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Twenty-five international environmental organizations call for urgent action for Vancouver Island’s rainforest and communities

Destruction of the Island’s original old-growth rainforest is occurring three times faster than primary forest loss in tropical rainforests

April 2017

Twenty-five international environmental organizations are calling for immediate action to protect and restore Vancouver Island’s endangered old-growth rainforest and its species diversity, carbon storage and benefits for a diverse economy including forestry, tourism and wild salmon in indigenous and non-indigenous communities on Canada’s west coast.

The call for action is an initiative of Sierra Club BC. “We are concerned that the BC government is not taking our global responsibility for Vancouver Island’s endangered rainforest seriously. Temperate rainforest ecosystems only exist on a miniscule portion of the planet but we are logging the original primary island rainforest three times faster than tropical rainforest is being destroyed,” said Jens Wieting, forest and climate campaigner with Sierra Club BC.

Globally, the loss of primary forests – characterized by ecological processes largely undisturbed by human activity – is threatening species, carbon storage and environmental services. In some countries this is primarily in the form of deforestation; in other countries such as Canada, this is primarily through the replacement of rich ancient forests with even-aged young forest. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, tropical countries showed an overall decline of 10 percent of their primary forest in the last 25 years (from 1990 to 2015).

Extensive clearcutting on Southern Vancouver Island threatens species habitat, carbon storage and communities. Photo by TJ Watt.

Sierra Club BC’s data shows that between 1990 and 2015, Vancouver Island’s primary old-growth forest has declined by 30 per cent. The original extent of old-growth rainforest on Vancouver Island was 2,600,000 hectares, of which an estimated 1,082,000 hectares were remaining by 1990. By 2015 the remaining old-growth was reduced to 748,000 hectares, a decline of 30 percent over the course of just 25 years. Only about 10 percent of the biggest trees remain standing.

The BC government does not share detailed information about the rate at which Vancouver Island’s old-growth rainforest gets logged. Available provincial information is superficial and exaggerates the percentage of remaining old-growth on Vancouver Island by excluding private land and including very poor productivity ecosystems with very small trees.

“Gaps in monitoring and reporting about the health of provincial forest ecosystems play a major role in poor forest management in BC such as overharvesting,” said Wieting. “Sierra Club BC has reported for many years as accurately as possible to fill this gap because the provincial government has not been fulfilling its duty to properly monitor and manage BC’s forests.” Sierra Club BC reports use publicly available forest cover data, filling gaps with Landsat classification, distinguishing the state of coastal old-growth by ecosystems in different regions, and comparing to the historic extent.

The call for action is also supported by a number of organizations from tropical rainforest countries. One of these organizations is SINFONÍA TRÓPICO in Colombia.

“A few days ago a mud avalanche killed more than 300 people in Putumayo, Colombia. These catastrophes are a consequence of climate impacts that have been intensifying in past years, paired with deforestation and forest degradation. Trees that helped avoid landslides were cut,”said Juan Pablo Castro with SINFONÍA TRÓPICO. “There is a grave disconnect between humans and nature that we can no longer ignore. Countries such as Colombia are under international pressure to protect the world’s tropical rainforests. We have similar expectations of countries in the Northern hemisphere such as Canada. Everyone needs to do their part. Protecting old-growth temperate rainforests that are threatened by clear-cuts like those on Vancouver Island is of paramount importance. Please protect them!”

The 2016 Great Bear Rainforest Agreements by First Nations governments and the BC 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 gave 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. Remaining intact rainforest areas imminently threatened by logging such as the Central Walbran and East Creek need immediate conservation measures.

New protected areas and conservation measures for Vancouver Island must respect First Nations rights and interests, enable a transition to sustainable second-growth forestry and support diverse economic activities such as tourism and reduce carbon emissions.

The hectare numbers for remaining old-growth on Vancouver Island given in the press release include high, medium and poor productivity rainforest ecosystems (not very poor).

The percentage of remaining high and medium productivity old-growth ecosystems (without poor) is even smaller because these forests grow bigger trees and are therefore of greater interest for logging. Landscapes with the best growing conditions (High productivity, low altitude (<300m) and without significant slope (<17%)) have less than 10 percent remaining old-growth forests and less than 4 percent of these types of forest are protected from logging.

Find more information on logging rates or the state of the forest on Vancouver Island.

FAO information can be found in the following paper: “Status and trends in global primary forest, protected areas, and areas designated for conservation of biodiversity from the Global Forest Resources Assessment 2015.”

Learn more about our efforts to protect Vancouver Island’s endangered coastal rainforests.

Please donate today to help Sierra Club BC conserve and defend BC’s wild places and species.

