“White Rhino” map shows most endangered old-growth rainforest now covers less than 7 per cent of Vancouver Island
New Sierra Club BC map enables residents to take informed action to defend old-growth rainforest
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
March 6, 2018
A new Sierra Club BC map released today entitled State of Vancouver Island’s Coastal Temperate Rainforest shows with in-depth detail the scarce remaining endangered old-growth rainforest ecosystems and recent old-growth destruction on Vancouver Island.
The map is available for download and in print to support local and First Nation governments and concerned citizens engaging with the provincial government and industry to protect what little old-growth is left on the island.
“We have shared our maps, data and recommendations with the new BC government but have not seen meaningful funding tied to protecting old-growth in the 2018 budget. In the absence of leadership by the provincial government, it’s up to local and Indigenous governments, businesses and concerned citizens to step up and insist that the most endangered old-growth rainforest stands are spared from the chainsaws,” said Jens Wieting, senior forest and climate campaigner. “Our new map gives them the information they need.”
BC’s temperate rainforests represent the largest remaining tracts of a globally rare ecosystem covering just 0.5 per cent of the planet’s landmass. Yet the current rate of old-growth logging on Vancouver Island is more than 3 square metres per second, more than 10,000 hectares per year.
“The science and our mapping show immediate steps are needed to protect the most endangered old-growth forest, combined with support for Indigenous-led land-use planning and long-term forestry jobs in second-growth,” said Wieting. “It’s time to move beyond this mindset of short-term profit that leaves communities with scarred landscapes, lost species, a damaged environment and reduced opportunities for diverse economic activities such as tourism and recreation.”
The Sierra Club BC map shows that the remaining 218,000 hectares of the most endangered low-elevation old-growth rainforest with the biggest trees and highest carbon storage per hectare (good and medium productivity forest) now only cover 6.5 per cent of the island. When including poor productivity old-growth (ecosystems with smaller trees), about one quarter of the island remains covered by old-growth forest.
The map also shows the 88,000 hectares of old-growth rainforest logged between 2006 – 2016 (2.6 percent of the island, equivalent to 220 Stanley Parks, an area larger than Greater Victoria) as well as the 132,000 hectares of second-growth logged in the same period (3.9 per cent of the island).
“Taking a closer look at this map and the ecological hit this island has taken, you would be forgiven for thinking this is Madagascar or Sumatra or another part of the world known for rapid destruction of biological richness,” said Wieting. “These endangered old-growth stands are becoming as rare as white rhinos.”
The loss of primary forests largely undisturbed by human activity is threatening biodiversity, carbon storage and environmental services. Species that depend on old-growth forests will not survive as the majority of the island is increasingly covered by young, even-aged forests that are clearcut in short rotation forestry.
The mandate letter for the Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, Doug Donaldson, calls for sustainable management of BC’s old-growth forests, but it remains unclear what steps the province is planning to take to protect endangered coastal and inland old-growth ecosystems.
Last week the provincial government announced increased protection for northern goshawk and marbled murrelet, bird species threatened by the loss of old-growth rainforest. The proposal is a step in the right direction, but implementation of the plan will take too long unless interim measures are put in place, and will not be sufficient to halt the ecological degradation of coastal old-growth rainforest ecosystems on Vancouver Island and the south coast.
Sierra Club BC is calling for immediate action by the provincial government to protect and restore endangered coastal rainforest ecosystems, before intensifying climate impacts like drought, wildfires and storms coupled with destructive logging practices further exacerbate pressure on ecosystems.
Sierra Club BC map: State of Vancouver Island’s Coastal Temperate Rainforest
Data: Vancouver Island Map Data Table
Background information: www.rainforestisland.ca
Forest and Climate Campaigner
Sierra Club BC