Nina Rastogi, a Sierra Club volunteer, said the current government has not lived up to its promise to move toward more sustainable forms of forestry during a small rally staged at Nanaimo-North Cowichan MLA Doug Routley’s constituency office in Nanaimo Wednesday. CHRIS BUSH/The News Bulletin

Protesters rally against logging of old-growth rainforests on Vancouver Island

Residents gather in front of MLA offices to lobby for increased old growth protection

A couple dozen residents gathered in front of Parksville-Qualicum MLA Michelle Stilwell’s office today to send their message against the logging of old-growth rainforests on Vancouver Island.

A letter, signed by more than 20,000 B.C. residents, calling for the immediate protection of the last intact but unprotected old-growth stands across B.C., was presented there and at MLA constituency offices on the Island, Sunshine Coast and Lower Mainland, during similar protests organized in part by members of the Sierra Club BC Forest Team

Protesters called on the province to establish and Old-Growth Protection Act using the Great Bear Rainforest Agreement as a model, support First nations, create long-term forestry jobs and immediately halt logging in critical old-growth forest hotspots.

The Parksville protest included many from local environmental groups, including Arrowsmith Parks and Land Use Council, Friends of French Creek, Broombusters and Arrowsmith Naturalists. All were passionate about sending their message to the provincial government that the Island’s old-growth rainforests are in crisis.

“Why on earth are we allowing anyone to cut these old-growth forests down? They’re never going to grow back,” said Joanne Sales, Broombusters director.

In the past year, more than 16,000 B.C. residents have sent letters to the provincial government calling for the protection of ancient rainforests. According to the Sierra Club of BC, during that same period, about 10,000 hectares of old-growth forest has been clearcut.

“We want [the province] to know our old-growth forests are in crisis and we want them to stop logging old growth,” Sales said.

On Vancouver Island, old-growth forests are being cut at the rate of three square metres every second, or about 34 soccer fields per day, according to an information sheet from the Sierra Club of BC.

Sally Soanes, member of the Arrowsmith Naturalists, said the damage caused from logging old-growth forests is “horrendous.”

“Our hiking groups go out every 10 days, the damage is everywhere they go,” Soanes said. “They’re clearcutting right to the water, right to the creeks. French Creek watershed is in real trouble and that’s because it’s on private land and they’re cutting everything.”

In Nanaimo, about 20 people from the Sierra Club, Leadnow and other environmental advocacy groups gathered at Nanaimo-North Cowichan MLA Doug Routley’s constituency office.

Nina Ristogi, a volunteer with the Sierra Club said B.C.’s old-growth forests are among the “rare and precious” ecosystems on Earth and the most able on the planet to sequester carbon to help prevent global warming and if they are cut, because of climate change, they will never grow back and their ability to hold soil, protect watersheds, mitigate climate change and other environmental benefits will lost.

“We now have the highest rate ever of raw log exports in B.C. that we’ve ever had and we know about climate change,” Ristogi said in her address to the gathering. “We know about biodiversity and the need to protect biodiversity. Not cutting trees is what scientists say is the most important thing we could possibly do and they say, in particular, old-growth forests sequester the most carbon and so we need to protect them above all else. We need to protect our old-growth forests.”

Ristogi went on to express disappointment with the current NDP government’s failure to take steps on its promise to switch to more sustainable types of forestry since it came into power.

“That promise has not been kept,” she said. “There has been no real noticeable change … in those 18 months.”

The B.C. government announced in mid-January the Coast Forest Sector Revitalization Initiative. Forests Minister Doug Donaldson was in town Jan. 24 and spoke with the News Bulletin about the plan, saying the government wants to see more domestic log processing, less export of raw logs and better utilization of forest fibre.

“What I hear from communities like Nanaimo and others is we want to increase public trust in the oversight of a public resource, and that’s the forests, and increase social licence that the forest industry has to work in the forest,” the minister said.

karly.blats@pqbnews.com

 

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Indigenous man behind complaint of BC Transplant’s alcohol abstinence policy has died

David Dennis, who is Nuu-chah-nulth, argued that six-month sobriety policy is a ‘lethal form of racism’

Laid-off hotel workers demanding the right to return to work at Victoria protest

Businesses in accommodation and food sector report laying off 80 per cent of workforce

UPDATE: More details released on search for missing Vancouver Island hiker

Searchers scouring Strathcona Park near Gold River for experienced 65-year-old on 40-kilometre trek

Tourism bursting back to life on northern Vancouver Island

North Island buzzing the first weekend of July after Phase 3 allowed in-province travel

Another month, another mayor for Sayward

North Island village names its fourth mayor in a three-month span

B.C. records 31 new cases, six deaths over three days due to COVID-19

There are 166 active cases in B.C., 16 people in hospital

B.C. homeowners plead for action on condo insurance crisis

Strata property fees growing bigger than mortgage payments

UPDATE: Nanaimo RCMP report missing 19-year-old has been located safe and sound

Haley Murphy had not been seen since Tuesday, June 30, say police

Restaurant to be converted into housing for people experiencing homelessness

BC Housing buys popular Campbell River eatery for $985,000 to serve as bridge housing

ICBC to resume road tests in July with priority for rebookings, health-care workers

Tests have been on hold for four months due to COVID-19

Urge travellers to follow COVID-19 rules in a ‘gentle way’: B.C.’s top doctor

Cases surging in the U.S. have B.C. officials hoping the border stays shut all summer

96-year-old woman scales B.C. butte with help of family, friends

‘I did as I was told and I enjoyed every minute of it’

Parallel crises: How COVID-19 exacerbated B.C.’s drug overdose emergency

Part 1: Officials say isolation, toxic drug supply, CERB, contributing to crisis

Most Read