FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
December 14, 2017
VICTORIA—A new Sierra Club BC review of government data and recent satellite images showed that logging of remaining old-growth rainforest on public and private lands on Vancouver Island jumped to 10,700 hectares in 2016. This number is more than 10 per cent higher than the annual average in the 10-year period 2005–2015.
“Time is running out to safeguard highly endangered, globally rare old-growth rainforest,” said Jens Wieting, Sierra Club BC’s forest and climate campaigner. “We need to act now before the remaining stands get logged or become too fragmented to protect the web of life, First Nations’ values and diverse economic activities that depend on intact forests.”
The total old-growth logged on Vancouver Island during the 10-year period between 2005–2015 was 88,900 hectares. The average annual amount of old-growth logged was 8,890 hectares (equivalent to about 22 Stanley Parks). However, this annual amount increased significantly in 2016 to 10,700 hectares (equivalent to more than 26 Stanley Parks).
In its election platform, the NDP stated it would take action for old-growth forests, modernize land-use planning in partnership with First Nations, and use the ecosystem-based management of the Great Bear Rainforest as a model.
“Ramping up old-growth logging instead of reducing it means that the inevitable transition to second-growth forestry will only become harder in the coming years,” said Arnold Bercov, President of the Public and Private Workers of Canada. “We need immediate action by the NDP government for sustainable second-growth forestry jobs and endangered old-growth, before more mills close their doors.”
Support for protecting endangered old-growth on Vancouver Island has been growing quickly in recent years. Chambers of Commerce, local governments, forestry unions, First Nations leaders and conservation groups have called on the provincial government to increase protection of old-growth for wildlife, First Nations’ cultural values, opportunities for tourism and recreation, and carbon storage.
A 2016 Sierra Club BC analysis of remaining old-growth on Vancouver Island and the South Coast showed that almost half of the landscape units now have less than 30 per cent of productive old-growth remaining (Landscape units are areas of land used for long-term forest planning, usually 50,000 to 100,000 hectares). Ecologists consider 30 per cent the threshold for ‘high ecological risk’ of loss of species. The increase in old-growth logging will result in even higher ecological risk for flora and fauna combined with increasingly severe climate change impacts. Government data paints an overly optimistic picture by including poor productivity old-growth rainforest ecosystems with typically smaller trees.
Environmental organizations Sierra Club BC, Ancient Forest Alliance and Wilderness Committee have asked the BC government to develop an Old-Growth Protection Act and establish logging moratoria for critical remaining intact old-growth areas before it is too late to develop long-term protection plans. These steps must be combined with support for new jobs in improved second-growth forest management and for First Nations land use planning and sustainable economic activities.
Forest and Climate Campaigner, Sierra Club BC
High-res versions of maps available upon request:
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.
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:
- Place an immediate ban on all exports of raw logs from old-growth forests.
- Immediately impose progressively higher taxes on log exports from second-growth forests to encourage investment in domestic mills.
- 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.
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.
Clayoquot Sound Conservation Alliance supports Ahousaht leadership in conservation and community development goals announced today
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
January 25, 2017
TOFINO – This afternoon, the Ahousaht Hawiih (hereditary chiefs) publicly announced their nation’s new comprehensive Land Use Vision for their territory, which sits within the heart of the Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Representatives of the Clayoquot Sound Conservation Alliance (CSCA) (comprised of Greenpeace, Friends of Clayoquot Sound, Sierra Club BC, STAND. earth and Wilderness Committee) were present to support and congratulate the Hawiih for this initiative.
“The Ahousaht Land Use Vision steps up to meet the environmental and social imperatives of the 21st century with solutions for rainforest conservation and community benefits within their famous territory, located in one of the most beautiful and ecologically rich landscapes in the world,” said Valerie Langer of Stand.earth (formerly ForestEthics), a member of the CSCA.
Under the Land Use Vision about 80 percent of Ahousaht territory will be set aside as cultural and natural areas “to conserve biological diversity, natural landscapes and wilderness, and to provide for Ahousaht continued spiritual, cultural and sustenance use.”
