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It’s time for the BC government to curb raw log exports and boost value-added forestry jobs

February 27

Between 2013 and 2016, more raw logs were shipped from BC than during any other four-year period in the province’s history, prompting two forest industry unions and three leading environmental groups to call for a ban on raw log exports from old-growth forests and bold government action to stimulate BC’s flagging forest sector.

Raw log exports. Photo by TJ Watt.

The call follows new research released today by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives’ BC Office (CCPA-BC) that shows how exports of raw, unprocessed logs are surging. If these logs were processed in some of BC’s hardest hit forestry communities, at least 3,600 new jobs could be generated.

Last year, BC forest companies exported enough raw logs to frame nearly 134,000 homes, which equals roughly half of  Vancouver’s standing single-family homes. Instead of creating thousands of good-paying jobs in rural communities, logs are exported in raw form.

The Public and Private Workers of Canada along with UNIFOR (Canada’s largest private sector union), the Ancient Forest Alliance, Sierra Club BC and the Wilderness Committee say the Province should enact a bold three-point plan to curb exports and stimulate jobs:

  1. Place an immediate ban on all exports of raw logs from old-growth forests.
  2. Immediately impose progressively higher taxes on log exports from second-growth forests to encourage investment in domestic mills.
  3. Introduce new policies to increase value-added forest manufacturing and jobs in rural and First Nations communities.

Four years of log export data analyzed by the CCPA-BC uncovered a number of disturbing trends in log exports from BC:

  • Between 2013 and 2016, nearly 26 million cubic meters of raw logs, with a combined sales value of more than $3 billion, were shipped from BC – more than any other four-year period since record keeping began.
  • More than one in three logs exported in the past five years came from BC’s centuries-old coastal old-growth rainforests
  • Most log exports in the past five years came from public lands under direct provincial control, not from private lands where the BC government has no jurisdiction, which is a sharp reversal from previous norms.

Vancouver Island rainforest. Photo by Charly Caproff.

Sierra Club BC is working toward solutions for healthy rainforests and healthy communities and worked with the BC government, First Nations and stakeholders on implementation of the Great Bear Rainforest Agreements. Regional models like the Ecosystem-Based Management framework in the Great Bear Rainforest must be complemented with coherent province-wide conservation, climate and economic policies to ensure forestry can contribute jobs as part of a diverse, low carbon economy. For more information, please read our ten-point plan for transition toward this vision in our report, The Future is Here.

Please donate today to support our work protecting BC’s ancient and endangered old-growth forests.

Feature image by TJ Watt.

 

Sierra Club BC wins prestigious award

Sierra Club BC is proud to announce that we have been awarded one of the most prestigious international environmental awards for our work on the Great Bear Rainforest Agreements.

Old-growth logging rate will lead to collapse on Vancouver Island

In the last 11 years Vancouver Island lost 100,000 hectares of old-growth rainforest. This high rate of logging will inevitably led to an ecological and economic collapse unless the B.C. government takes immediate action.

Photo by Jens Wieting

Photo by Jens Wieting

We’re calling on our provincial government to:

  • increase protection for old-growth trees
  • introduce a plan to phase out old-growth logging
  • support a faster transition toward sustainable, value-added second-growth logging

Help Sierra Club BC protect B.C.’s wilderness, species, and ecosystems by donating today.

The old-growth forests that are being so rapidly logged play an essential role in the well-being of both indigenous and non-indigenous communities. They are also critical to maintaining biodiversity, clean air, and clean water.

Their role in combating climate change must not be overlooked. Old-growth trees are one of our greatest allies as we tackle a warming planet. The trees continue to sequester carbon throughout their lives, whereas a second-growth tree will take decades until it plays a similar role.

Vancouver Island’s incredible carbon sink has been dramatically reduced as a result of logging. Much of the old-growth has been converted from old to young forest and is now contributing to climate change. Our 2009 report, estimates the overall loss of old-growth carbon on Vancouver Island as a result of logging to be at least 370 million tonnes of carbon dioxide. That amount is nearly six times B.C.’s reported annual emissions.

Old-growth in the Walbran Valley.

