In this latest video, our Climate and Conservation Campaigner Mark Worthing powerfully speaks about the importance of forests.
Fall 2019-January 2020
The BC government has recently appointed an independent panel to engage the public on the ecological, economic and cultural importance of old-growth trees and forests.
We encourage all British Columbia residents to request a meeting with the panel or to write to the panel to express their views on old-growth forests. Their processes aren’t great, but we have to use this opportunity to press hard on the need to protect old-growth right now, not later. With old-growth forests in peril in this province, it’s important that our voices be heard, because urgent action is necessary.
This is what the panel has asked to hear from the public:
- What old-growth means to you and how you value it
- Your perspective on how old-growth is managed now
- How you think old-growth could be managed more effectively in the future
The panel is made up of two people: Garry Merkel (forester and member of the Tahltan Nation in Northwestern BC) and Al Gorley (forester). They have a history of working with industry and government. They insist that they will be truly independent and will develop their recommendations without censorship from the provincial government.
Their mandate is to listen and to summarize what they hear, reporting back to the Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (FLNRORD) in spring 2020 with “recommendations that are expected to inform a new approach to old-growth management for British Columbia.”
Information on Old-Growth Forests
We have prepared a set of resources on old-growth forests in BC and encourage you to view it to help inform your viewpoint.
- Sierra Club BC’s Forest Campaign website, with a wealth of links to resources, media releases, fact sheets and maps: https://RainforestIsland.ca/
- Our Forest Webinar series (see, in particular, “Old-Growth Update” and “Forest Planet”) https://sierraclub.bc.ca/forest-webinars/
- Latest polling data (9 in 10 British Columbians Support Protecting Old-Growth) https://sierraclub.bc.ca/9-in-10-support-protecting-old-growth/
- Old-growth backgrounder (2 pages, PDF): https://sierraclub.bc.ca/wp-content/uploads/OldGrowthBackgrounder_Nov2019.pdf
Legal changes are needed to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) in forestry laws in order to respect Indigenous jurisdiction and governance, support Indigenous-led conservation, and support economic alternatives for Nations that seek to protect more land. We encourage supporters to gain an understanding of UNDRIP and to learn about Indigenous law with resources from UVic’s Indigenous Law Research Unit.
Schedule, Deadlines and How to Participate
There are four ways to have your voice heard. Feedback is due by 4pm on Friday January 31, 2020.
- Request a meeting with the panel in person in locations below or via phone or video call. We are strongly encouraging anyone concerned about the state of old-growth to request a meeting with the panel. Sign up here. Then let us know whether you got a meeting and how it went by filling out this form. These are the dates the panel will be visiting locations around the province:
- Oct 24/25 – South Central Van Island
- Oct 28-31 – Skeena / Nechako
- Nov 7/8 – North Vancouver Island
- Nov 12-15 – Thompson / Shuswap
- Nov 18 and 21 – Vancouver
- Dec 2/3 – Northeast BC
- Dec 4-6 – Vancouver / Sunshine Coast
- Dec 9 – Haida Gwaii
- Dec 12/13 – Vancouver / Victoria
- Dec 16 – Sea to Sky
- Dec 17-20 – Cariboo / Okanagan
- Fill out the questionnaire (three short-answer questions; six check-box questions; four personal questions): https://feedback.engage.gov.bc.ca/747451?lang=en
Please note that you are able to skip questions. There is a text box at the end of the questionnaire to share your reasoning and any additional thoughts on old-growth protection.
- Email written submissions (including drawings) to email@example.com. These may be posted publicly or in the report. See the submission guidelines here: https://engage.gov.bc.ca/oldgrowth/guidelines-for-formal-submissions/
You can learn more about the Strategic Review process here: https://engage.gov.bc.ca/oldgrowth/
Call for Bold Changes to Forestry Laws Too
The BC government has also been thinking about how to improve the way forests are managed in BC. Soon, through a separate process, it’ll be revealing changes to the Forest & Range Practices Act (FRPA).
Changes to forestry laws need to include protections for old-growth. Let’s make sure this government gets the message that intact forests are important for bears and salmon, for Indigenous peoples, for storing carbon and for protecting communities in the face of climate change.
Photo: TJ Watt/Ancient Forest Alliance
In our diverse province, 92% of people agreeing with each other on anything is nearly unheard of. But British Columbians have spoken.
Sign up for our next live webinar on old-growth forests on November 14.
November 23 and 25
Sointula and Campbell River, BC
Forests and the industries they support are changing on the west coast. Please join Sierra Club BC and the Wilderness Committee for 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. This will be followed by a discussion about how we can build a just and sustainable future together.
