FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
February 6, 2019
Together with concerned local residents, representatives of Sierra Club BC and Leadnow today delivered a letter signed by more than 20,000 B.C. residents to government MLA offices across B.C.
The letter makes an urgent call for the protection of the last intact stands of unprotected old-growth on Vancouver Island and immediate protection of endangered old-growth forests across the province. Eighteen months after taking power, the government has yet to take meaningful steps to protect endangered ancient forests.
The letter was delivered to the constituency offices of Premier John Horgan, Environment Minister George Heyman, Nanaimo-North Cowichan MLA Doug Routley (Nanaimo office), Courtenay-Comox MLA Ronna-Rae Leonard and North Island MLA Claire Trevena.
At least seven additional deliveries were made by individual concerned citizens to MLAs across the province including the ridings of Victoria-Swan Lake, Surrey-Walley, North Vancouver-Lonsdale, Vancouver-Hastings, Powell-River Sunshine Coast, Port Coquitlam, Parksville-Qualicum, Cowichan Valley and Penticton.
“The plight of B.C.’s old-growth, especially in the context of the growing climate crisis, has become an ecological emergency,” said Jens Wieting, Sierra Club BC’s senior forest and climate campaigner. “We need to safeguard remaining intact old-growth and the life support systems we all depend on before it’s too late.”
B.C.’s temperate rainforests represent the largest remaining tracts of a globally rare ecosystem covering just half a per cent of the planet’s landmass. Yet the current rate of old-growth logging on Vancouver Island alone is more than three square metres per second, or about thirty-four soccer fields per day.
The most endangered old-growth rainforest with the biggest trees now only cover 6.5 per cent of the Island.
“These ancient trees provide some of the best carbon sinks on the planet,” said Jolan Bailey of Leadnow. “In today’s rapidly changing climate, if we cut them down, they will never return as we knew them. Now is the time to act.”
On average, temperate rainforests store more carbon than tropical rainforests, helping to slow down global warming. When left intact, they are relatively resilient and less vulnerable to climate impacts such as fire and insect outbreaks compared to other forests.
“One thing we can do here in B.C. is to set a strong example of old-growth protection that respects Indigenous rights and title while creating new jobs and improving second-growth forestry,” said Wieting. “The Great Bear Rainforest Agreements showed solutions for healthy rainforests and healthy communities are possible.”
B.C.’s forests used to absorb more carbon than they released. But as a result of destructive logging practices, pine beetle outbreaks and wildfires, they became a net source of carbon pollution beginning in the early 2000s.
This trend 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.
Sierra Club BC is calling for immediate action to protect remaining intact old-growth and endangered ecosystems to safeguard threatened species, Indigenous values and a livable climate.
The NDP’s 2017 election platform included a commitment to act for old-growth, promising to take “an evidence-based scientific approach and use the ecosystem-based management of the Great Bear Rainforest as a model.” But the B.C. government has not yet taken any meaningful steps to protect endangered coastal and inland old-growth ecosystems outside the Great Bear Rainforest.
2018 aerial photographs of clearcut logging on Vancouver Island: https://www.flickr.com/photos/94279740@N07/sets/72157698359993961
Sierra Club BC’s “White Rhino” map showing Vancouver Island’s most endangered old-growth rainforests and recent old-growth logging:
Sierra Club BC’s report Hidden, ignored and growing: B.C.’s forest carbon emissions: https://sierraclub.bc.ca/wp-content/uploads/SCBC-Forest-Emissions-Report-Jan-19.pdf
Senior Forest and Climate Campaigner
Sierra Club BC
Sierra Club BC