The Skagit Valley in southwestern BC contains lush forests and wetlands nestled among the towering Cascade Mountains.
Friday May 10
6:30pm – 9:00pm
Native Sons Hall (360 Cliffe Avenue)
K’ómoks Territory (Courtenay)
Please join Sierra Club BC, the Wilderness Committee and local Comox Valley activists for an evening of presentations on the climate crisis, the state of old-growth and second-growth forests on Vancouver Island and how these two relate to each other, followed by group discussions about how we can build a just and sustainable future in the Valley and across the Island!
Climate change and decades of mismanagement of forests in and around the Comox Valley are and will continue to be major challenges into the future. How can we build interest in meaningful change on both these interconnected issues simultaneously, and with the speed required? How can we do this in a way that benefits everyone and respects the sovereignty of the First Nations in whose territories we live?
These are the questions we want to dive into.
All perspectives are welcome, and we want to issue a challenge that everyone interested taking part in this conversation: try to bring one other person who may not otherwise attend an event like this!
The Wilderness Committee and Sierra Club BC will be on the road during the first two weeks of May, documenting old-growth forests and logging, meeting with First Nations, local governments and communities up and down Vancouver Island.
The meeting will be held in the Lodge Rooms in the lower level of the Native Sons Hall in downtown Courtenay.
**This event is being organized on the unceded territory of the K’ómoks First Nation.
Feature image: Andrew S. Wright
Plan to reduce forest emissions urgently needed
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
January 28, 2019
Victoria—B.C.’s hidden and uncounted forest emissions in 2017 and 2018 will be three times higher than the province’s total officially reported emissions, warns Sierra Club BC.
The environmental organization is calling on the B.C. government to develop a forest emissions report and reduction plan, with immediate steps to reduce emissions from destructive logging, slash burning and wildfires. B.C.’s growing forest carbon losses and steps to reduce them are summarized in the Sierra Club BC report Hidden, ignored and growing: B.C.’s forest carbon emissions.
”It’s bad enough that our official emissions have gone up in five of the last six years, yet our forests are contributing massive uncounted emissions that dwarf the official numbers,” said Jens Wieting, senior forest and climate campaigner with Sierra Club BC. “It’s an invisible crisis that government must stop ignoring and act to reduce.”
The provincial government can begin by ending its practice of burying this data and producing an additional, detailed report on forest carbon emissions.
“Reducing these ‘unofficial’ emissions is now an even greater challenge than reducing our so-called official emissions,” said Wieting. “Nobody will act if these alarming figures remain hidden. We need to acknowledge the crisis first, then take urgent steps to reduce them as much as possible.”
“The growing loss of carbon in our forests shows how severely climate impacts are already damaging the natural life support systems we depend on,” said Wieting. “Turning a blind eye to these massive amounts of carbon pollution allows governments to act as if new pipelines and fracked LNG terminals can be accommodated within climate action plans.”
The massive and growing forest emissions are a result of destructive logging, pine beetle outbreaks and wildfires. B.C.’s forests used to absorb more carbon than they released until the early 2000s when they became a net source of carbon.
The situation has gotten much worse in the last two years. Both the 2017 and 2018 wildfires burned more than 1.2 million hectares of the province, eight times more than the ten year average. B.C.’s 2017 fires caused an estimated 190 million tonnes of CO2 emissions. 2018 will be similar.
According to the latest data, which was quietly released by the B.C. government in December 2018, B.C.’s total emissions were about 62 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2016. Uncounted annual emissions from destructive logging and slash burning were close to 50 million tonnes in the last three years.
Combined with skyrocketing emissions from fires and a reduced ability of damaged forests to sequester carbon, the province must expect more than 200 million tonnes of “uncounted” annual carbon dioxide emissions from B.C.’s forests, once data becomes available for 2017 and 2018.
“B.C.’s forest management is making climate change worse—an alarming situation when our forests should instead be our best ally in the fight against climate change,” said Wieting. “Unless the B.C. government wakes up and takes far-reaching action to strengthen conservation and improve forest management, our provincial forests will continue to contribute to climate change instead of slowing it down. Sharing detailed information to inform forest climate strategies at all levels of government will be a crucial first step.”
To inform meaningful policy, forest emissions data must offer as much detail as possible, with a focus on different regions and ecosystems, forest management and forestry practices. This will require collecting regional data and data on management practices, distinguishing between carbon rich forests and less carbon rich forests, and distinguishing between emissions from destructive practices and selective logging.