Twenty-five international environmental organizations call for urgent action for Vancouver Island’s rainforest and communities

Destruction of the Island’s original old-growth rainforest is occurring three times faster than primary forest loss in tropical rainforests

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 10, 2017

Twenty-five international environmental organizations are calling for immediate action to protect and restore Vancouver Island’s endangered old-growth rainforest and its species diversity, carbon storage and benefits for a diverse economy including forestry, tourism and wild salmon in indigenous and non-indigenous communities on Canada’s west coast.

The call for action is an initiative of Sierra Club BC. “We are concerned that the BC government is not taking our global responsibility for Vancouver Island’s endangered rainforest seriously. Temperate rainforest ecosystems only exist on a miniscule portion of the planet but we are logging the original primary island rainforest three times faster than tropical rainforest is being destroyed,” said Jens Wieting, forest and climate campaigner with Sierra Club BC.

Globally, the loss of primary forests – characterized by ecological processes largely undisturbed by human activity – is threatening species, carbon storage and environmental services. In some countries this is primarily in the form of deforestation; in other countries such as Canada, this is primarily through the replacement of rich ancient forests with even-aged young forest. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, tropical countries showed an overall decline of 10 percent of their primary forest in the last 25 years (from 1990 to 2015).

Sierra Club BC’s data shows that between 1990 and 2015, Vancouver Island’s primary old-growth forest has declined by 30 per cent. The original extent of old-growth rainforest on Vancouver Island was 2,872,000 hectares, of which an estimated 1,082,000 hectares were remaining by 1990. By 2015 the remaining old-growth was reduced to 748,000 hectares, a decline of 30 percent over the course of just 25 years. Only about 10 percent of the biggest trees remain standing.

The BC government does not share detailed information about the rate at which Vancouver Island’s old-growth rainforest gets logged. Available provincial information is superficial and exaggerates the percentage of remaining old-growth on Vancouver Island by excluding private land and including very poor productivity ecosystems with very small trees.

“Gaps in monitoring and reporting about the health of provincial forest ecosystems play a major role in poor forest management in BC such as overharvesting,” said Wieting. “Sierra Club BC has reported for many years as accurately as possible to fill this gap because the provincial government has not been fulfilling its duty to properly monitor and manage BC’s forests.” Sierra Club BC reports use publicly available forest cover data, filling gaps with Landsat classification, distinguishing the state of coastal old-growth by ecosystems in different regions, and comparing to the historic extent.

The call for action is also supported by a number of organizations from tropical rainforest countries. One of these organizations is SINFONÍA TRÓPICO in Colombia.

“A few days ago a mud avalanche killed more than 300 people in Putumayo, Colombia. These catastrophes are a consequence of climate impacts that have been intensifying in past years, paired with deforestation and forest degradation. Trees that helped avoid landslides were cut,”said Juan Pablo Castro with SINFONÍA TRÓPICO. “There is a grave disconnect between humans and nature that we can no longer ignore. Countries such as Colombia are under international pressure to protect the world’s tropical rainforests. We have similar expectations of countries in the Northern hemisphere such as Canada. Everyone needs to do their part. Protecting old-growth temperate rainforests that are threatened by clear-cuts like those on Vancouver Island is of paramount importance. Please protect them!”

The 2016 Great Bear Rainforest Agreements by First Nations governments and the BC 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 gave 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. Remaining intact rainforest areas imminently threatened by logging such as the Central Walbran and East Creek need immediate conservation measures.

New protected areas and conservation measures for Vancouver Island must respect First Nations rights and interests, enable a transition to sustainable second-growth forestry and support diverse economic activities such as tourism and reduce carbon emissions.

-30-

Contact:
Jens Wieting
Forests and Climate Campaigner
Sierra Club BC
Phone 604-354 5312

East Creek investigation finds clearcutting rare intact old-growth on Vancouver Island in compliance with laws, highlighting B.C. government failure to protect endangered rainforest

Investigation also finds company in non-compliance with making information public

March 30, 2017

The BC government’s Forest Practices Board (FPB) released its findings today regarding Sierra Club BC’s May 2016 complaint about Lemare Lake Logging Ltd. logging practices in the East Creek area. East Creek is located adjacent to the Mquqᵂin – Brooks Peninsula Provincial Park, in Kwakwaka’wakw territory and forms part of the largest remaining contiguous ancient rainforest on northern Vancouver Island.

East Creek logging. Photo by TJ Watt.

Sierra Club BC visited East Creek in the fall of 2015 and documented the devastation of ancient rainforest, including the use of blasting charges, in an area known as important habitat for salmon, marbled murrelet and northern goshawk and important First Nations cultural values, leading to the complaint and investigation.