The new Land Use Vision was developed by the Maaqutusiis Hahoulthee Stewardship Society (MHSS) under the direction of the Hawiih, in consultation with the community of Ahousaht First Nation. It identifies different land use designations for their territory. The bold vision moves Ahousaht First Nation away from old-growth logging and other unsustainable industries in ecologically important rainforest areas while prioritizing low-impact, community-led economic development by and for the Ahousaht people. The vision follows the declaration of a moratorium on old-growth logging in Ahousaht territory, made by the Hawiih in 2015.
The organizations that form the Clayoquot Sound Conservation Alliance have been advocating for the protection of the region’s globally significant temperate rainforest for more than three decades.
Ahousaht First Nation traditional territory sits in the heart of Clayoquot Sound, which remains the largest area of old-growth rainforest on Vancouver Island.
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For more information, please contact:
Valerie Langer, Strategic Projects, STAND.earth (formerly ForestEthics) (604) 307-6448
Jens Wieting, Forests & Climate Campaigner, SierraClub BC (604) 354-5312
Torrance Coste, Vancouver Island Campaigner, Wilderness Committee (250) 516-9900
Jeh Custerra, Campaigner, Friends of Clayoquot Sound (306) 361-7855
Eduardo Sousa, Senior Forests Campaigner, Greenpeace (778) 378-9955
Feature image by Jens Wieting
The time has come to end logging of endangered old-growth forests on Vancouver Island and B.C.’s south coast. First Nations, communities, organizations, and citizens are calling for the protection of old-growth forests. Their voices are getting louder, more varied, and more numerous.
A shift is underway since leaders of the Ahousaht First Nation in Clayoquot Sound announced an end to industrial scale logging in their Hahoulthlee (traditional territory) in October 2015. This spring, Sierra Club BC released its latest data in form of a Google Earth tool showing the ecological emergency for endangered old-growth rainforest on Vancouver Island. Politicians and logging companies are hearing over and over the same call: old-growth is far too valuable to destroy.
Voting to defend ancient trees
“Vancouver Island growing away from old growth logging?”
This was the headline of an article featured in many Vancouver Island newspapers discussing a “dramatic shift in Island thinking.”And it was just one of many media articles in previous weeks highlighting the momentum.
This change was reflected in the vote by the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities in favour of halting harvesting of old-growth in April, stating old growth has more “economic, social and environmental value as wildlife habitat, tourism resource, carbon sink and much more” if it is left standing. The decision was echoed by the B.C. Chamber of Commerce, which voted in May to support the same principle across the province in instances where old-growth trees “have or can likely have a greater net economic value for communities if they are left standing.”
Sierra Club BC Forest campaigner Jens Wieting explained that benefits of logging endangered old-growth rainforest on Vancouver Island are greatly overshadowed by its negative impacts. “Logging no longer has the same economic importance. We have two trends: there are fewer benefits from logging and increasing benefits of keeping trees standing.”
The benefits of protecting old-growth forests
A Times Colonist editorial recognized the economic benefits of protecting old-growth forests: “Old-growth forests and other pristine areas of B.C. attract an increasing number of visitors, and will continue to generate jobs forever. When an area is logged off, the jobs are gone until the forest regenerates, and that takes a long, long time. We should remember, too, that forests are about more than esthetics or recreation—they are vital to the health of our watersheds and even the air we breathe.”
Looking at the old-growth logging more broadly shows that many Vancouver Island communities must diversify their economies to move beyond resource extraction dependant livelihoods and avoid ending up as ghost towns. It is time to thrust ourselves into a just transition away from ecologically destructive logging of Vancouver Island’s finite non-renewable old-growth to a diverse economy including old-growth tourism, sustainable, value added second-growth forestry, conservation financing and carbon revenue for First Nations (such as in the Great Bear Rainforest and the Cheakamus Community Forest Carbon project).
Preventing destructive logging practices
While many were calling for an end to old-growth logging, others were highlighting the damage currently taking place in our ancient forests. The Tyee and numerous Vancouver Island newspapers reported on Sierra Club BC’s work to increase scrutiny and awareness about poor practices and destructive logging of some of the last intact old-growth rainforest on Northern Vancouver Island by Lemare Lake Logging in East Creek.