Old-growth in the Walbran Valley.
Photo by Rachel Grigg

Despite the rapidly decreasing amount of old-growth rainforest on Vancouver Island, the average annual amount of old-growth logging has actually increased by 12 per cent. From 2007 to 2011, a period with an unfavourable market for wood products, 7,600 hectares of old-growth forest were logged annually. From 2011 to 2015 that amount increased to 9,000 hectares

Today there remains only approximately 384,000 of relatively productive, old-growth rainforest ecosystems.  Of the original three million hectares of old-growth rainforest on the island, only about 10 per cent of the biggest trees are left standing. Much of this is unprotected and still at risk of being logged.

The recent finalization of the Great Bear Rainforest Agreements by First Nations governments and the B.C. government shows that solutions are possible. The agreements met science-based conservation levels, strengthened First Nations rights, enabled conservation financing and forest carbon credit projects, and have given forestry companies certainty for logging under stringent standards.

In contrast, south of the Great Bear region coastal rainforests are in a state of ecological emergency as a result of too much logging and a dismal level of protection.

A comprehensive conservation and forest management plan for Vancouver Island must respect First Nations rights and interests, enable a transition to sustainable second-growth forestry, support diverse economic activities such as tourism and reduce carbon emissions.

Read our news release: Vancouver Island old-growth logging rate will lead to collapse, July 14, 2016

Read further coverage of this story:

CBC News: Vancouver Island old growth on brink of collapse, environmental group claims

Times Colonist: ‘Generational amnesia’ softens fight for forests

Vancouver Sun: Sierra Club calls for a moratorium on old growth logging

 

Featured image by Jens Wieting

Vancouver Island old-growth logging rate will lead to collapse

Vancouver Island lost another 100,000 hectares of old-growth rainforest in 11 years

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 14, 2016

VICTORIA—Sierra Club BC warns that high and increasing old-growth logging rates on Vancouver Island will lead to an ecological and economic collapse unless the B.C. government changes course. The Province must increase protection and introduce a plan to phase out old-growth logging including support for a faster transition towards sustainable, value-added second-growth logging.

A review of government logging data by the environmental organization shows that 243,000 hectares of rainforest were logged on Vancouver Island between 2004 and 2015. Of this amount, 100,000 hectares were old-growth rainforest.

“We are urging the B.C. government to take immediate action to protect and restore the coastal rainforests on Vancouver Island,” said Jens Wieting, Sierra Club BC’s forest and climate campaigner. “Leadership for the well-being of indigenous and non-indigenous communities, for biodiversity, clean air, clean water, long-term forestry jobs, and as one of the world’s most efficient carbon sinks is urgent.”

Despite the rapidly decreasing amount of old-growth rainforest on Vancouver Island, the average annual amount of old-growth logging has increased by 12 per cent. From 2007 to 2011, a period with an unfavourable market for wood products, 7,600 hectares of old-growth forest were logged annually. From 2011 to 2015 that amount increased to 9,000 hectares. Sierra Club BC estimates that only approximately 384,000 hectares of relatively productive, unprotected old-growth rainforest ecosystems remain today. Of this amount a significant portion is still at risk of being logged before the unavoidable transition to 100 per cent second-growth logging.

“It is only a matter of time before the logging industry runs out of old-growth trees and fully transitions to second-growth,” said Wieting. “But despite shrinking revenue and jobs from logging, and despite the increasing value of endangered old-growth for species, a diverse economy, climate action, and clean air and water, thousands of hectares of old-growth rainforest are still being cut every year.”

Today the vast majority of the original three million hectares of old-growth rainforest on the island has been logged and only about 10 per cent of the biggest trees are left standing. The original record-high carbon sink in ancient trees has been dramatically reduced as a result of the conversion of old to young forest and has contributed to climate change. A 2009 Sierra Club BC report estimates the overall loss of old-growth carbon on Vancouver Island as a result of logging to be at least 370 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, almost six times B.C.’s reported annual emissions.

The recent finalization of the Great Bear Rainforest Agreements by First Nations governments and the B.C. government shows that solutions are possible. The agreements met science-based conservation levels, strengthened First Nations rights, enabled conservation financing and forest carbon credit projects, and have given forestry companies certainty for logging under stringent standards.