Setting reduction targets for forest emissions is difficult. What the government can do is to set and deliver on targets related to actions like protecting forests and changing practices. Examples are targets for protection of carbon rich old-growth, timelines to phase out slash burning, and ensuring all communities at risk of wildfires are fully participating in Fire Smart programs.
Phasing out logging of carbon rich endangered old-growth forest will result in immediate emission reductions, as demonstrated with the Great Bear Rainforests Agreements. Improving management of second-growth forests and moving from destructive practices to careful logging allows for both the production of wood products and an increase in the amount of carbon stored in forests at the same time. This means more jobs and less damage per cubic metre. These steps must be integrated in provincial strategies like CleanBC and the coast revitalization initiative.
The Sierra Club BC report Hidden, ignored and growing: B.C.’s forest carbon emissions can be found at: https://sierraclub.bc.ca/wp-content/uploads/SCBC-Forest-Emissions-Report-Jan-19.pdf
Senior Forest and Climate Campaigner
Sierra Club BC
Guest blog by Sierra Club BC member Frances Litman
Frances Litman is a 2018 City of Victoria Honorary Citizen Award Recipient, 2017 Victoria Leadership Award Winner, 2012 CRD EcoStar Community Leadership Award Winner and founder of the non-profit, CreativelyUnited.org. She wrote this guest piece for us about her inspiration to defend nature in BC and the importance of supporting proportional representation in BC’s referendum this fall.
I jokingly blame Robert Bateman and Sierra Club BC for adding another 40 hours to my already full work week.
I started the non-profit Creatively United for the Planet Society in 2012, shortly after finding myself at a special Sierra Club BC donor recognition event with guest speaker Robert Bateman at the Upland’s home of community patron, Paddy Stewart.
At first, I thought I received the invitation in error. After all, how could a self-employed photographer, like me, be a top donor? I learned that my earnest $50 monthly donation did qualify me as one of Sierra Club BC’s top donors.
The penny really dropped when Robert Bateman asked the group present, “Who is looking after the environment?” He pointed at each of the two dozen people present, myself included, and said “You are!”
Given I was one of the youngest in attendance, I was shocked. I realized action needed to be taken to educate and inspire others to find compassion for the environment to ensure we would all continue to enjoy the natural health and beauty of a functioning ecosystem. With Sierra Club BC and other groups already doing the hero work in our communities, I could see a need for more people to know about these organizations.
CreativelyUnited.org was born of that desire. I love that the word passion is in the word compassion. My compassion for the underdog became my passion project.
I suppose I’ve always related to the underdog having grown up in foster care and mostly alone. My happiest memories are those I experienced in the company of nature, my nearest and dearest friend during the majority of my most impressionable years. And nature, my friend, has been and continues to be very much the underdog given the lack of respect and compassion it has received since these lands were colonized a little more than 150 years ago.
Fortunately the forest and the ocean were never far from my reach as my early attempts to make friends often resulted in me being bullied where I lived in Campbell River from 1968-1970. From my experience there, I have come to see that Indigenous rights, social justice issues and the destruction of our natural world are directly related. The systematic dismantling of families, culture and the environment and a complete lack of compassion and respect for Indigenous values and wisdom has led to the crisis we are now in.
Just think how many decades we’ve been negatively conditioned to see those who care about nature as “treehuggers,” “hippies,” “conspiracists,” “bleeding hearts” and on it goes. It seems compassion has become increasingly more commodified like so many other things.
Fortunately, we are awakening. Part of my personal awakening and my growing compassion for people and planet led to me pouring my heart and soul into supporting those I saw doing the hero work to raise awareness and bring action to important environmental and social justice issues affecting us all.
I recognized that it would take creativity and compassion to help rebrand “environmentalism and prejudice” so that we could move away from anger-based activism to compassionate, caring communities of people who recognize that we are empowered in togetherness, resulting in healthier, happier compassionate communities that benefit everyone.
Given I was maxed on the amount of money I could give to non-profits and charitable organizations, I gave, and continue to give, my time, skills and energy to CreativelyUnited.org where you’ll find fascinating videos, stories, events and resources and learn about the many non-profits and organizations in our community making a difference.
We live in one of the most beautiful places in the world. We are greatly fortunate and privileged to be here.
