Jun 18, 2021
More than 100 prominent individuals throughout Canadian society, along with a handful of international supporters, urged British Columbia Premier John Horgan on Friday to fulfill his campaign pledge to immediately protect the region's imperiled old-growth forests, which continue to be logged despite scientific warnings against further destruction.
"Even though they promised to implement the recommendations from the expert panel, and scientists have clearly laid out what areas of at-risk old growth need to be deferred, the government has yet to stop the chainsaws."
--Tzeporah Berman, Stand.Earth
"Some things can't be replaced," the coalition of influential Indigenous leaders, political figures, academics, activists, authors, artists, and athletes wrote in a letter to Horgan, a member of the B.C. New Democratic Party (NDP).
"For thousands of years, these forests have cleaned our air and water, nurtured species, stabilized the climate, and been stewarded by Indigenous Nations through the jurisdictional management of their traditional lands," they added. "Protect the irreplaceable."
Despite the vital ecological role played by the area's ancient and enormous trees--some of which are over 1,000 years old and stand 250 feet tall--just "2.7% of large-tree old-growth forests remain in British Columbia, and despite recent small deferrals, these endangered forests are still being logged across the province, including in the Great Bear Rainforest," according to Canopy, a forest conservation group based in Canada.
Many signatories also appeared in a new video released Friday by Stand.Earth, an environmental justice organization.
Stand.Earth noted that the video, which will be placed as an advertisement on CBC National, Global News, and CHEK, is part of a growing pressure campaign to prevent further deforestation in the province. According to the group:
Last week, constituents across B.C. hosted over 20 creative protests outside MLA [legislative] offices urging them to honor their campaign promises, while the Squamish Nation called for an immediate moratorium on all old-growth logging in their territory. Meanwhile, forest defenders continue to hold camp in Fairy Creek, where the Royal Canadian Mounted Police continue to enforce an injunction and have arrested 222 people so far. Although the Horgan government announced that it would honor deferral requests from Pacheedaht, Ditidaht, and Huu-ay-aht First Nations, it only addresses a fraction of at-risk old-growth forests in B.C. and leaves calls by other First Nations for immediate logging deferrals unanswered.
"It's time for the B.C. NDP to make good on its promise and stop dragging its feet on old growth," Tzeporah Berman, international program director at Stand.Earth, said in a statement. "With unprecedented media coverage, photographs of the massive trees going viral, and people around the world watching and speaking out, now is the time to act."
"Even though they promised to implement the recommendations from the expert panel, and scientists have clearly laid out what areas of at-risk old growth need to be deferred, the government has yet to stop the chainsaws," she added.
"Old-growth forests are essential hubs in vast interconnected networks. It is essential, for the health of the forest, and the health of our planet, that we do everything we can to keep them standing."
--Suzanne Simard, UBC forest ecologist
Wade Davis, an author and cultural anthropologist at the University of British Columbia (UBC), said in a statement that he "can't believe that after 40 years of talking about the need to conserve British Columbia's iconic forests, we are still logging these massive trees."
"We need an economy that doesn't come at the expense of these vital ecosystems," he continued. "That's why I'm standing alongside more than 120 other prominent luminaries to demand that Premier Horgan takes action to stop logging these irreplaceable forests and develop a 21st century economy."
Forest ecologist Suzanne Simard, also at UBC, added that "the immediate protection of the old-growth forests of British Columbia is absolutely urgent."
"Old-growth forests are essential hubs in vast interconnected networks," she said. "It is essential, for the health of the forest, and the health of our planet, that we do everything we can to keep them standing."
According to Stand.Earth, which is advocating for a province-wide ban on deforestation, authorities so far have only agreed to defer logging in areas that together comprise 2,000 hectares of old-growth forests, even though scientists recently identified 1.3 million hectares in need of immediate protection.
"The world watches in horror as British Columbia's government allows the destruction of remaining old-growth forest," tweeted environmentalist Bill McKibben, the co-founder of 350.org. "Time for John Horgan to do the right thing."
Those in the video ad stressed: "Not in three years. Not in three months. Today--right now."
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