In contrast, south of the Great Bear region coastal rainforests are in a state of ecological emergency as a result of too much logging and a dismal level of protection. Climate impacts like droughts and storms exert additional pressure resulting in severe consequences for watersheds and salmon. Raw-log exports are at a record high and jobs per cubic meter at a record low compared to other parts of the world, leaving neither healthy forests nor healthy communities.

A comprehensive conservation and forest management plan for Vancouver Island must respect First Nations rights and interests, enable a transition to sustainable second-growth forestry, support diverse economic activities such as tourism and reduce carbon emissions.

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Contact:

Jens Wieting

Forest and Climate Campaigner, Sierra Club BC

604-354-5312

Read Stephen Hume’s story in the Vancouver Sun.

Images:

 

Remaining Old Growth Original Old Growth

Giants of the Salish Sea: Humpback whales

By Heather Fleming

Photo by Orca Spirit Adventures.

Photo by Orca Spirit Adventures.

Standing at Clover Point and looking out into the Salish Sea, it’s hard to believe there are giants swimming just off in the distance: humpback whales. Humpbacks reach lengths of 17 m (55 ft) and 40,000 kg (88,184 lbs). They are predominantly black with variable amounts of white ventrally. The whales have huge pectoral flippers that can reach about a third of the length of their body.  Their underside has 14-35 ventral pleats that span from their chin all the way down to their navel. These pleats will expand like an accordion while feeding, allowing them to take in massive amounts of food. Lining the tops of their mouths, they have 270-400 plates of baleen that work as a big filter. Humpbacks get their name from a small hump with a little dorsal fin located about two-thirds of the way down their bodies. When they go down for a deep dive and arch their backs, you can really see why they got their name, creating a big hump as they descend into the depth of the sea.

They have travelled all the way here from the warm waters surrounding the Hawaiian Islands or Baja Mexico, and most are heading even further north. These whales do one of the longest migrations of any species on the planet, swimming almost 20,000 km each year! They do this migration because they must give birth in the warm waters and eat in the the cold waters.

Photo by Orca Spirit Adventures.

Photo by Orca Spirit Adventures.

After around a 12 month gestation period, the calves are born in the warm waters. Here, they will take a month or two to build up their blubber layer on mom’s nutrient rich milk, before heading north. The males and females that have not given birth that year will travel north before the new mothers and calves. Where they end up is completely dependent on where they find food. This will generally be the cold oxygen-rich waters near Alaska. However, sometimes they will find large schools of krill, pilcher or herring along the way, and have no need to continue on further.

Feeding time is immensely important for these animals, because they can go up to 8 months without food. They have developed a unique way of feeding that allows them to engulf massive amounts of food with one big sweep. Humpbacks will find a school of their prey, scare it into a ball and lunge at it with their mouths wide open, often breaching the surface with their mouths agape! They will then partially close the mouth, push the tongue against the roof of the mouth, and push all the water and small particulate out through the baleen, then gulp back the food whole. Ideally, humpbacks will eat one tonne of food a day in their feeding grounds.

Photo by Orca Spirit Adventures.

Photo by Orca Spirit Adventures.

Commercial whaling of humpbacks in the 19th and 20th centuries took a great toll on the North Pacific population. The International Whaling Commission banned hunting of humpbacks in 1966. Unfortunately, by this point only 1200-1400 whales remained from a population that was thought to be greater than 15,000. Since this time, it is believed that they have almost made a full recovery. The greatest threats to these whales now are entanglement in fishing gear and ship strikes.

It is quite remarkable how quickly a species can bounce back when given the chance.  If there is ever an ounce of doubt that our actions won’t make a difference, we have to look back at success stories like this one to remind ourselves that we can make positive change.

Want to support strong environmental education in BC? Please consider making a donation to Sierra Club BC today.

Featured image by Orca Spirit Adventures

Get a copy of the “Vancouver Island’s Last Stand” newspaper

The time is now to protect and restore Vancouver Island’s endangered rainforest! Pick up a copy of our “Vancouver Island’s Last Stand” Vancouver Island's Last Stand newspaper_pg1newspaper (jointly published with our friends at Wilderness Committee) and find out why now is the time for action.

