On February 6, environmental activists organized by Sierra Club BC and LeadNow delivered a letter demanding old-growth forest protections signed by 20,000 of the province’s residents to BC Environment Minister George Heyman’s office in Vancouver. The same letter was also delivered to the office of Premier John Horgan.
“The letter is calling for immediate steps and for an old-growth protection act, or a similar solution to make sure we protect the remaining intact old-growth areas and endangered ecosystems,” Jens Wieting, Sierra Club B.C.’s senior campaigner, said in a statement.
“We need to safeguard remaining intact old-growth and the life support systems we all depend on before it’s too late.”
Dozens of activists rallied outside of Heyman’s office, demanding restrictions on the logging of old-growth forests in Vancouver Island. Logging restrictions have been put into place elsewhere, like parts of the Great Bear Rainforest.
“These ancient trees provide some of the best carbon sinks on the planet,” said Jolan Bailey of LeadNow. “In today’s rapidly changing climate, if we cut them down, they will never return as we knew them. Now is the time to act.”
Temperate rainforests, like those found in British Columbia, have some of the greatest carbon storing capabilities in the world, even more so than tropical rainforests.
“One thing we can do here in B.C. is to set a strong example of old-growth protection that respects Indigenous rights and title while creating new jobs and improving second-growth forestry,” said Wieting. “The Great Bear Rainforest Agreements showed solutions for healthy rainforests and healthy communities are possible.”
But the demand for old-growth forest protections aren’t being celebrated by everyone.
“A moratorium would have a major economic impact,” said David Elstone, the executive director of the truck Loggers Association. “People would be out of work, communities would suffer, you would create ghost towns. We don’t want that.”
The TLA says they are transitioning away from harvesting in old-growth forests, but that the transition could take decades, even upwards of a century.