On June 6, concerned local residents demonstrated outside seventeen MLA offices and demanded immediate action to protect BC forests.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
June 18, 2019
Sierra Club BC released the following statement from Climate and Conservation Campaigner Mark Worthing in response to the federal government’s decision to approve the Trans Mountain pipeline and tankers project:
“Saying yes to the Trans Mountain pipeline and tankers project is saying yes to more record-breaking wildfire destruction, droughts, rising sea levels and acidifying oceans. We are in a climate emergency. We must act like we are. We say yes to keeping rivers wild and full of salmon for food and ecosystems. We say yes to clean water. We say yes to a truly sustainable economy.
“We say yes to honouring Indigenous governance. The federal government’s understanding of what represents genuine consultation and consent must change.
“Further legal challenges are inevitable. We will pull together to support those legal challenges as they emerge.
“The Trudeau government boxed itself into a corner when it panicked and purchased the pipeline. Taxpayers are now on the hook for $4.5 billion to buy it and an additional $7.4 billion for construction.
“It’s costing taxpayers more than $12 billion to have Alberta, Ontario, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and New Brunswick reject even modest climate action. We are not on track to meet our Paris climate targets.
“We will not stop standing up for wild salmon and clean water by opposing the Trans Mountain pipeline and tankers project. We will not stop working to avert climate breakdown and ecological collapse, and the economic collapse that will follow. We will not stop fighting for a livable future for our young people.
“Expanding fossil fuel infrastructure is a violent act towards current and future generations. It has to stop. Now.”
Climate and Conservation Campaigner
Sierra Club BC calls for immediate steps to reduce the danger of worsening droughts, floods and fire caused by forest destruction and climate breakdown
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
June 13, 2019
Sierra Club BC and forest expert Herb Hammond are calling on the B.C. government to declare a forest and climate emergency and take immediate action to protect and restore resilient forests in order to reduce the growing risk of unmanageable climate impacts for ecosystems and communities.
“We are in a climate emergency and it’s time the B.C. government acted like it. Defending our communities from floods and fires requires immediate action to reduce climate pollution and save intact forests,” said Jens Wieting, senior forest and climate campaigner with Sierra Club BC.
“Trees are essential for clean air and water, long term forestry jobs, storing carbon and protecting communities from floods and disasters,” said Wieting. “As the climate shifts into uncharted territory, only intact forests can buffer the impacts—not clearcuts, young forests and tree plantations. We need action today because in ten or twenty years we’ll need these resilient forests for survival.”
Destructive industrial logging is one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the province, causing forests to shift from carbon sinks to carbon pollution sources as global heating continues. Sierra Club BC estimates that B.C.’s uncounted forest emissions from poor forest management and climate impacts are more than three times higher than officially reported provincial emissions.
“The climate emergency means we must increase protection of resilient forests like old-growth forests and intact natural forests across the province. In some parts of the forest landscape, cautious intervention like thinning to build resiliency to the climate disruption and controlled burns will be necessary. Clearcutting is never the right answer—we have to reduce our losses, not make them worse,” said forester and ecologist Herb Hammond.
Meteorologists warned at the end of May that Western Canada should be ready for a particularly hot and dry summer, after an abnormally dry spring in many regions.
Hundreds of jurisdictions in more than a dozen countries have already declared climate emergencies. Canada—and in particular B.C.—face growing risks and have a critical responsibility to declare a forest and climate emergency. No other country has more trees per person than Canada.
In October 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projected that without unprecedented action, by 2040 the world will heat by about 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial times. As a consequence of warming of just one degree, water vapour in the atmosphere has already increased by seven per cent and changes in the jet stream have resulted in weather patterns becoming more stationary, causing longer and more extreme flooding and droughts.
These trends will only stop once the world economy has completely decarbonized, but can be significantly slowed by protecting intact natural forests, particularly old forests, that are large enough to moderate local climates and stave off the worst impacts of the climate disruption. B.C. communities are at increasing risk of climate impacts made worse by large-scale clearcutting of intact forests and destructive practices like slash burning that add to carbon emissions, all of which are causing cumulative damages in many Indigenous territories.
Moving away from destructive practices must be part of provincial climate action to increase the amount of carbon stored in forests. This will translate into more jobs and less ecosystem damage per cubic metre of wood. Solutions like increased protection and improved forest management must fully respect the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).
Sierra Club BC is calling for B.C. to declare a forest and climate emergency, recognizing the role that intact forests play in both helping slow climate change and helping defend the safety and security of B.C. communities. Two immediate first steps for the B.C. government are to:
- Develop and implement an immediate “climate impact test” for logging plans. Clearcuts currently in preparation or carried out across B.C. will increase emissions and exacerbate the climate emergency. Every hectare of newly clearcut forest leaves communities more vulnerable to flooding, wildfires and loss of clean water. Logging plans must be adjusted or cancelled as needed to address the climate emergency.