Climate change and decades of forest mismanagement are—and will continue to be—major challenges into the future. How can we build interest in meaningful change on both these interconnected issues 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.
These events are being held on the territories of the Kwakwaka’wakw people. The organizers recognize that all forests grow on Indigenous territories and that all solutions must centre justice for Indigenous peoples and Nations.
Sointula: Saturday November 23 from 2-4 PM (F.O. Hall, 1st St, Sointula).
Campbell River: Monday November 25 from 7-9 PM (Campbell River Community Center, 401 11th Ave, Campbell River).
For more information, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
November 4, 2019
Ninety-two per cent of British Columbians support taking action to defend endangered old-growth forests, a new Research Co. poll has found.
The poll, which was commissioned by Sierra Club BC, revealed 62 per cent strongly support taking action.
These views are widely held across the province, with 90 per cent or more in southern B.C. and the Fraser Valley, 87 per cent on northern Vancouver Island and 83 per cent in northern B.C.
British Columbians also overwhelmingly believe it is important for the B.C. government to keep its election promise to take action on old-growth forests, including more protection for old-growth trees, less logging, partnerships with First Nations and support for a more diversified economy. Ninety-two per cent agreed with this statement.
About four in five British Columbians cited the following reasons to care about defending old-growth forests:
- Old-growth forests are important for First Nations cultural values;
- They give us clean water and help clean the air;
- Old-growth forests capture and store carbon from the atmosphere, which helps defend communities from the extreme weather caused by climate change;
- Many important and rare species depend on old-growth;
- Old-growth forests are globally rare and important, and should be protected as a legacy for future generations.
Sierra Club BC is calling on all levels of government to take immediate steps to defend endangered, carbon-rich old-growth forests and the vital environmental services they provide. Governments must transition to improved, truly sustainable forest management practices that work for people, communities and ecosystems and that respect Indigenous rights and jurisdiction.
“British Columbians care deeply about the endangered old-growth forests in this province, and want to do more to defend them,” said Sierra Club BC’s campaigns director Caitlyn Vernon. “The climate crisis means the provincial government must put the brakes on the rapid logging of endangered old-growth forests. We can protect big old trees and have sustainable forest jobs into the future, but only if we act quickly to increase protection and improve forest management.”
“The Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council are empowered to learn that such a high percentage of British Columbians want to see old-growth forest retained and recognize the immense value they have to all living things,” said President Judith Sayers of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council. “The taking of the old-growth forests destroys our sacred places, ecosystems, medicinal plants and habitat for wildlife and if we managed our forests this would not happen. We call upon the B.C. government to work with Nuu-chah-nulth to manage these forests so we can all continue to benefit from their richness. Once B.C.’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act becomes law, the B.C. government must amend forestry laws and regulations to ensure the rights of the Nuu-chah-nulth in old-growth forests are respected so we might as well start that protection immediately.”
The B.C. government is currently amending provincial forestry laws, the Forest and Range Practices Act (FRPA), with amendments scheduled to be tabled in spring 2020.
Separately, the B.C. government has launched a new panel to gather feedback from British Columbians on old-growth forests. However, recommendations from this panel will not inform the FRPA amendments, they will not be shared until late 2020, and there is no commitment to bringing them into law.
“The B.C. government can avoid a ‘talk and log’ situation of ongoing old-growth forest destruction by taking bold action for old-growth in their FRPA amendments in 2020,” said senior forests and climate campaigner Jens Wieting. “Across the province, close to one Stanley Park’s worth of old-growth forest is cut down every single day. We must close loopholes and increase protection of endangered old-growth in existing forestry laws, to leave a legacy for future generations. A new old-growth panel is no substitute for immediate conservation of the most endangered old-growth forests before they’re destroyed.”
[Results are based on an online study conducted from September 25 to September 28, 2019, among 842 adults in British Columbia. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region in British Columbia. The margin of error—which measures sample variability—is +/- 3.4 percentage points, nineteen times out of twenty.]
Editors/Producers: Photo and video footage of old-growth forests and forest destruction on Vancouver Island is located at https://drive.google.com/open?id=1ie48VmdMwCcVS9Q6GqbTDzxao_Fq1zUY
Research Co. Factum: https://sierraclub.bc.ca/wp-content/uploads/Factum_OldGrowthPoll_Oct2019-1.pdf
Backgrounder on old-growth forests in B.C.: https://sierraclub.bc.ca/wp-content/uploads/OldGrowthBackgrounder_Nov2019v2.pdf
For media inquiries:
Communications Director, Sierra Club BC
President, Research Co.
Photo: Mya Van Woudenberg/Sierra Club BC