FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 11, 2020
Sierra Club BC and a hereditary leader from the Kwagu’ł nation react to the independent old-growth panel report and initial steps being taken by the B.C. government to protect some of province’s last remaining old–growth forest and a number of big trees.
Statement by Sierra Club BC senior forest and climate campaigner Jens Wieting:
“Today is an important day. Today’s announcement to defer logging in some endangered old-growth forests is a good step for the health and wellbeing of families in B.C. We are thrilled to see logging deferrals for the unprotected rainforests in Clayoquot Sound and a number of other critical areas, in support of Indigenous-led conservation solutions. Providing an opportunity to save the last of the old-growth forests is the right thing to do for our health, long-term jobs and the web of life.”
“Our initial assessment is that the independent old-growth panel’s recommendations offer a blueprint to safeguard B.C.’s endangered old-growth forests within three years. While we welcome these first steps, what’s missing from today’s announcement is a commitment to implement all of the report’s recommendations with full funding. We look forward to engaging with the province and Indigenous governments to make the full recommendations a reality.”
David Knox, Walas Numgwis, Kwagu’ł, offered this reaction:
“Kwakwa̱ka̱’wakw people have watched successive governments and successive logging companies exploit our old–growth forests, degrade our wild salmon rivers and pay little credence to our culture or how we value our resources. Not a single stick of old–growth should have left Kwagu’ł territory in the last ten years. Yet we’ve seen heavy industrial exploitation of the ancient forests and given only crumbs in return. My hope is that we come together to create a better relationship with the forest. The work starts now and we’re ready.”
Sierra Club BC coastal projects lead Mark Worthing’s reaction:
“Government policies come and go with the political seasons, but it’s the land that ultimately keeps score. This is the first meaningful step we’ve seen that the current B.C. government is starting to recognize the value of ancient endangered forests. I remain hungry to see the on-the-ground outcomes in the sacred forests that are required for culture, climate and wildlife. The government has charted a path, but now they need to walk it.”
“I raise my hands to the good work done amongst the Indigenous nations who have deferred logging destruction in their territories.”
Statement by Sierra Club BC campaigns director Caitlyn Vernon:
“Big old-growth trees support our health and the safety of our communities; they provide all kinds of cultural and economic benefits including tourism jobs and clean drinking water. Pumping the brakes on logging some of the last old-growth to consider our options and work together to build back better can only be a good thing.”
“We will be looking to see government investment in the transition to truly sustainable second-growth forestry based around local, value-added manufacturing, so that our kids can grow up in a province that had the vision and foresight to save the last big trees.”
Regarding next steps, Vernon added, “It will be key to ensure discussions of the socio-economic implications of the report’s recommendations include the benefits of protecting the last of the big old trees, including their long-term value for culture and tourism, the value of their ecological services like clean drinking water, a stable climate and salmon habitat, and their services defending communities from worsening climate impacts like wildfires and flooding – impacts that could be mitigated by conserving intact forests.”
Polling commissioned by Sierra Club BC in the fall of 2019 showed over 90% of British Columbians support the B.C. government to take action to protect endangered old growth forests. Ongoing blockades of logging roads and hunger strikes this summer illustrate the extent of concern.
Sierra Club BC will be digging into the details of today’s announcement and the broader report recommendations in the context of the ecological crisis facing B.C.’s forests, to assess how far the interim measures announced today go towards addressing the ongoing threat of logging faced by the rest of the last 3% of old-growth forests with very big trees that are not included in today’s deferrals, and what additional steps are needed.
Read the province’s announcement and full report here.
Senior Forest and Climate Campaigner, Sierra Club BC
Coastal Projects Lead, Sierra Club BC
David Knox, Walas Numgwis