- Overhaul B.C.’s legislation and regulations governing forestry. The review currently underway needs to be significantly expanded to correct the existing corporate control of public forests. The Forest Range and Practices Act (FRPA) and associated legislation and policy need a paradigm shift from a timber-based approach to a principled ecosystem-based approach to save and restore the carbon storage function and life support systems provided by B.C.’s forests, give species and ecosystems a chance to adapt to the changing climate, and reduce deadly dangers for communities.
For more information:
Sierra Club BC photos of recent clearcuts on Vancouver Island: https://www.flickr.com/photos/94279740@N07/sets/72157698359993961
Sierra Club BC report Hidden, ignored and growing: B.C.’s forest carbon emissions:
Dr. Jim Pojar report Forestry and Carbon in B.C.:
Senior Forest and Climate Campaigner
Sierra Club BC
Forester and Ecologist
(Interviews can be arranged through Sierra Club BC)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
June 6, 2019
Concerned local residents demonstrated today outside seventeen MLA and government offices, demanding science-based protection of B.C.’s old-growth forests, improved forest management and support for First Nations that seek to protect more forest.
Sierra Club BC and concerned citizens are calling on the B.C. government to take immediate steps to save the few remaining intact areas of old-growth forest on Vancouver Island and endangered old-growth forests across the province. These actions are imperative in light of the worsening global climate and ecological emergencies.
The demonstrations are part of a province-wide day of action initiated by Sierra Club BC to highlight the plight of B.C.’s old-growth forests. Demonstrations were held in Oliver, Campbell River, Sidney, Duncan, Courtenay-Comox, Parksville, Nanaimo, Langford, Langley, Nelson, Prince George, Sechelt, Surrey, Vancouver and Victoria.
“B.C.’s forests are in a state of emergency that cannot be ignored any longer,” said Sierra Club BC’s Galen Armstrong. “This government was elected on a promise to use conservation solutions applied in the Great Bear Rainforest across BC, yet they have failed to act. The longer we delay the less old growth will be left, with negative consequences for communities, endangered species, ecosystems and our climate. Once these trees are gone, they will never come back.”
B.C.’s coastal temperate rainforests are among the rarest ecosystems on the planet, but today less than 10 per cent of Vancouver Island’s largest old-growth trees are left. The current rate of old-growth logging on Vancouver Island is more than thirty soccer fields per day or about 10,000 hectares a year. This logging typically uses industrial clearcutting logging practices.
The loss of BC’s last old-growth forests is threatening plants and animals, carbon storage and environmental services like clean air and clean water. Species that depend on old-growth forests will not survive as the majority of the Island is progressively covered by young, even-aged forests.
Increasing conservation and stringent forestry laws are needed to ensure communities have clean water and clean air as a basis for a diverse economy, including tourism and recreation. These steps are critical to reduce the damage from worsening climate impacts like droughts and flooding.
Moving away from destructive practices like clearcutting must be part of provincial climate action to increase the amount of carbon stored in forests. This will translate into more jobs and less damage per cubic metre wood. Protected areas and logging regulation must also respect the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).
The NDP’s 2017 election platform included a commitment to act on old-growth logging, promising to take “an evidence-based scientific approach and use the ecosystem-based management of the Great Bear Rainforest as a model.” The mandate letter for Minister of Forests Doug Donaldson calls for sustainable management of BC’s old-growth forests. However, it remains unclear what steps the province is planning to take to protect endangered old-growth ecosystems.
Sierra Club BC is calling for immediate action by the provincial government to protect and restore endangered old-growth ecosystems, before intensifying climate impacts like drought, wildfires and storms—coupled with destructive logging practices—further exacerbate pressure on ecosystems.
For more information:
Sierra Club BC’s “White Rhino” map showing Vancouver Island’s most endangered old-growth rainforests and recent old-growth logging: https://sierraclub.bc.ca/white-rhino-map-shows-vancouver-islands-most-endangered-old-growth-rainforests/
Sierra Club BC
Clearcuts in climate-resilient rainforest lack Kwakwaka’wakw consent, threaten ecosystems and downstream orca rubbing beach habitat in Robson Bight
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
June 4, 2019
VICTORIA – Recent fieldwork conducted by the Wilderness Committee, Sierra Club BC and community researchers within Tlowitsis-Ma’amtagila territories on northeastern Vancouver Island reveals BC Timber Sales (BCTS) is responsible for widespread forest degradation, unbridled old-growth logging and a troubling track record of selective Indigenous consultation.
