A new poll, commissioned by Sierra Club BC, found that 92% of British Columbians want old growth forests protected. 842 people were asked “Do you support or oppose taking action to defend endangered old-growth forests in BC?” 69% of the respondents said it was “very important” to them; 23% replied “moderately important.”
BC Government Amending Forestry Laws
The B.C. government is currently amending the Forest and Range Practices Act (FRPA).
“Making changes to the Act is essential to strengthen government’s oversight of the forest sector and to restore public trust in how our forests and range lands are managed. We also need to make sure FRPA is positioned to help the Province adapt natural resource management to the effects of climate change. This work supports modernization of land use planning, renewal of forest policy province-wide and improvement of wildlife management and habitat conservation. It also advances reconciliation with B.C.’s Indigenous nations communities,” writes Doug Donaldson, BC’s Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development.
Talk And Log Approach Not Good Enough
Sierra Club BC climate campaigner Jens Weiting says this “talk and log” approach is not good enough.
“Across the province, close to one Stanley Park’s worth of old-growth forest is cut down every single day. We must close loopholes and increase protection of endangered old-growth in existing forestry laws, to leave a legacy for future generations. A new old-growth panel is no substitute for immediate conservation of the most endangered old-growth forests before they’re destroyed.”
An Industry Response
” … 55 per cent of remaining old-growth forests, 500,000 hectares, are protected on Vancouver Island alone and will never be harvested. Ever. There are also millions of hectares of old growth tress protected on the B.C. Coast. These crucial facts are often ignored in the articles and arguments intended to pressure the government to end old-growth logging.”
“There have been ongoing suggestions the forestry industry needs to transition from old-growth to second-growth harvesting. This is a completely unrealistic demand. A moratorium on harvesting old-growth would deal a deadly blow to Vancouver Island’s forestry economy. From 2012-2017, about 47.7 per cent of the harvest was from old-growth trees. Ending old-growth logging on Vancouver Island would shut down four sawmills, a pulp mill and lead to thousands of jobs lost.”
Processing Our Own Logs
Some critics respond by pointing to statistics like the 5.1 million cubic metres of unprocessed timber that British Columbia exported in 2018. Our biggest trading partner is the United States, but significant numbers of those raw logs were also sent to China and Japan.
“British Columbians believe that B.C. workers and the communities they live in should be first in line to benefit from our natural resources, and for too long government policies encouraged exporting logs even when there were local mills that couldn’t get access to fibre,” writes Donaldson.
“Not all of the reason, but part of the reason (for log exports) is there was no domestic demand,” Elstone told the Vancouver SUN.
An Online Poll
Sierra Club BC hired Mario Canseco of Research Co, to conduct an online study of public opinion. Canseco has been conducting public opinion research since 2003 and has a proven track record from federal and provincial/state elections in Canada and the United States. He gathered data from September 25 to September 28, 2019.
“The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region in British Columbia. The margin of error—which measures sample variability—is +/- 3.4 percentage points, nineteen times out of twenty.“
Broken Down Into Geographic Regions:
There is widespread support for the protection of old growth forests across British Columbia:
- the Fraser Valley (97%),
- Metro Vancouver (93%),
- Southern BC (90%),
- Northern Vancouver Island (87%),
- Southern Vancouver Island (83%)
- and Northern BC (also 83%).
The following reasons were given:
Respondents gave the following reasons for protecting old growth forests:
- “old-growth forests capture and store carbon from the atmosphere, which helps defend our communities from the extreme weather that is caused by climate change” – a sentiment shared by 85%.
- “old-growth forests give us clean water and help clean the air” – 84%.
- “for the beauty of the landscape” – 83%.
- “old-growth forests protect communities from droughts, flooding and
- landslides worsened by climate change” – also 83%.
- “salmon depend on old-growth forests for their spawning habitat” – 80%.
- and “old-growth forests provide excellent places for recreation and tourism” – 79%.
Stop Logging Old Growth Forests
“British Columbians care deeply about the endangered old-growth forests in this province, and want to do more to defend them. The climate crisis means the provincial government must put the brakes on the rapid logging of endangered old-growth forests. We can protect big old trees and have sustainable forest jobs into the future, but only if we act quickly to increase protection and improve forest management.” says Sierra Club BC’s campaigns director Caitlyn Vernon.
Top photo credit: A birds eye view of the forest in Nootka Sound – Troy Moth