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Letter: Protect Fairy Creek forest

Blockaders will be arrested for holding Premier John Horgan accountable for his own promise to halt logging in B.C.’s at-risk forests.
Fairy Creek rainforest
Fairy Creek rainforest, situated near Port Renfrew on southern Vancouver Island.
This month, the BC Supreme Court granted logging company Teal-Jones an injunction against the Fairy Creek forest defenders. The injunction will subject ancient forest defenders to arrest and forcible removal for defending Fairy Creek and other ancient forests in Pacheedaht territory.

Blockaders will be arrested for holding Premier John Horgan accountable for his own promise to halt logging in B.C.’s at-risk forests.

Horgan wrote a letter Oct. 19, 2020, during his snap campaign for re-election declaring,  A New Approach to Old Forests. He said, “This means recognizing that old forests are unique, irreplaceable, and complicated ecosystems, that they have their own intrinsic value, and that we should prioritize their overall ecosystem health, rather than just the value of standing timber.”

 He tells voters, “I’m committed to protecting old-growth and biodiversity while supporting forest workers and communities.” Adding that, “A re-elected BC NDP will implement the full slate of proposals from the Old Growth Strategic Review Panel. We will act on all fourteen recommendations and work with Indigenous leaders and organizations, industry, labour and environmental organizations on the steps that will take us there.”

 Well, so far, Forests Minister Katrine Conroy says the province has implemented only four of 14 recommendations that were brought forward following a report into old-growth logging in B.C. in September.

Teal-jones vice-president, Gerrie Kotze says, “the timber in these areas is vital to sustaining Teal-Jones’ operations and hundreds of jobs in the province.” What does Teal-Jones say will happen to workers and communities when British Columbia no longer has any old-growth forests?

 The premier’s letter continued, “Many of our old-growth stands are worth more standing up than they ever could be cut down, especially if we take a holistic approach that acknowledges broader benefits for communities and the environment.”

However, the Wilderness Committee recently discovered that the B.C.’s NDP government has sanctioned logging and road-building in nine areas the party said during the fall election campaign it had “protected” as old-growth.

Sierra Club BC senior forest and climate campaigner Jens Wieting, responding to the injunction said:  “The confrontation between logging company Teal-Jones and forest defenders in court is the result of the ongoing failure of the provincial government to follow through on their promise and deliver solutions to protect globally rare and endangered old-growth forest like the spectacularly intact Fairy Creek rainforest in Pacheedaht territory.” In the meantime, she says, “the province is locking in species extirpation, climate disaster and new conflict by auctioning new cut blocks in old-growth forests through its own agency, BC Timber Sales, including 927 hectares on Vancouver Island alone in 2021.”

This Supreme Court injunction supports the old capitalistic, colonial extractive industry.  Cutting ancient trees for private profit and devastating vital forest ecosystems connected to all other ecosystems during our global climate emergency, is reckless, disastrous and unimaginative. There is simply too much to lose.

 We are in the age of extinction so Horgan and his government must stand by their word, acting decisively and immediately to protect all old growth forests in British Columbia. Implementing sustainable and environmentally just forestry practices in collaboration with First Nations groups, recommendations from the IPCC and environmental groups like Sierra Club, Wilderness Committee and Ancient Forest Alliance.

 And, in Horgan’s own words, “Now let’s get to work”.

Kim Benson

Squamish