“The scope and scale of the ancient rainforest destruction in this incredible watershed is unimaginable. They were logging more than one Cathedral Grove in the last two years alone,” said Mark Worthing, Sierra Club BC’s Forests & Biodiversity Campaigner. “The liquidation of East Creek’s ancient rainforest is being permitted for government revenue in form of stumpage fees between $0.33 and $1.33 per cubic meter. This is a terribly short-sighted decision.”

The FPB investigation considered two questions: whether the licensee complied with the Forest Range Practices Act (FRPA) and the Vancouver Island Land Use Plan (VILUP) and whether the licensee provided the complainant with reasonable access to site plans (SPs). The Board concluded that the licensee complied with FRPA and VILUP while conducting its operations. On the second question, the Board concluded that the licensee did not provide the complainant with reasonable access to SPs “on request at any reasonable time” as required by FRPA.

Old-growth tree being exploded at Lemare Lake operations.

“British Columbians have the right to know what’s happening in the forests around us, yet it took us six months to access the information the public is legally entitled to. This makes it impossible for the public to document ecological and cultural values that could be at risk as a result of proposed logging. We’ll be waiting to see what action the government takes to respond to this violation of FRPA,” said Worthing.

Sierra Club BC is very concerned but not surprised about the conclusion of the FPB that East Creek logging is in compliance with FRPA and VILUP. “The East Creek investigation confirms what we feared: while blasting roads and clearcutting approximately 1,000 hectares of the last intact old-growth rainforest on Northern Vancouver Island in the last 10 years is inconsistent with good forest management practices, it is consistent with BC’s Forest Range Practices Act and the Vancouver Island Land Use Plan,” said Jens Wieting, Sierra Club BC’s Forest and Climate Campaigner. “Provincial laws and the Vancouver Island land use plan are failing to protect forest integrity and we urgently need additional protection and improved forest management to safeguard the web of life as we know it.”

East Creek is located in the Klaskish landscape unit – the area in light green north of the Protected Brooks Peninsula. It is the only unprotected landscape unit with close to 70 percent remaining productive old-growth rainforest on Northern Vancouver Island.

There is growing support for protecting the remaining endangered old-growth rainforest and shifting to sustainable second-growth forestry on Vancouver Island, including from municipalities, chambers of commerce and a number of First Nations and unions. Sierra Club BC warned in 2016 that a 12 percent increase in the annual old-growth logging rate on the island (recently at 9,000 hectares per year) will lead to an ecological and economic collapse.

The most productive types of rainforest ecosystems, with the biggest trees, unique habitat and tourism values are now in their single digits of remaining old-growth. At the same time second-growth forests are being clearcut at a young age, often at less than 60 or 80 years, allowing no recovery of old-growth characteristics across vast areas on Vancouver Island.

“The East Creek investigation shows everything that is wrong with rainforest conservation and management on Vancouver Island – BC’s forestry regulation has no consideration of how little intact rainforest is left on the island and there is no legal impediment to logging the last old-growth trees outside of protected areas.” said Wieting.

The East Creek investigation makes clear that we have no regulatory framework to protect the last of the last remaining intact coastal temperate rainforest,” said Wieting. “Whoever forms the next government has their work cut out to prevent the unfolding ecological and economic catastrophe on the island. We need a moratorium to safeguard biodiversity hotspots as new protected areas and new conservation tools to set aside critical endangered rainforest stands and habitat aside across the landscape.”

A 2015 Sierra Club BC mapping analysis showed East Creek on the northern island and the Walbran on the southern island as the only two remaining largely intact unprotected landscapes, with a percentage of productive old-growth rainforest close to the threshold indicating low ecological risk (70%). These remaining intact areas are critical ecological stepstones between the Great Bear Rainforest, Clayoquot Sound and Pacific Rim National Park.

Solutions for healthy forests and healthy communities similar to those developed in the Great Bear Rainforest are needed along the entire B.C. coast, not just one part of it. East Creek and the Central Walbran are among the most important examples of intact, unprotected, productive coastal old-growth on Vancouver Island that need immediate action or will be lost forever.

Sierra Club BC supports sustainable, second growth harvesting and local, value-added processing that creates a higher number of jobs per cubic metre, such that we can sustain healthy forest-based communities and local forestry jobs into the future.

Further information on Lemare Lake’s East Creek logging operations:

Covert logging of old-growth on Vancouver Island must be stopped

Timeline of Sierra Club BC attempts to view Lemare Lake Logging’s site plans for its East Creek operations

Richard Boyce short film in East Creek

East Creek investigation finds clearcutting rare intact old-growth on Vancouver Island in compliance with laws, highlighting BC government failure to protect endangered rainforest

Investigation also finds company in non-compliance with making information public

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 30, 2017

VICTORIA—The BC government’s Forest Practices Board (FPB) released its findings today regarding Sierra Club BC’s May 2016 complaint about Lemare Lake Logging Ltd.’s logging practices in the East Creek area.  East Creek is located adjacent to the Mquqᵂin – Brooks Peninsula Provincial Park, in Kwakwaka’wakw territory and forms part of the largest remaining contiguous ancient rainforest on northern Vancouver Island.

