More than a quarter million people from around the world call on the BC government to save old-growth forests
They are joined by 39 NGOs from Asia, Africa, South and North America, Europe and Australia.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
October 13, 2021
Unceded xʷməθkʷəy̓əm, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh and səlilwətaɬ territories (VANCOUVER, BC) — More than 260,000 people from nearly every country in the world have signed a petition calling on the B.C. government to “stop the felling of ancient giants and protect British Columbia’s temperate old-growth forests.”
The petition was started by the Germany-based environmental organization Rainforest Rescue with support from Sierra Club BC, and was signed by residents of Europe, Canada, the U.S., Mexico, Russia, Indonesia, the Philippines, India, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Argentina, Columbia, Chile, Peru, Ecuador and almost all other countries in the world.
In addition to the petition, the B.C. government received an open letter today that is co-signed by Sierra Club BC, Rainforest Rescue and 37 NGOs from Asia, Africa, South and North America, Europe and Australia, just weeks ahead of COP26, the crucial UN climate conference kicking off in Glasgow on October 31, 2021.
The letter (which can be found here or at the bottom of this page) calls on the provincial government to keep its promise and safeguard the last remaining old-growth forests in B.C., “which are among the most endangered on the planet.”
“Deforestation and environmental destruction are a global catastrophe that fuels the climate crisis and accelerates the sixth mass extinction of species. Unfortunately, the B.C. government ignores its global responsibility to protect some of the last old-growth forests in the Western hemisphere,” said Mathias Rittgerott, a spokesperson with Rainforest Rescue.
“In many parts of the world, particularly in the global south, Indigenous Peoples are working tirelessly to protect the world’s forests. Many forest defenders risk their life, and some even lose their life, for this greater good. Meanwhile, the B.C. government bows to the short-term economic interests of a few companies. We can’t fight the climate crisis and mass extinction without protecting the world’s forests. B.C. must do its share—or we will all fail,” added Rittgerott.
“The ravaging of the world’s remaining forest ecosystems irrespective of their location is a global pandemic that calls for localized global action across nations,” said Dr. Martins Egot, Executive Director of Development Concern in Nigeria.
Mapping and analysis by independent B.C. scientists shows that after decades of industrial clearcutting only a small fraction of old-growth forests with big trees and irrecoverable ecological, cultural and carbon values remains standing in B.C. and even less is protected from logging.
The B.C. government shared its Old-Growth Panel report and Premier John Horgan committed to implementing all of the panel’s recommendations in the fall of 2020. The panel called on the province to work with Indigenous governments to transform forest management within three years, including immediate action to protect at-risk old-growth forests and a paradigm shift away from a focus on timber value towards safeguarding biodiversity of all forests in B.C.
One year later, most at-risk forests in B.C. remain open to logging and despite repeated remarks from the provincial government about an end-of-summer announcement, concerned communities are still waiting for interim protection for all endangered old-growth. In the meantime, police violence and arrests continued on Southern Vancouver Island where arrests of forest defenders surpassed 1,100, making it Canada’s biggest-ever act of civil disobedience.
“There are few places in the world that could do so much to save old-growth forests, uphold the rights of Indigenous People, save biodiversity and slow down the climate crisis all at the same time. International petitions and letters are a powerful reminder that the world is watching the old-growth emergency in British Columbia, said Jens Wieting, Senior Forest and Climate Campaigner at Sierra Club BC. “The final weeks before the UN climate conference in Glasgow are a crucial time for the B.C. government to change course, show leadership and inspire other parts of the world to do the same.”
- For more background read SCBC’s recent media release and NGO report card on B.C.’s implementation of the old-growth panel recommendations
- Download the open letter from 39 International NGOs
- Read the petition signed by 260,000 people from around the world
For media inquiries, please contact:
Jens Wieting, Senior Forest and Climate Campaigner, Sierra Club BC
604-354 5312, firstname.lastname@example.org
Mathias Rittgerott, Rainforest Rescue (based in Montreal, QC)
Dr. Martins Egot, Executive Director, Development Concern (based in Nigeria)
Can be contacted via Rainforest Rescue
Open Letter to the BC Government:
October 13, 2021
Dear Premier Horgan,
We the undersigned—39 non-government organizations from Asia, Africa, South- and North
America, Europe and Australia—are writing you together with more than a quarter million
people from around the world to appeal to the government of British Columbia to keep your
promise and safeguard the threatened old-growth forests of this province, which are among
the most endangered of the planet.
The globally rare old-growth forests in B.C., as well as the biodiversity and Indigenous
knowledge and cultures linked to them, do not exist anywhere else and are irreplaceable. When
these forests are cut, they will not grow back to the same grandeur and diversity in our
Shockingly, after decades of industrial clearcutting, old-growth forests with big trees have been
reduced to a small fraction of their original extent in this province, and the majority of what
remains standing is still without protection. Your government continues to allow some of the
tallest trees in the world to be cut down for short-term profit.