Also in June, the Vancouver Sun’s Stephen Hume stated that proposed logging in the endangered Cameron Valley Ancient Forest (“Firebreak”) on Vancouver Island would be “a crime against nature”. In July, Hume reported on Sierra Club BC’s study showing that high rates of old growth rainforest logging on Vancouver Island will lead to an ecological and economic collapse in a generation unless provincial government policy changes.
In the Times Colonist, the Wilderness Committee reminded readers that government and industry must show leadership to protect one of the grandest stands on the island, the Central Walbran, from further fragmentation through old-growth cutting: “Listening to the destruction of some of the last old-growth rainforest on Vancouver Island is tough, but it’s not as frustrating as watching our elected officials turn their backs on this problem and on the citizens, local governments and business groups who want it addressed.”
The recent completion of the final steps of the Great Bear Rainforest Agreements through First Nations governments and the BC government, with the support of a group of environmental organizations and logging companies, shows that solutions are possible. As a result of the agreements, 85 percent (3.1 million hectares) of the region’s coastal temperate rainforests are now off-limits to industrial logging. The amount of old-growth available as part of the remaining 15 percent of the forest will be capped and subject to the most stringent commercial logging legal standards in North America. In contrast, very little old-growth remains in the southern half of the coast, and even less is protected.
Learn more, do more
For more information, including what must be done to safeguard Vancouver Island’s endangered old-growth rainforest and how to contact the B.C. government to share your concerns, please check out our newspaper “Vancouver Island’s Last Stand” (jointly published with our friends at Wilderness Committee)
Help us continue to protect B.C’s natural spaces by donating today.
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By Bob Peart
In the late 1980’s I commented on the proposed forest harvesting plans for what was then termed the Inside Passage or Mid-Coast Timber Supply Area, now known as the Great Bear Rainforest.
On Monday, I witnessed the announcement of the final steps of the historic Great Bear Rainforest Agreements. After over a decade of negotiations, the B.C. provincial government, First Nations, a group of forestry companies and environmental organizations reached agreement that 85 per cent of the Great Bear Rainforest will be protected from harvesting through a combination of protected areas – primarily conservancies respecting First Nations traditional uses and the stringent application of ecosystem-based management principles.
The Great Bear Rainforest is a global treasure and now that it is set aside can be a landscape of hope where economic activity can occur that is aligned with nature’s limits.
As the ceremony unfolded, I found myself reflecting back on the 40 years I have been involved in conservation and land use issues.
Consider the anger and emotions that led to the ‘war in the woods’ in the 70s and 80s and the subsequent huge effort put into the land use planning throughout the 90s by government, industry and communities. These processes led to such iconic areas as the Tatshenshini, the Stein, the Kitlope, the Khutzeymateen, the Horseranch and Chilcotins being legally protected.
In turn, we mustn’t forget the tumultuous times around Clayoquot Sound, and the dogged patience of those folks in the Fort St. John region who spent seven years negotiating the establishment of the Muskwa-Kechika Management Area.
These processes and the countless hours that people spent at the various negotiating tables all over the province has led to about 15 per cent of the province now being legally protected from industrial development, a truly momentous achievement.
As each of these processes were being undertaken over the decades, scientific understanding has evolved as has the understanding of, and respect for First Nations title and rights – which in turn shaped the next set of negotiations.
It seems hard to fathom but not that long ago, government would set aside lands as parks with little sense of ecological integrity, and no concern for First Nation title and rights.
Today, land use planning brings local people into the conversations, and seeks to honour First Nations’ rights, cultures and practices and to integrate principles of core protection and landscape connectivity into the picture.
The Great Bear Rainforest Agreements provide an astonishing example of land use planning that defends nature, strengthens indigenous communities, honours the people who live there and accommodates economic activities without undermining the environment.
It is almost impossible for me to fathom the countless hours and energy that have been spent piecing these agreements. Let us all congratulate the people who were involved in negotiating the Great Bear Agreements and honour how this important accomplishment will help ensure a future for the people, wildlife and ecosystems of the coastal temperate rainforest. My hat is off to Jens Wieting, Sierra Club BC’s Forest and Climate Campaigner who has worked doggedly on this file close to a decade, as well as to his colleagues with ForestEthics Solutions, Greenpeace and the Rainforest Solutions Project formed by our three organizations.