Sierra Club BC visited East Creek in the fall of 2015 and documented the devastation of ancient rainforest, including the use of blasting charges, in an area known as important habitat for salmon, marbled murrelet and northern goshawk and important First Nations cultural values, leading to the complaint and investigation.

“The scope and scale of the ancient rainforest destruction in this incredible watershed is unimaginable. They were logging more than one Cathedral Grove in the last two years alone,” said Mark Worthing, Sierra Club BC’s Forests & Biodiversity Campaigner. “The liquidation of East Creek’s ancient rainforest is being permitted for government revenue in form of stumpage fees between $0.33 and $1.33 per cubic metre. This is a terribly short-sighted decision.”

The FPB investigation considered two questions: whether the licensee complied with the Forest Range Practices Act (FRPA) and the Vancouver Island Land Use Plan (VILUP) and whether the licensee provided the complainant with reasonable access to site plans (SPs). The Board concluded that the licensee complied with FRPA and VILUP while conducting its operations. On the second question, the licensee was found to be in non-compliance in not providing the the complainant with reasonable access to SPs “on request at any reasonable time” as required by FRPA.

“British Columbians have the right to know what’s happening in the forests around us, yet it took us six months to access the information the public is legally entitled to. This makes it impossible for the public to document ecological and cultural values that could be at risk as a result of proposed logging. We’ll be waiting to see what action the government takes to respond to this violation of FRPA,” said Worthing.

Sierra Club BC is very concerned but not surprised about the conclusion of the FPB that East Creek logging is in compliance with FRPA and VILUP. “The East Creek investigation confirms what we feared: while blasting roads and clearcutting approximately 1,000 hectares of the last intact old-growth rainforest on Northern Vancouver Island in the last 10 years is inconsistent with good forest management practices, it is consistent with BC’s Forest Range Practices Act and the Vancouver Island Land Use Plan,” said Jens Wieting, Sierra Club BC’s Forest and Climate Campaigner. “Provincial laws and the Vancouver Island land use plan are failing to protect forest integrity and we urgently need additional protection and improved forest management to safeguard the web of life as we know it.”

There is growing support for protecting the remaining endangered old-growth rainforest and shifting to sustainable second-growth forestry on Vancouver Island, including from municipalities, chambers of commerce and a number of First Nations and unions. Sierra Club BC warned in 2016 that a 12 per cent increase in the annual old-growth logging rate on the island (recently at 9,000 hectares per year) will lead to an ecological and economic collapse.

The most productive types of rainforest ecosystems, with the biggest trees, unique habitat and tourism values are now in their single digits of remaining old-growth. At the same time second-growth forests are being clearcut at a young age, often at less than sixty or eighty years, allowing no recovery of old-growth characteristics across vast areas on Vancouver Island.

“The East Creek investigation shows everything that is wrong with rainforest conservation and management on Vancouver Island – BC’s forestry regulation has no consideration of how little intact rainforest is left on the island and there is no legal impediment to logging the last old-growth trees outside of protected areas,” said Wieting.

“The East Creek investigation makes clear that we have no regulatory framework to protect the last of the last remaining intact coastal temperate rainforest,” said Wieting. “Whoever forms the next government has their work cut out to prevent the unfolding ecological and economic catastrophe on the island. We need a moratorium to safeguard biodiversity hotspots as new protected areas and new conservation tools to set aside critical endangered rainforest stands and habitat aside across the landscape.”

Solutions for healthy forests and healthy communities similar to those developed in the Great Bear Rainforest are needed along the entire BC coast, not just one part of it. East Creek and the Central Walbran are among the most important examples of intact, unprotected, productive coastal old-growth on Vancouver Island that need immediate action or will be lost forever.

Sierra Club BC supports sustainable second growth harvesting and local, value-added processing that creates a higher number of jobs per cubic metre, such that we can sustain healthy forest-based communities and local forestry jobs into the future.

-30-

Forest Practices Board Report: Forest Planning and Practices at East Creek

Contact:

Jens Wieting

Forests and Climate Campaigner

Sierra Club BC

(604)354-5312

 

Mark Worthing

Forests and Biodiversity Campaigner

Sierra Club BC

(250)386-5255 ext. 257

 

Further information on Lemare Lake’s East Creek logging operations:

Covert logging of old-growth on Vancouver Island must be stopped

Timeline of Sierra Club BC attempts to view Lemare Lake Logging’s site plans for its East Creek operations

Richard Boyce short film in East Creek

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.

—30—

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.