Last month, a field team documented clearcutting on steep slopes, logging immediately beside creeks and riparian zones and degradation of cultural ecosystems in some of the last largely intact watersheds on Vancouver Island. Basic archeological assessments of the forests and ecosystem integrity analysis was conducted in the impacted areas of the Upper Tsitika Valley, Naka Creek, Tessium Creek and Schmidt Creek, all of which drain into Johnstone Strait.
“I am sick and tired of government agencies and branches completely ignoring our rights and sovereignty,” said Rande Cook, Head Chief Makwala, Hamatam (Seagull) House of the Ma’amtagila Nation, part of the Kwakwaka’wakw people. “These logging corporations only want to consult with the First Nations they know they can get a pro-business outcome with. It’s fraught and it pits our community members against one another.”
BCTS is a standalone government agency managing around twenty per cent of the annual cut on provincial land. The B.C. government has committed to uphold the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), which holds that Indigenous Nations have the right to free, prior and informed consent when it comes to resource extraction within their territories.
“It’s infuriating that clearcut logging of old-growth rainforests is happening in these important ecosystems without fulsome Indigenous consent,” said Torrance Coste, Vancouver Island campaigner for the Wilderness Committee. “The fact that this is being done by the government of British Columbia should make everyone’s blood boil.”
Controversial logging company Lemare Lake Logging, subcontracting for San Group and Supercut Lumber Ltd., is the primary operator for the current round of logging.
The risk of serious landslides so close to orca rubbing beaches at Robson Bight has local whale experts worried. Northern resident orcas rub themselves along beaches with a specific slope and size of rocks. Increased sediment from logging activities and human-caused erosion lead to the cumulative loss of these special ecosystem characteristics.
“It boggles my mind to think that this outdated practice is still legal,” said Mark Worthing, climate and conservation campaigner with Sierra Club BC. “The public trust has been deeply violated. The B.C. government and these logging companies no longer have the social licence to continue logging ancient forests.”
The B.C. NDP promised to “apply an evidence-based scientific approach to land use planning, using the ecosystem-based management of the Great Bear Rainforest as a model for managing old-growth forests.” But two years later, the B.C. government has not made any meaningful progress toward implementing this election commitment.
Last month, BCTS postponed the auction of several cutblocks near Port Renfrew after public outcry from local residents and environmental groups.
“The postponement of the blocks near the Juan de Fuca Trail is a good first step, but this is the furthest thing from an isolated incident — up and down the Island, BCTS is hammering old-growth without public input or proper consultation. It’s time for BCTS to suspend all current and upcoming auctions in old-growth forests,” Coste said.
Sierra Club BC, the Wilderness Committee and the Ancient Forest Alliance, along with tens of thousands of B.C. residents, have called on Premier John Horgan and Forests Minister Doug Donaldson to protect remaining old-growth rainforests in sensitive areas like Schmidt Creek, the Nahmint Valley and the Manning Park Donut Hole on the mainland. The B.C. government has ignored these calls to date.
For more information:
Images of recent old-growth clearcuts and remaining old-growth rainforest slated for logging in Tsitika Valley, Naka Creek, Tessium Creek and Schmidt Creek are available at: https://photos.google.com/share/AF1QipMeeyOe7pDl1YPb27MJhq2cI0UZ2499o5hyV1XdIGi0tLahRkdvYpnbBokh0AuM7A?key=V1lZRVN2QzduT3N2amJTMGQ0STB1ek9raGJKSlZ3
For more information on threats to orca rubbing beaches from logging: https://sierraclub.bc.ca/proposed-old-growth-logging-on-vancouver-island-threatens-unique-orca-rubbing-beaches/
Vancouver Island Campaigner
Climate and Conservation Campaigner
Sierra Club BC
As logging companies across the province can no longer easily find big old-growth trees, they’re pushing into increasingly controversial areas, including places we love most.
The 109 hectares of spectacular old-growth stands next to the beloved Juan de Fuca Trail and Port Renfrew—put up for auction by the BC government’s own logging agency BC Timber Sales (BCTS) —are just one shocking example.
Members of our staff visited these stands in Pacheedaht territory in early May and what they saw was breathtaking. Pictures of the area reveal giant cedars, culturally modified trees (CMTs), a northern red-legged frog (a species of concern in BC) and egg masses of the northwestern salamander.
Thanks to many of you, a huge public outcry followed after Sierra Club BC and other groups raised awareness about this proposal. The auction for this cutblock is now on hold, for the moment at least.
