10/17/2011

British Columbia's War On Old Growth Forests

"TIMBER" - Say good-bye to BC's ancient forests

BC's coastal forest is part of a globally rare ecosystem - the temperate rain forest at its height only covered under one percent of the Earth's land surface. Over 1/2 of this unique rain forest has been logged globally in a deforestation unparalleled in human history.

BC has some of the largest tracts of original temperate rainforest left, a distinction it shares with Alaska and Chile. But, for a variety of insufficient reasons, every day that dawns in beautiful BC sees giant, old growth temperate rain forest trees cut to the ground. Massive specimens, up to a thousand years old or more, are felled to build decks and make toilet paper. 

Increasingly, BC citizens are calling for an end to the War On Old Growth Forests, and it couldn't come too soon. In the past 150 years up to 89% of the productive ancient forests of Vancouver Island have been decimated.

In the 1980s, concerned citizens blockaded logging on Clayoquot Sound's largest island. Because of their forward thinking, Meares Island still retains its near-intact original forest today. Although there is precious little remaining old growth, Clayoquot  holds the distinction of having the largest intact ancient forest left on Vancouver Island.

Clayoquot Sound old growth trees, Mark Hobson photo

In 1993 one of the largest civil disobedience events in Canadian history took place in Clayoquot Sound. 12,000 forest defenders joined together on a logging access road and proclaimed the area off limits. Nearly 1000 people, including senior citizens, were arrested protecting this natural area of global significance. They proved that the people are the only ones that can safe our forests.

However, today it remains under the threat of rapacious multi-national logging corporations, and governments that have no regard for the future or the public interest.

The logging of old growth continues, and forest defenders fight to end it before the ancient forest is extinct, along with many of the species that depend on it for survival.

On south Vancouver Island a few logging hot spots in the news recently are:
  • the Old Arrowsmith trail (close to world famous Cathedral Grove)
  • areas bordering world famous Pacific Rim National Park
  • steep hillsides in the Cowichan Lake area and,
  • Clayoquot Sound

Standing on the stump of an ancient cedar tree in 2000, a member of Hesquiat First Nation gazes over the clearcut wasteland of his ancestral territory on Clayoquot Sound, Vancouver Island. The deep scars of logging roads and erosion are clearly visible on the mountain in the distance, evidence of the brutal clearcutting by Interfor. Adrian Dorst photo, source
The Old Arrowsmith Trail was first built in 1912, and is the oldest trail still in use on Vancouver Island. It is located at the south end of Cameron Lake, a few kilometers east of world famous Cathedral Grove. Logging company Island Timberlands has given notice that they will be logging the area, putting in jeopardy the last foot accesses to Mount Arrowsmith Regional Park. Sections of the Lower Ralph Rousseau trail that leads from the back of Cathedral Grove are unusable since recent clear cutting there.

Pacific Rim National Park encompasses some of Vancouver Island's most spectacular scenery. Over a million people visit this ecologically significant destination every year. Unfortunately, Pacific Rim was not designed with a buffer zone, and logging has been encroaching ever since the park's inception in the 1970s. Clear cuts extend right up to the boundary lines, and often chain saws, logging trucks, and large log-lifting helicopters can be heard from your campground.

Cowichan Lake area (including Carmanah/Walbran) has been under constant and continuous logging pressure for a hundred years. The easy trees are long gone, and now increasingly desperate corporations are going after the more marginal old growth areas, like steep hillsides. This type of logging often causes massive erosion, soil loss, and sedimentation/degradation of salmon streams.

Clayoquot Sound, with the largest area of old growth forest and the only cluster of unlogged valleys remaining on Vancouver Island, is in constant threat from those who look at these valleys and see only dollar signs. Agreements and promises resulting from the '93 citizen occupation are under threat because there is big money to be made plundering this global treasure.

Former MP Keith Martin atop a recently cut, 1000 year+ redcedar stump
near Port Renfrew, TJ Watt photo

BC Forest Facts
  • BC has about 1/4 of the world's remaining coastal temperate rainforest.
  • Just over 1/2 of BC's coastal temperate rainforest has been cut already.
  • 3/4 of the productive ancient forest on Vancouver Island has been logged already.
  • 13% of the island's area is protected in parks, but this contains only 6% of the island's productive forest.
  • Of 89 large primary valleys on Vancouver Island (valleys that are 5,000 hectares or larger that empty directly into the ocean), only 6 remain undeveloped (completely unlogged or less than 2% logged).
Contact your elected officials and let them know how you feel about the planned extinction of our ancient forests. It is up to us to save them. Let's end the BC government's War On Old Growth Forests.

Honourable Christy Clark, Premier
PO BOX 9041 STN PROV GOVT
Victoria BC
V8W9E1
CANADA

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