You can get the paper at the Sierra Club BC office, various locations around the province, or download your copy here.

Inside “Vancouver Island’s Last Stand”:

  • The Central Walbran: Southern Vancouver Island’s last stand
  • The state of forests on Vancouver Island and in the Great Bear Rainforest
  • Old-growth forest and climate change
  • A new map showing unprotected endangered rainforest areas on Vancouver Island
  • New hope for Clayoquot Sound’s intact rainforest valleys
  • The importance of old-growth for indigenous culture
  • Raw log exports: a made-in-BC problem that’s only getting worse
  • A new conservation plan for Vancouver Island’s rainforest
  • All you need to write the B.C. government and support our call for action

Get your copy today and share it with your family, friends, and colleagues!

We’ll also have copies of the newspaper available at Save the Walbran: Updates from the Coastal Forest on April 27th. Hope to see you there.

 

A Chance for Premier Clark to Say No to Kinder Morgan

On Tuesday Jan. 12, B.C. will be making its submission to the National Energy Board (NEB) on the proposed Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain project and we expect her to reject the pipeline and tankers project.

She’s done it before: in May 2013, Christy Clark rejected the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline. This helped pave the way for Prime Minister Trudeau to kill the project once and for all with a tanker ban on the north coast.

Premier Clark has five conditions that must be met before the Province would approve the project. Enbridge does not and can not meet those conditions, and neither can the proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline.

Condition 1: Successful completion of the environmental review process.

The NEB process for this project has been widely criticized as flawed and biased in favour of the proponent. Among other failings, the NEB review process has curtailed public participation, denied participants adequate and timely funding, allowed Kinder Morgan to submit incomplete information and ignore information requests, disallowed the consideration of upstream and downstream impacts, disallowed the consideration of climate and failed to ensure Kinder Morgan’s environmental and risk assessment conformed to best practices. You can read our detailed report on this utterly flawed process here.

Condition 2: World-leading marine oil spill response, prevention and recovery systems for B.C.’s coastline and ocean to manage and mitigate the risks and costs of heavy oil pipelines and shipments.

Condition 3: World-leading practices for land oil spill prevention, response and recovery systems to manage and mitigate the risks and costs of heavy oil pipelines.

A recent study commissioned by the B.C. government showed that effective spill response is impossible much of the time on the B.C. coast.  Even under the best and most accessible of conditions, 10 to 15 per cent clean-up is the industry standard, leaving the rest of the oil behind in the marine ecosystem, poisoning coastal and marine life and the communities that depend upon it. No amount of safety precautions can justify the extreme risk of increasing tanker traffic on B.C.’s coast. The state of land spill response is little better.

Condition 4: Legal requirements regarding Aboriginal and treaty rights are addressed, and First Nations are provided with the opportunities, information and resources necessary to participate in and benefit from a heavy-oil project.

Along the proposed pipeline path, many First Nations peoples have vocally opposed this proposal, including twelve nations who signed an open letter challenging the NEB process. The Tsleil-Waututh Nation went to court in October 2015 to challenge the NEB consultation process, calling it unconstitutional and highlighting rights, title and consultation concerns.

Condition 5: British Columbia receives a fair share of the fiscal and economic benefits of a proposed heavy oil project that reflects the level, degree and nature of the risk borne by the province, the environment and taxpayers.

An oil spill could cost $1.23 billion, that does not include costs associated with health, property, non-tourism businesses, spill response, clean-up, and litigation, nor does it look beyond the lower mainland.

Regardless of the financial cost of oil spill clean-up efforts, it is British Columbians who will live with the consequences. There is no social license for this project. First Nations, Municipalities, unions, scientists, business owners and members of the general public have all stood up against this project.

And there is one more condition, not mentioned in the Premier’s five, that must be considered, especially after the Paris climate talks committed Canada to keeping global warming to 1.5ºC: that is climate.

As part of the environmental assessment process, every energy project must be put to a climate test. It’s a simple question: does it make the climate worse?  If it does, we don’t build it. Simple as that.

The Kinder Morgan pipeline simply cannot pass a climate test. The project would completely undermine our capacity to achieve emissions reduction targets to fulfill international obligations.

