Calvin Sandborn

Calvin Sandborn

Ancient Forest Alliance pushes parties to protect old growth

The Ancient Forest Alliance is taking provincial political parties to task in terms of committing to preserve B.C.’s old growth forests.

The Ancient Forest Alliance is taking provincial political parties to task this election in terms of committing to preserve B.C.’s remaining old growth forests.

The Victoria-based environmental organization that caught international attention with its advocacy for old growth near Port Renfrew coined “Avatar Grove,” says the province is running out of its oldest forests, and has little legislation in place to protect what’s left.

“Industry still logs thousands of hectares of old growth every year,” said Ken Wu, executive directior of the AFA. “We can and must develop a sustainable second growth industry.

“Without handcuffs on industry, this is going to be the end of this resource. It’s up to government, be it the Liberals or the NDP, to make a commitment.”

Last week, the AFA and the University of Victoria Environmental Law Centre issued proposed legislation to protect old growth forests. Part of that plan involves engaging an independent scientific council to assess the ecological risk associated with varying levels of remaining old growth forests.

“While some legal mechanisms are available today under various statutes, we feel there is a need for new legislation and planning that is based on science, governed by timelines, and plugs existing loopholes or inconsistencies,” said Calvin Sandborn, legal director of the UVic Environmental Law Centre.

This week, the AFA criticized the B.C. NDP’s platform as continuing the “unsustainable status quo of old-growth forest liquidation and over-cutting.” It said the B.C. Liberals remain convinced the forests aren’t endangered, and the party has left a legacy of forestry job losses, raw log exports and unsustainable harvests.

Wu noted the B.C. Green party has committed to key parts of the proposed legislation.