Protest calls for protection of old-growth forests
Armed with an 800-name petition, a rally in support of preserving B.C.’s old growth forests drew about two dozen people to the steps of MLA Shirley Bond’s office midday Thursday.
Organized by Conservation North, a local group, it was held as part of a province-wide day of action calling for stronger measures to protect the remaining unlogged swaths.
Describing them as “endangered landscapes deserving of our love, respect and care,” Conservation North director Michelle Connolly said once an old growth forest has been logged, it and the diversity of plants and animals it holds, cannot be replaced.
“What’s more, we’re running out of old growth to log,” she said.
“A transition to logging second growth is inevitable, so why not start this transition while we still have something left?”
With the help of cardboard cutouts and chalk, children made outlines of moose and deer on the sidewalk. The group also unfurled a banner saying “Protect Our Old Growth.”
They also presented Bond with a letter holding a petition of more than 800 names calling for action.
Conservation North is seeking a list of measures including an Old Growth Forest Protection Act, an immediate moratorium on logging Interior cedar stands and redesignating old growth management areas into reserves.
Connolly was particularly critical of the way old growth management areas work.
Although counted as part of the protected areas within the province, she said so-called OGMAs are a “wishywashy, lame form of protection that isn’t really protection.”
“Logging companies can move them, they can drive roads through them, they can log them and create a new old growth management area in an area that’s not even old growth,” Connolly said.
On whether old growth hit by beetles should be logged, Connolly said they should be left untouched.
“When forests die from something natural like a spruce beetle or a defoliator like the looper, it often has the same value for wildlife, so those areas are worth protecting,” she said.
Connolly said the group will be working to determine how much old growth is left in the region.
During the rally, Judy Thomas, a professional forester, said there are 16 clear cuts over 10,000 hectares, two of them over 50,000, in the Prince George timber supply area. She linked the decline in moose population to a loss of habitat through logging.
“We’ve got to do something,” Thomas said. “The two are not unrelated.”
Bond was on hand to accept the letter and petition and said what the province’s land base should look like in the future is an important discussion. She also noted the work that was put into creating the Ancient Forest Provincial Park and that 15 per cent of B.C.’s land base is protected.
Also known as Chun T’oh Whudujut (pronounced Chun Toe Wood-yu-jud) in the Lheidli T’enneh language, it covers 11,190 hectares and is home to an inland temperate rainforest made up of hemlock and western cedar trees as old as 1,000 years.
“It is a matter of trying to find that important balance between an industry that impacts our region significantly, people are losing their jobs as we speak,” Bond said.
“But people have strong and passionate views about this, and my jobs as an MLA is to listen to those views.”
A group of people turned out for a rally in favour of the protection of old growth forests in front of MLA Shirley Bond’s office on Thursday, which was the Provincial Day of Action for Old Growth Forests.