Now is the time for the provincial government to demonstrate meaningful climate leadership by clearly opposing Kinder Morgan’s proposal. In its final submission to the NEB, our provincial government  must remember who it works for and what is best for this province. It must say No!

 

For more information:

May 31, 2013 B.C. government news release.

Report: Credibility Crisis: Major flaws threaten credibility of NEB assessment process for Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain tankers and pipeline proposal

 

 

Photo credit: Andrew S. Wright

 

 

 

Old-growth logging in the Walbran continues

On January 4, logging company Teal Jones went to court and gained a new injunction to keep concerned citizens out of the Walbran Valley until March 31, 2016.

Protests for protection of the Walbran intensified in the fall of 2015 after the B.C. government awarded the first of eight logging permits for the most contentious unprotected area, the 485 hectare Castle Grove in the heart of the valley.

In an area of the Walbran Valley dubbed Black Diamond Grove, among monumental cedars, massive Sitka spruce, hemlock, amabalis fir and Douglas-fir trees, stands the Leaning Tower Cedar, a cedar approximately three metres wide at its base and probably as old as 1,000 years.  Photo credit: Torrance Coste

In an area of the Walbran Valley dubbed Black Diamond Grove, among monumental cedars, massive Sitka spruce, hemlock, amabalis fir and Douglas-fir trees, stands the Leaning Tower Cedar, a cedar approximately three metres wide at its base and probably as old as 1,000 years.  Photo credit: Torrance Coste

Activists, Sierra Club BC, other environmental groups, tourism operators, municipalities and thousands of citizens have since raised their voice calling on the provincial government to revoke permission to log in this area, add the Castle Grove Area to the protected area and phase out old-growth logging on Vancouver Island. Read our statement.

In December, Teal Jones announced that the company has “no immediate plans to harvest block 4424, nor are there immediate plans to proceed with other cut blocks within ‘the bite’” (the Castle Grove Area is often referred to as the ‘bite’). However, this didn’t stop the company from seeking an injunction until September 2016 to continue old-growth logging in the Walbran Valley while keeping concerned citizens out of the area.

Intact old-growth areas, like the Walbran, are significant because they remain covered by at least 70 per cent “big-tree” old-growth. Due to decades of logging, this is a rarity on Vancouver Island.

Once logged, old-growth is gone forever. These areas serve to defend species diversity, produce and protect clean air and water, and as an important outdoor destination.

Most importantly, old-growth rainforests like those found in the Walbran Valley, are the world’s most efficient carbon sink. These towering trees have the highest carbon storage per hectare on the planet, if they remain intact. Clearcutting them releases enormous amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

A recent Sierra Club BC report revealed that, over the past two decades, B.C.’s forests as a whole have shifted to being net emitters of carbon. This contrasts starkly to their historic role capturing huge amounts of carbon from the atmosphere and is due, in large part, to irresponsible logging practices and poor forest management.

Sierra Club BC is calling for a provincial government action plan to protect and restore B.C.’s forests in light of climate change impacts. Focus should be placed on conservation and restoration of endangered rainforest ecosystems on Vancouver Island and the south coast, which have been found relatively resilient to climate impacts in their intact state. B.C.’s forest industry must shift to harvesting sustainable levels of second growth forest and value-added manufacturing.

A 2015 Sierra Club BC’s mapping analysis shows that only five of 155 landscape units on Vancouver Island and B.C.’s south coast are still covered primarily by “big-tree” old-growth. The Walbran, the most intact old-growth rainforest on Southern Vancouver Island, is the only one of these that remains largely unprotected.

A 2015 Sierra Club BC’s mapping analysis shows that only five of 155 landscape units on Vancouver Island and B.C.’s south coast are still covered primarily by “big-tree” old-growth. The Walbran, the most intact old-growth rainforest on Southern Vancouver Island, is the only one of these that remains largely unprotected.

 

 

 

 

Sierra Club BC calls for government leadership to resolve conflict over Walbran rainforest

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

VICTORIA—Sierra Club BC is extremely concerned about the ongoing absence of government leadership to resolve the conflict over logging in the Walbran valley.

As a result of the B.C. government’s inadequate response to the severity of the concerns expressed over old-growth logging in this valley, the conflict reached a new level last week.