We are appalled by the images of police violence against Indigenous youth and other peaceful
land defenders and the reports about hundreds of people being arrested to enable clearcutting
of ancient forests for short-term profit in B.C.
In many countries, especially in the global south, Indigenous Peoples, civil society and
governments are working tirelessly to protect the world’s forests which are home to millions of
people, indispensable allies in the fight against the climate crisis, and the source of enormous
biodiversity. Many forest defenders risk their life for this greater good, and some even lose
Canada, as a country with one of the largest forest areas on Earth, has a responsibility to lead
the fight to save forests. This is especially true since Canada’s population has contributed more
to the climate crisis than many other countries. Within Canada, no other province other than
B.C. could do more to protect rare, carbon-rich old-growth forests. To date, Canada and B.C. are
failing to live up to their responsibilities, because of companies based in your country and
province are involved in reckless resource extraction and environmental destruction—at home
and around the globe.
Protecting the remaining ancient forests in B.C. matters to people around the world and for the
future of all life on Earth. We cannot address the interlinked climate, biodiversity and social
justice crises without protecting and restoring them.
Despite your promise to take short-term action for endangered old-growth forests, clearcutting
of some of the tallest trees in the world continues unabated. It is time for your government to
lead on old-growth protection and to inspire other countries to do the same.
In light of the escalating climate and biodiversity emergencies around the world, including in
your province, we are calling on you to immediately defer logging of all at-risk old-growth
forests and implement long-term conservation solutions that respect the rights of Indigenous
Peoples, as promised by your government.
Ancient Forest Alliance, Canada, Ian Illuminato, Forest Campaigner
ARA / denkhausbremen, Germany, Wolfgang Kuhlmann, Director
Borneo Orangutan Survival – BOS Deutschland, Germany, Daniel Merdes, CEO
Both Ends, Netherlands, Paul Wolvekamp, Senior policy advisor
CALG – Coalition against land grabbing, Philippines, Sisang Dela Cruz, Assistant to the Executive
Congo Basin Conservation Society (CBCS), DRC, Josue Aruna, Executive Director
Devcon – Development Concern, Nigeria, Martins Egot, Executive Director
Earth Island Institute, Canada, Dominick DellaSala, Chief Scientist
Ecodevelop, Germany, Hans Christian Offer, Forest ecologist
Fern, EU / Belgium, Julia Christian, Campaigner
FLIGHT – Protecting Indonesia’s Birds, Indonesia, Marison Guciano, Executive Director
Friends of the Earth United States, USA, Jeff Conant, S. International Forest Program Manager
Global Justice Ecology Project, USA, Anne Petermann, Executive Director
Jatam – Mining Advocacy Network, Indonesia, Moh. Taufik, Bachelor of Law
Kené Instituto de Estudios Forestales y Ambientales, Peru, Lucila Pautrat Oyarzún, President
National Assoc. of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE), Uganda, Frank Muramuzi, Executive
NOAH Friends of the Earth Denmark, Denmark, Mads Kjærgaard Lange, secretary
Northern Confluence Initiative, Canada, Nikki Skuce, Director
Oakland Institute, USA, Frederic Mousseau, Policy Director
Partnership for Policy Integrity, USA, Mary S. Booth, Director
Perkumpulan Hijau, Indonesia, Feri Irawan, Direktor
Quercus – ANCN, Portugal, Alexandra Azevedo, President
Rainforest Rescue, Australia, Branden Barber, CEO
Rainforest Resource and Development Centre (RRDC), Nigeria, Odey Oyama, Executive Director
Réseau CREF, DRC, François Biloko, Secrétaire Général
Rettet den Regenwald, Germany, Marianne Klute, Chairwoman
Robin Wood, Germany, Jana Ballenthien, Forest Campainer
SADIA, Malaysia, Matek Geramn, Indigenous rights defender
Save Estonia’s Forests, Estonia, Liina Steinberg, Member of board
Save Virunga, Netherlands/DRC, Tina Lain, Co-founder
Sierra Club British Columbia, Canada, Jens Wieting, Senior Forest Campaigner
The Gaia Foundation, UK, Carlotta Byrne, Earth Jurisprudence Program Coordinator
WALHI NTT – Eastern Sunda Islands, Indonesia, Umbu Wulang, Direktor
WALHI Papua, Indonesia, Aiesh Rumbekwan, Director
WATER – Wise Administration of Terrestrial Environment and Resources, Nigeria, Chief Edwin
Ogar, Program coordinator
West Kootenay EcoSociety, Canada, Kendra Norwood, Conservation Director
Wild Chimpanzee Foundation (WCF), Germany/Liberia, Prof. Christophe Boesch, Founder and
Wilderness Committee, Canada, Torrance Coste, National Campaign Director
Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative (Y2Y), Canada/USA, Candace Batycki, Program Director, BC and Yukon