FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 28, 2023
Various locations across B.C. – People across British Columbia are taking to their MLA offices today to demand their elected representatives fulfill their promises to protect old-growth forests. From the Kootenays to the Coast, nearly twenty rallies and events are being held today in communities like Peachland, Revelstoke, Nanaimo, Nelson, Surrey, Campbell River, Victoria, and Vancouver.
Photos and videos from the day of action will be uploaded throughout the day here.
Today’s day of action for old-growth forests comes just over three years after the B.C. NDP government’s commitment to implement all 14 recommendations of the 2020 Old Growth Strategic Review (OGSR), which called for a three-year implementation timeline. To date, none of the recommendations have been fulfilled, there is widespread frustration, and people throughout B.C. are calling on the provincial government to get implementation on track before more irreplaceable old-growth forests fall.
The day of action was called by Wildsight, Wilderness Committee, Stand.earth, Sierra Club BC, and Elders for Ancient Trees, but events are largely hosted by local groups and constituents. Today’s protests are in support of the United For Old Growth Declaration and its calls for action, a message behind which thousands marched on the B.C. Legislature earlier this year.
Groups are calling for the B.C. government to fulfill its commitment to the OGSR, which outlined the need for a paradigm shift in forest stewardship to prioritize community and ecosystem values above timber. As part of its commitment, the province pledged to work with First Nations on long-term solutions and pause harvest in the most at-risk old-growth forests as a first step. Despite those promises, forests mapped as candidates for deferral continue to be targeted by logging companies.
Constituents are aiming to send their MLAs back to the B.C. Legislative Assembly next week with a strong mandate to fulfill the government’s old growth promises. Their demands to elected officials include that Premier David Eby fulfill his promise to accelerate action on old growth, by immediately stopping logging in the most at-risk old-growth forests; provide full and urgent financial support to First Nations; and ensure fully transparent information about forests and logging moving forward.
“The worst wildfire season in B.C. history underscores how poorly forests here have been managed, and people from all walks of life want to see nature and biodiversity put ahead of logging profits,” said Jackie Larkin of the Elders for Ancient Trees. “Community organizers, artists, and performers from all around the province are coming together today to send this message of urgency to the government in creative and beautiful ways.”
“Every day we hear from people in every corner of B.C. who are fed up with the ongoing destruction of irreplaceable forests that the B.C. NDP promised to set aside,” said Torrance Coste, National Campaign Director for the Wilderness Committee. “Premier Eby needs to use the fall session of the Legislature to change course, and end this track record of talk-and-log and broken promises on old growth.”
“The B.C. NDP made an election promise to protect old growth, and three years later the most rare forests are still being destroyed on their watch,” said Tegan Hansen, Senior Forest Campaigner at Stand.earth. “People across B.C. are taking action today to hold Premier David Eby and his government accountable to the pledge they made to voters. Premier Eby needs to keep his promise, and take real action to keep old-growth forests standing now.”
“Industrial forest degradation exacerbates climate change impacts, including the risk of fire. This year, a record 2.5 million hectares of forests burned in B.C. A similar area has been mapped as most at-risk old growth, and also happens to be the most resilient forest with the best chance to withstand climate impacts. But more than half of those stands remain open to logging,” said Jens Wieting, Senior Forest and Climate Campaigner for Sierra Club BC. “The escalating climate and biodiversity crises show that we can’t afford another three years of delays and destruction.”
“Citizens across the province are standing up and demanding Premier Eby accelerate action to protect the old and ancient forests in their backyards. British Columbia is one of the last jurisdictions in the world still liquidating our irreplaceable old and ancient forests,” said Eddie Petryshen, Conservation Specialist for Wildsight. “Premier Eby must usher in a new era protecting these forests and transforming our forest sector to a high value-low volume jurisdiction where we get the most value out of every tree harvested, maximizing benefits to Nations and communities, not just shareholders.”
*the spokespeople below can connect journalists with organizers in local ridings/regions. See the full list of ridings here.
Jackie Larkin, Elders for Ancient Trees
Torrance Coste, National Campaign Director, Wilderness Committee
Tegan Hansen, Senior Forest Campaigner, Stand.earth
Jens Wieting, Senior Forest and Climate Campaigner/Science Advisor, Sierra Club BC
Eddie Petryshen, Conservation Specialist, Wildsight
Poster design: Emily Thiessen