Teal Jones sought and received an injunction (since narrowed by the court) and filed a civil suit targeting environmental activists who have been speaking up to protect endangered rainforest in the Walbran Valley. Teal Jones’ legal hardball tactics are outrageous and deliberate attempts to stifle public debate and limit people’s ability to access public land and engage in legitimate, law-abiding activity.

The company and the provincial government should take the protest and the concerns of thousands of citizens seriously and seek a solution, not legal confrontation.

There is overwhelming public support to fully protect the remaining contiguous old-growth rainforest in the Walbran, the only unprotected area with this level of intactness remaining on Southern Vancouver Island. There is also overwhelming evidence that the Walbran Valley represents a unique opportunity to protect a larger intact old-growth area on Vancouver Island, with very high species habitat and carbon values, in an area with fragile karst features that should be safeguarded.

“Ongoing inaction by the B.C. government regarding the Walbran Valley is putting outstanding ecological values at risk, while compromising our ability to resolve conflict over resource management in a collaborative manner,” said Sierra Club BC’s forest and biodiversity campaigner Mark Worthing.

“Government inaction undermines both environmental and economic interests. People of conscience feel they are not being heard and have been left with nowhere else to turn. It is time for the B.C. government to seek solutions and de-escalate the situation.”

Sierra Club BC is joining other environmental organizations and thousands of citizens who have called on the BC government to:

  1. Rescind the permit for cutblock 4424
  2. Seek lasting protection for the 485 hectare Central Walbran Ancient Forest in a manner that respects First Nations rights and interests; and,
  3. Assist Teal-Jones with discontinuing old-growth logging and transitioning to second-growth forestry.

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Contact:

Mark Worthing

Forests & Biodiversity Campaigner, Sierra Club BC

250-889-3575

 

Featured image by Rachel Grigg

A chance to protect the Walbran

New mapping shows importance of the Walbran for old-growth protection

Sierra Club BC’s mapping analysis shows that only five of 155 landscape units on Vancouver Island and B.C.’s south coast are still covered primarily by “big-tree” old-growth.

The Walbran is the only one of these that remains largely unprotected and the only old-growth rainforest with this level of intactness of Southern Vancouver Island. The B.C. government recently awarded the first of eight logging permits in the unprotected areas. We are calling on the provincial government to revoke permission to log this area immediately.

Intact old-growth areas, like the Walbran, are significant because they remain covered by at least 70 per cent “big-tree” old-growth. Due to decades of logging, this is a rarity on Vancouver Island and the reasons for protecting it are many.

Once logged, old-growth is gone forever. These areas serve to defend species diversity, produce and protect clean air and water, and as an important outdoor destination.

Most importantly, old-growth rainforests like those found in the Walbran Valley, act as the world’s most efficient carbon sink. In fact, these towering trees have the highest carbon storage per hectare on the planet, but they have to remain intact to continue helping us fight climate change. Clearcutting them releases enormous amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

LeaningTowerCedar_Torrance Coste

Leaning Tower Cedar in Walbran Valley. Photo by Torrance Coste

A recent Sierra Club BC report revealed that, over the past two decades, B.C.’s forests as a whole have shifted to being net emitters of carbon. This contrasts starkly to their historic role capturing huge amounts of carbon from the atmosphere and is due, in large part, to irresponsible logging practices and poor forest management.

Sierra Club BC and Wilderness Committee activists explored the area slated for logging in September and found monumental cedars, massive Sitka spruce, hemlock, amabalis fir and Douglas-fir trees.  They named the area Black Diamond Grove for its steep slope. The crown jewel of the Black Diamond Grove is the Leaning Tower Cedar, a cedar approximately three metres wide at its base and probably as old as 1,000 years.

Sierra Club BC is calling for a provincial government action plan to protect and restore B.C.’s forests in light of climate change impacts. Focus should be placed on conservation and restoration of endangered rainforest ecosystems on Vancouver Island and the south coast, which have been found relatively resilient to climate impacts in their intact state. B.C.’s forest industry must shift to harvesting sustainable levels of second growth forest and value-added manufacturing.

Featured Image by Torrance Coste

sierra bc rainforest at risk map oct 15 2015s