For Immediate Release
Sept. 28, 2016
Old-Growth Protection Advocates Celebrate as Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) Passes Resolution to Protect Vancouver Island’s Remaining Old-Growth Forests! BC Liberal government under increasing pressure to amend outdated 1994 Vancouver Island Land Use Plan
Conservationists are celebrating as the members of the Union of BC Municipalities, representing cities, towns, and regional district councils across the province, has passed a resolution with a substantial majority today at their AGM calling on the BC government to amend the 1994 Vancouver Island Land Use Plan to protect the Island’s remaining old-growth forests, which have been decimated from a century of industrial logging.
Victoria – Conservationists with the Ancient Forest Alliance are celebrating today as the province’s largest lobby for local governments, the Union of BC Municipalities, passed a resolution with a substantial majority today calling on the BC government to amend the 1994 Vancouver Land Use Plan to protect the remaining old-growth forests. The initiative, sponsored by forest ecologist and Metchosin councillor Dr. Andy MacKinnon, was previously passed last April by the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities (AVICC).
“It’s time that the BC government amend the outdated Vancouver Island Land Use Plan to protect the remaining old-growth forests on Vancouver Island. Our old-growth forests are a non-renewable resource given climate change and the short rotation age of forestry in this province, and the science indicates that we need to protect and restore old-growth forests on much of the coast”, stated Andy MacKinnon, Metchosin councillor, forest ecologist, and champion of the old-growth resolution.
“This is a huge leap forward in the campaign to protect the remaining old-growth forests on Vancouver Island! BC largest local governmental lobby now joins the BC Chamber of Commerce, the conservation movement, and hundreds of thousands of citizens asking the BC Liberal government to protect our old-growth forests. The BC government's preferred policy of logging until the end of our unprotected ancient forests is not sustainable – not only for endangered species and tourism, but ultimately for BC’s forestry workers, who need government leadership to ensure a sustainable, second-growth forest industry if they are to have a future”, stated Ken Wu, executive director of the Ancient Forest Alliance.
“After the California redwoods, Vancouver Island’s old-growth forests are the grandest on Earth. With 75% of the original productive old-growth forests already logged, including well over 90% of the largest trees in the valley bottoms, it should be a no-brainer for the BC government to protect our last old-growth forests while ensuring a sustainable second-growth forest industry,” stated TJ Watt, Ancient Forest Alliance campaigner and photographer. The resolution by BC’s largest local governmental lobby also follows a resolution earlier this year in May by the BC Chamber of Commerce, the province’s largest business lobby representing 36,000 businesses, calling on the BC government to expand protections for old-growth forests. See: www.ancientforestalliance.org/news-item.php?ID=1010
The editorial board of the Vancouver Sun, the province’s largest newspaper, on Sunday also called on the BC government to show some conservation leadership around Vancouver Island’s old-growth forests, noting that the status quo of old-growth logging is ramping up conflict and uncertainty in the forest industry. They wrote:
“There is a legitimate discussion to be had about the value of old-growth forests, about whether what remains on the South Coast and Vancouver Island is sufficiently protected, about the extent to which the remaining inventory should be protected, and about resource jobs and the rights of companies to do legal business. Surely, however, there is also a clear role for the provincial government, which has duties of both environmental stewardship and resource management, to serve as an intermediary in such conflicts by providing clear, science-based, arm’s-length evidence as the foundation for an even-handed conversation and to help the two groups whose interests it represents to find common ground. More leadership and less lethargy from Victoria, please.” See: http://vancouversun.com/opinion/editorials/editorial-victoria-must-intervene-in-renewed-war-in-the-woods
The catalyst for much of the momentum for protecting old-growth forests on Vancouver Island in recent years has been the small community of Port Renfrew, formerly a logging town, which has been transformed in recent years into a big tree tourism destination (dubbed the “Tall Trees Capital of Canada”) as hundreds of thousands of tourists have come from around the world to visit some of Canada’s largest trees in the nearby Avatar Grove, Big Lonely Doug (Canada’s 2nd largest Douglas-fir tree), the Red Creek Fir (the world’s largest Douglas-fir tree), San Juan Spruce (until recently Canada’s largest Sitka spruce tree – its top broke off in a recent storm unfortunately), the Harris Creek spruce (one of the largest Sitka spruce trees in Canada), and the endangered Central Walbran Valley. The Ancient Forest Alliance has been working with the local Chamber of Commerce for years to protect the old-growth forests in the area, in the territory of the Pacheedaht First Nations Band, and to complete a boardwalk in the now protected Avatar Grove.
The Ancient Forest Alliance and various conservation groups had mobilized their supporters to ask their mayors and councils to pressure the UBCM to allow for a vote on the old-growth resolution, as the UBCM’s Resolutions Committee had originally refused to introduce the resolution for a vote at the AGM, citing misleading statistics from the BC government on the state of old-growth forests (see a rebuttal of their stats and arguments at: www.ancientforestalliance.org/news-item.php?ID=1052) Metchosin Councillor Dr. Andy MacKinnon and Victoria Councillor Ben Isitt co-championed the resultion on the floor of the UBCM AGM.
The Ancient Forest Alliance is calling on the BC government to implement a comprehensive science-based plan to protect all of BC’s remaining endangered old-growth forests, and to also ensure a sustainable, value-added second-growth forest industry.
Old-growth forests are vital to sustain endangered species, climate stability, tourism, clean water, wild salmon, and the cultures of many First Nations. On BC’s southern coast, satellite photos show that at least 75% of the original, productive old-growth forests have been logged, including well over 90% of the valley bottoms where the largest trees grow. See maps and stats on the remaining old-growth forests on BC’s southern coast at: www.ancientforestalliance.org/old-growth-maps.php
In order to placate public fears about the loss of BC’s endangered old-growth forests, the BC government’s PR-spin typically over-inflates the amount of remaining old-growth forests by including hundreds of thousands of hectares of marginal, low productivity forests growing in bogs and at high elevations with smaller, stunted trees, lumped in with the productive old-growth forests, where the large trees grow (and where most logging takes place). “It’s like including your Monopoly money with your real money and then claiming to be a millionaire, so why curtail spending?” stated the Ancient Forest Alliance’s Ken Wu.