Protestors rally infront of Parksville Qualicum Beach MLA Michelle Stilwell’s office on Feb. 6 to call for the protection of old-growth forests on Vancouver Island. (Karly Blats/News staff)

B.C. residents visit MLAs’ offices to urge action on old growth protection

Activists want to see more done to protect old growth forests

Demonstrators, with the help of an activist group, delivered letters co-signed by 20,000 B.C. residents to the offices of prominent politicians, advocating for the protection of dwindling old growth forests.

Premier John Horgan’s office said he would decline to make comments at this time. Instead, the office released a statement through Minister Doug Donaldson of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development in British Columbia.

READ MORE: International call for action to save B.C.’s old-growth rainforests

“This government appreciates the value of old growth forests for their biodiversity and is currently refining an old-growth strategy,” Donaldson said.

“Under the Vancouver Island Land Use Plan, over 13 per cent of Vancouver Island will never be logged, including 520,000 hectares of old growth forests,” he added.

“We are encouraged by recent statements by the B.C. government to develop a more robust old-growth strategy. The critical step for the government to demonstrate is to take this ecological emergency seriously,” said Jens Wieting, Sierra Club B.C.’s senior campaigner.

That would mean immediate interim steps for some of the last remaining intact areas in highly endangered old-growth forests across the province before losing options to protect more forests, Wieting noted.

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

Big tree ecosystems cover 6.5 per cent of Vancouver Island.

They are the most endangered and also the most attractive for companies, Wieting said.

A majority of these big tree ecosystems are still open for logging.

Old-growth or big tree forests on Vancouver Island are trees more than 250 years old, according to the Ancient Forest Alliance.

The NDP promised during the 2017 election campaign to use the Great Bear Rainforest model to protect old-growth, but so far it’s been 18 months of inaction, according to the group.

Immediate interim solutions or steps are important, Wieting said.

“If logging continues among the last remaining intact areas and in the most endangered forests, there will be nothing left to create lasting solutions. It will be too late,” Wieting said.

The only solution is to prevent all cutting from the protected areas and to set more land aside to be protected, according to Sierra Club BC.

ALSO READ: Conservation groups discover ancient old-growth forest near Port Renfrew

Letters were delivered to constituency offices of Horgan, Environment Minister George Heyman, Nanaimo-North Cowichan MLA Dough Routley, Courtenay-Comox MLA Ronna-Rae Leonard, and North Island MLA Claire Trevena.

Deliveries were also made by concerned activists to MLAs in Swan Lake, Surrey-Walley, North Vancouver-Lonsdale, Vancouver-Hastings, Powell-River Sunshine Coast, Port Coqutlam, Parksville-Qualicum, Cowichan Valley and Penticton.

TimberWest and BC Timber Sales were not immediately available for a comment on this story.

swikar.oli@goldstreamgazette.com


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