But instead of taking the concerns seriously and dropping this proposal for good, BCTS only allowed for a temporary reprieve. They aren’t yet giving up their plan to clearcut. After repeated emails from us, the province passed on this statement from BCTS on May 16, 2019:
“BCTS is no longer advertising the timber sale licence in order to engage with a local stakeholder who was inadvertently missed during the initial referrals. Since additional engagement needs to occur, at this time we can’t speculate when the timber sale licence may be re-posted and to what degree the current cutblocks may be revised.”
This statement doesn’t help to restore trust, as concerned citizens expect transparency and will want to know when they might have to be ready to fight this proposal again.
And it’s just 109 of more than 8,800 hectares of old-growth forest that BCTS has placed on the chopping block for the coming years.
And just as we cheered this temporary win, field assessments on the north island revealed fresh and shocking new clearcuts.
Together with Torrance Coste, Vancouver Island Campaigner for the Wilderness Committee, Sierra Club BC’s team did two weeks of assessments in recent clearcuts and high-value hotspots.
They were blown away by the recent destruction – much of which can be traced directly back to BCTS. Below, photos show an active BCTS falling block near Tsitika Provincial Park, where ancient cedars and 500+ year-old hemlocks were cut.
Read our media release about the story and view photos by Louis Bockner, a professional photographer who joined us on the trip. You can also find shocking initial photos taken by Sierra Club BC staff here.
Sierra Club BC and the Wilderness Committee did site visits to Western Forest Products clearcuts in Eliza Inlet, Northwest Vancouver Island.
Doing some site visits to Western Forest Products Area here in Eliza Inlet, Northwest Vancouver Island. Slides, blown out culverts, huge clear cuts, little creeks pumped full of waste and slash. This industry is a disgrace, don’t believe the PR.
Posted by Mark Worthing on Tuesday, 14 May 2019
They also visited Schmidt Creek, where old-growth logging is in full swing. Last year, Sierra Club BC supporters made phone calls to BC’s forest minister Doug Donaldson to direct BCTS to stop planning and auctioning hundreds of hectares of old-growth to the highest bidder in steep slopes close to the globally unique orca rubbing beaches of Robson Bight.
In this video from our recent trip, Sierra Club BC’s Galen Armstong sits beside a 600-year old hemlock that was recently cut in Schmidt Creek. Much of the area has been clearcut since we visited last in the fall, but there is still much that can – and must – be saved from the chopping block.
#FieldUpdate: Last year, Sierra Club BC supporters were mobilized to call Minister Donaldson to stop logging old-growth in Schmidt Creek. Despite the public outcry, nothing changed.
We’re devastated to see the destruction since, but there is still some forest left that can be saved. This old-growth habitat is ecologically important to many species-at-risk, including northern resident orcas, northern murrlets, and northern goshawks.
This time around, we must stop this ecosystem from being further destroyed by the BC government. Take action to #SaveOldGrowth 🌲https://sierraclub.bc.ca/rainforestisland/
Learn more about the significance of this region 👉 https://sierraclub.bc.ca/old-growth-logging-a-threat-to-orca-whales/
Posted by Sierra Club BC on Friday, 10 May 2019
Torrance and Mark also visited the Upper Tahsish where BCTS is proposing cutblocks in one of the last remaining “hotspots” – the few remaining relatively intact old-growth areas large enough to provide a haven for some of the species that depend on intact rainforests.
Fresh out of the clearcuts, the Sierra Club BC and Wilderness Committee teams hosted a town hall on forests and climate change in Courtenay. You can watch the replay here:
Posted by Sierra Club BC on Friday, 10 May 2019
It’s clear that more and more people are getting upset over government inaction on forests. Some elected officials in our provincial legislature are calling for the last old-growth to be protected. We welcome attention to this issue and we would like to see all political parties begin to champion old-growth. To encourage this, BC residents concerned about old-growth need to keep raising the issue with their MLAs.
Want to learn more? Our weekly forest webinars have been a big hit. We heard from forest experts like Valerie Langer, Andy Mackinnon and Jens Wieting. Wildcrafter Sharon Mackenzie shared about gathering and harvesting traditional foods and medicines and Eli Enns (Tla-o-qui-aht) shared about Indigenous-led conservation and tribal parks. Kekinusuqs, Dr. Judith Sayers of the Hupacasath First Nation, Jennifer Houghton of founder of Boundary Forest Watershed Stewardship Society and Mark Worthing of Sierra Club BC rounded it out with diverse perspectives on forests.
Please donate to help amplify our old-growth forest campaign.
Feature image: Thursday Creek, by Mark Worthing.