set up camp near Roberts Creek, say the area is an important bear habitat that will be destroyed if the trees come down.
Hans Penner has been taking turns blocking access to a service road in the Dakota Creek area of Mount Elphinstone, where the government has plans to auction off 53 hectares of old-growth timber, including ancient balsam, hemlock and yellow cedar.
“This is some of the last old growth forest in the world,” Penner said. “So really, the natural history, the cultural history is actually irreplaceable. It doesn't exist anywhere else.”
Penner said the area has become a sanctuary for bears. He hired biologist Wayne McCrory who identified seven likely bear dens in the one day.
Bears pushed out by logging
Penner said there are so many bears here because they've been pushed out of other areas by logging. That is why the government needs to protect what little old-growth forest remains in the province, he added.
He said he's been trying to persuade the government for years, compiling evidence, but eventually resorted to the protest in the woods.
“Blocking a road was a last resort,” he said. “We had spent over two years already doing our own studies, like the bear den report, the archaeological report, biodiversity reports, trying to convince the government that this area should not be logged.”
The protest appears to have made an impact.
Earlier this week, contractors stopped building roads and preparing the land for logging. On Saturday, the government confirmed that the road building has stopped, and the company will review its options over the winter.