We can no longer be complacent. It’s our right and our responsibility to create the change we want to see in the world, because we can! Many only dream of doing so.
On this note, having a system of Proportional Representation can really make a tremendous difference. We have a historic opportunity this fall to take part in a referendum that could potentially change this archaic voting system so that every vote counts moving forward.
By doing so, we can actually move toward more compassionate ways of living compared to fossil fuel corporation-led initiatives that are destroying this beautiful land, water, air and democracy, trampling Indigenous rights, and destroying cultures.
By having every vote count, we can elect people who are invested in the greater good of all and show the rest of the country what’s possible. In fact, only the US, Canada and the UK still use the First Past the Post voting system that dates back centuries. It ensured wealth and power remained in the hands of those who already had it. The system was based on the first horse to past the post during a horse race…unreal!
No wonder those with the most money and power are mounting campaigns of fear and confusion. I’ve already seen full page ads and editorials in corporate-bought media…and using names very similar to FairVote Canada, like FairReferendum…ugh!
One compassionate initiative that could arise from having Proportional Representation is the creation of a basic income for all by simply raising the tax rate by a few percentage points for those who can afford it—namely multi-million dollar corporations and the super wealthy.
For example, it’s been said that if the wealth of the 12 richest people in the world was shared equally among the 7.8 billion people in this world, that everyone would be a millionaire.
Just think how that could change everything! That’s compassion in action.
Had we had Proportional Representation in place federally as Trudeau promised us, I can assure you that we, the taxpayers, would not have Site C and pipelines to pay for. Initiatives like a basic income for all would be possible if we weren’t subsidizing rich oil companies. Real jobs could be created in giving real power to the people through solar installations on every building, with affordable carbon-free power from the sun.
If we want to regain control of our governments in the interest of what’s best for people and planet, tell your friends and neighbours, get involved with non-profits like FairVote BC and be sure to vote YES to Proportional Representation. Anything is better than the current archaic system we have.
The Dalai Lama has shared that we won’t have peace in the world until women and girls are treated equally. It makes sense, when we stop and think about this.
We can break the cycle of submission and suppression by voting not only with our dollars in how and where we spend our money, but in electing governments that truly share the power proportionally.
We are currently using up five times our share of planetary resources in this region, which is not very compassionate. However, solutions exist!
Using the power of compassion, prayer and/or meditation and lending your support to non-profits and grassroot organizations like FairVoteBC and Sierra Club BC in whatever way you can makes a positive difference.
I invite you to live with gratitude and compassion for every moment in the spirit of a compassionate one planet community.
Feature image by Frances Litman. www.FrancesLitman.com
*This article was published in the Island Parent Family Summer Guide 2018
By Communications Specialist Summer Goulden
Paradise is defined as a place of extreme beauty, delight, or happiness. Its alternate definition? Vancouver Island.
This island is an incredible place to be any time of the year, but it’s particularly special in the summer months. With so much to do and see, there’s a reason people who travel all over the world still say it’s the most beautiful place on earth.
The summer is also a great time to get kids outside and exploring! Just because school is out doesn’t mean the learning has to stop. Spending time outside gives kids the chance to create memories and build roots in their community, helping them develop a sense of stewardship for the places we call home, and all the creatures we share it with.
Through building relationships with other people spending time outdoors, exploring the vast array of ecosystems the island has to offer, and connecting with all sorts of wildlife, children learn through their experiences why we love this place so much, and why we fight so hard to protect it.
Fostering a love and respect for nature at a young age helps us raise the leaders we so desperately need as we look toward the future. We protect what we love, and we love what we know.
Parents and guardians have a significant role to play in exposing children to the magic and wonders of the natural world. It’s not always about teaching with words. We learn some of our most valuable lessons through experiences.
So where do we find these experiences?
It seems like everything is broken down into lists these days, like the ‘The Top 5 Beaches to See’ or ‘The 10 Best Camping Spots.’ But Vancouver Island is a big place, and you can find magic wherever you go -you just have to get out there. It’s not about finding the ‘perfect’ place, it’s about the experiences you have there and the memories you create. You could travel to every place on your list and still have a more impactful experience at your local playground or in your own backyard. You never know!
