Old Growth Ecosystems Must be Protected Now, says Green MP Manly

NANAIMO – Green Party MP, Paul Manly is adding his voice to those calling for an end to road building and logging in the Fairy Creek watershed on Vancouver Island, BC. After visiting two blockades that have been set up to protest the logging of the last unlogged old-growth forest on Southern Vancouver Island, Manly is calling for a new approach to forest management.

Located northeast of Port Renfrew in Pacheedaht territory, Fairy Creek is the last unlogged old-growth valley on southern Vancouver Island, outside of provincial parks. Mr. Manly noted that a panel appointed by the B.C. government in 2019 was to provide recommendations for a new approach to old-growth management in the spring of 2020.

“The report has apparently been sitting on a desk at the B.C. Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations since April”, said Manly. “Delaying the release of these recommendations is disturbing, considering that the logging of old growth forests continues unabated during the interim. A moratorium on further logging of old growth forests should be implemented immediately, and remain in place until the report is released. 

“The public deserves to have accurate information as to the true remaining quantities of unlogged forests in BC that contain large old trees and old growth forest ecosystems. Canadians are in no position to criticize other countries or talk about protecting vital ecosystems such as the Amazon rainforest when we can’t manage to protect our own endangered old-growth ecosystems.”

Independent research released in April 2020 challenges the B.C. government’s claim that 23 per cent of the province’s remaining forests – 13 million hectares – can be categorized as old-growth forests. The study, which was conducted by B.C. ecologists who previously worked for the provincial government, found that only three per cent – 35,000 hectares –  of B.C.’s remaining forests actually contain large old trees. The B.C. Greens caucus has strongly advocated for protection of the province’s last remaining big tree old growth forests. In May 2019, the Party called on the provincial government to impose a moratorium on old growth logging on Vancouver Island, and to develop more sustainable forest practices.

“Forest management may be under provincial jurisdiction, but given the importance of forests in relation to carbon sequestration, protecting forest ecosystems is in the interests of all Canadians,” said Green Party parliamentary leader Elizabeth May (MP, Saanich-Gulf Islands). “The Species at Risk Act must be updated to apply to all lands and territorial waters in Canada. It must be enhanced to protect ecosystems, and be given the regulatory teeth to stop the destruction of the remaining old growth forest ecosystems. Old growth forests take thousands of years to develop and are far more than the sum of the organisms they contain. These are rare ecosystems that cannot be replaced by tree planting."

The Green Party advocates for the sustainable, selective harvesting of second and third growth forests, using that timber for value added, finished wood product manufacturing, maximizing employment for local workers and an end to shipping raw logs overseas. The Green Party also supports turning over management of these second and third growth forests to the First Nations whose territories they are contained in.

“The giant trees, mosses, lichens and animals contained in these old growth ecosystems are a legacy for humanity and the planet,” said Green Party Interim Leader Jo-Ann Roberts. “Sustainable logging practices protect jobs and forests at the same time, but clear-cutting giant old-growth trees needs to end now.”

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