2/16/2011

Remind Forest Minister Pat Bell That He Works For You

Old growth trees such as this ancient cedar deserve full protection

The minister of Forests, Mines, and Lands, Pat Bell, usually looks out for the interests of big logging companies. Lately, though, he is sounding like he is getting ready to work for his real employers - the people of British Columbia.

All those letters, phone calls and emails must be having there intended effect, and it sounds like Bell is beginning to listen.

The Times Colonist reported today that Minister Bell said that the province is looking for new ways to protect ancient trees and groves containing forest giants.

The positive news caught Ancient Forest Alliance co-founder Ken Wu off guard.  “I have to admit this was an unexpected surprise considering the rocky relationship the B.C. government has had with our campaign for so long,” he said.

Does this signal big changes in the way BC exploits its old growth forests that are disappearing at an alarming rate in places like Vancouver Island and the lower mainland? Probably not. Bell says that there are no plans to end logging of old growth forests. Huge trees up to, and over, 1000 years old will continue to be killed for short term commercial gain.

Indeed, Bell was quoted as saying that, "There is more old growth today than we have ever had," and that "We are not running out of old growth on Vancouver Island or in BC". Considering how much old growth has been decimated already, and how poorly re-planting has been conducted, I find these statements extremely hard to believe.

"Hi, I work for you"
Photo by: Darren Stone
The government is fudging statistics to pacify the public, and justify the continued desecration of ancient forests.

The fact is that over 90% of the original old growth forest in valley bottoms on Vancouver Island has already been logged. These areas are the biologically richest, and are where the biggest trees grow. It takes 250 years for a forest to reach old growth status. The harvest cycle in BC is about 40 - 80 years, so how is it possible that we have more old growth now than when we started destroying the mighty Pacific coastal forest?

But the minister has said that his recent announcement of new protection measures is the result of public pressure. That means that if we keep the pressure up, we can push for a ban on old growth logging in BC, and especially on Vancouver Island.

The big tree/old growth advocacy IS working. It should be working because, after all, Pat Bell works for us, and we overwhelmingly state that we want old growth to be protected.

Other things that can be mentioned in an email or letter are:

- We need legislated timelines to quickly end old-growth logging on Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland (ie. the south coast) where old-growth forests are now scarce.
 
- We must promote the sustainable logging of second-growth forests which now constitute 75% of the productive forests on BC’s south coast.

- Banning the export of raw, unprocessed logs to foreign countries to ensure a steady supply of logs for BC’s saw mills and pulp mills.

- The government must assist in the retooling and development of second-growth mills and value-added wood processing facilities.

Email Minister Bell here.

Keep up the pressure, tree lovers! Let's save the old trees, and create a sustainable forest industry in BC. Remind Mr. Bell that he works for you.


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