One of my favourite experiences on Vancouver Island was completely unexpected, and I still remember the day clearly even though it was many years ago. I was sitting on the beach in the pouring rain at Devonian Regional Park in Metchosin when a pod of orcas surfaced right in front of me. They were so close to the shore it seemed like they must be touching the ocean floor.
I was so elated it brought tears to my eyes and I couldn’t help but shout out in excitement…and then I saw it: the tiny dorsal fin of one of the pod’s newest members, playfully surfacing and diving while never straying too far from the rest of the pod. I felt such a profound love and connection to the island and all its inhabitants in that moment, and I knew I would do whatever it takes to protect them.
Vancouver Island is home to many endangered living things such as the southern resident orca whales, the peregrine falcon, and the entire Garry oak ecosystem. Children are now growing up in a time when things are changing at an unprecedented rate, but this doesn’t mean it’s too late to make impactful changes. Take a look at the sea otter, for example. They almost went extinct in the early 1900s, but over the past 50 years, their population has grown to roughly 3,000 members!
In my experience, it’s easier to show someone why they should care about something than to tell them. It’s also easier to highlight the positive things than to focus on the negative. How do we communicate to our kids about climate change? How do we talk about ocean acidity, or deforestation, or declining species populations?
We take them to explore tide pools and all the creatures that call them home. We go for walks in the forest and marvel at all the species that live together in harmony. We identify as many species as we can as we walk around our communities. Through building relationships with animals and the natural world, we develop a sense of belonging, and with it a sense of protection for these unique, beautiful, interconnected bionetworks.
So forget about planning the perfect day or adventure and just get outside! You never know what’s out there, waiting to be discovered.
Feature image by Lynn M.
More action needed for old-growth rainforest ecosystems and species in race against time
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
February 28, 2018
Sierra Club BC welcomes increased protection for the northern goshawk and marbled murrelet announced by the B.C. government yesterday. But implementation of the conservation steps for these old-growth dependent species will take too long and will not be sufficient to halt the ecological degradation of coastal old-growth rainforest ecosystems on Vancouver Island and the south coast.
According to the government press release, the proposed implementation plans will set aside about 70,000 hectares of habitat suitable for the marbled murrelet and more than 30,000 hectares of breeding areas for goshawk in the next five to seven years along the B.C. coast.
“Marbled murrelets are remarkable seabirds that nest only on the branches of old-growth trees,” said Jens Wieting, senior forest and climate campaigner with Sierra Club BC. “We welcome the BC government’s announcement of increased protection, however we are concerned that the proposed process will result in ‘talk and log.’ Without interim protection for critical hotspot areas, suitable habitat will be logged and it will be harder for these iconic birds to find sufficient nesting areas.”
Sierra Club BC data shows 88,000 hectares of old-growth and 238,000 hectares of second-growth were logged between 2006 and 2016 on public and private lands on Vancouver Island alone. This included a very significant portion of old-growth and older second-growth forest that would have been considered suitable habitat for the two bird species.
A 2016 Sierra Club BC analysis revealed that almost half of the landscape units on Vancouver Island and the South Coast now have less than 30 per cent of productive old-growth remaining. Experts consider 30 per cent by landscape unit the threshold for ‘high ecological risk’ of loss of species. Landscape units are areas of land used for long-term forest planning, usually 50,000 to 100,000 hectares.
“The science and our mapping reveals that these threatened birds are losing their nesting habitat at a shocking rate,” said Wieting. “The BC government has made an important step in the right direction, but still needs to identify interim protection measures for critical habitat in remaining intact old-growth areas before further fragmentation occurs.”
With climate change exerting additional pressure, species dependent on old-growth are experiencing compounding stresses and are threatened with extirpation or extinction.
In some areas such as Eastern Vancouver Island the remaining percentage of habitat is now reduced to a level where even setting aside all of the remaining habitat in the area is unlikely to allow recovery of healthy populations. Thus in addition to old-growth protection, species recovery also depends on restoring old-growth characteristics in older second-growth forests.
The federal government’s 2018 budget included $1.3 billion for increased protection of terrestrial and marine ecosystem for the next three years. This represents a generational opportunity to seek partnerships between provincial, federal and Indigenous governments to increase protection for B.C.’s endangered coastal and inland old-growth ecosystems and the species that depend on them. This can be done in a way that respects Indigenous governance and supports local communities, such as the Indigenous-led land use planning in Clayoquot Sound.
Forest and Climate Campaigner
Sierra Club BC