Protest calls for pro­tec­tion of old-growth forests

The Prince George Citizen - - Front Page - Mark NIELSEN Ci­ti­zen staff [email protected]­i­t­i­zen.ca

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.”

CI­TI­ZEN PHOTO BY BRENT BRAATEN

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.

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