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The BC Liberal Government's "Log it All" and "Export the Logs" Plan PDF Print E-mail
Earth News
Thursday, 15 November 2007 14:08
The BC Liberal Government's "Log it All" and "Export the Logs" Plan:

Ken Wu - Implications of the "Coastal Forest Action Plan" for
Vancouver Island's and the Lower Mainland's Old-Growth Forests
and BC's Forestry Jobs.

On October 29, 2007, the BC Liberal government announced a new
plan for BC's coastal forests, the "Coastal Forest Action Plan"
(see http://www.for.gov.bc.ca/mof/coastalplan/).

The crux of the plan is to speed-up the logging of second-growth
forests on public (Crown) lands, dropping the harvest rotation
age from 75 years down to an average of 50-55 years. Rich
Coleman, Minister of Forests and Range, is spinning the plan as a
"shift" away from the logging of old-growth forests to
second-growth forests, which the Wilderness Committee has been
advocating for years, albeit at a sustainable rate.

http://www.wildernesscommitteevictoria.org/
No New Restrictions on Old-Growth Logging

However, in reality the plan places no new restrictions on the
logging of old-growth forests. Without actual restrictions and
concrete timelines to reduce and phase-out old-growth logging on
Vancouver Island and in the Lower Mainland where old-growth
forests are scarce, the plan is little more than PR. Without new
restrictions, timber companies will not only log the
second-growth forests, but also continue to log the old-growth
forests, in particular the largest, high-value species - red and
yellow cedars, and any pockets of the rare, ancient Douglas firs
and Sitka spruce they can find.

These species are the largest, most magnificent of the old-growth tree species in BC.
The War in the Woods since the 1980's has precisely been fought
over focal stands of these giant species:  the ancient redcedars
of Meares Island, Clayoquot Valley and Walbran Valley; the
ancient Douglas firs of the Elaho Valley, Elk Creek, Chilliwack
Lake, Cathedral Grove, and Koksilah Valley; and the ancient Sitka
spruce trees of the Carmanah Valley, Walbran Valley, Windy Bay,
Tsitika Valley, and Clayoquot Sound.

It is true that increasing the harvest of second-growth Douglas
fir and redcedars could shift logging away from the smaller,
lower value old-growth species, that is, western and mountain
hemlock and amabalis fir (ie. "balsam"). However, the
government's plan also entails searching out new markets for and
increasing the economic viability of logging these species by
developing new products.

In short, as it stands the BC government's new Coastal Forest
Action Plan is simply a "log it all" policy for the old-growth
and second-growth forests of Vancouver Island and the Lower
Mainland.

First Nations and Small Business Logging of Old-Growth Forests?

In addition, the plan indicates that the government intends to
establish new logging tenures for First Nations and smaller
logging operators on Crown lands. Judging by the government's
history of funneling First Nations' logging interests into the
most contentions areas - in critical old-growth spotted owl
habitat in the Lillooet Valley, on top of the popular Elk Creek
Hiking Trail near Chilliwack, on the Echo Island viewshed of
Harrison Hotsprings - it's looking likely that the BC
government's intent will be to direct new First Nations and small
business logging tenures into some of the most contentious
remaining old-growth forests. The blame for any such new
controversies will be placed squarely on the shoulders of the BC
Liberal government.

Misleading Old-Growth Forest Statistics

The BC government's plan also rationalizes the continued
liquidation of the scarce old-growth forests of the southern
coast (Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland) with misleading
statistics. The report states that "old-growth forests are in no
danger of disappearing" and that only 769,000 hectares of over 4
million hectares of old-growth forests on BC's coast are
available for logging.

They fail to mention that the vast majority of the 4 million hectares
are low-productivity forests with smaller trees (ie. bog forests, stunted
trees on rocky sites, subalpine snow forests) that generally cannot be
logged economically, or are in protected areas in the northern
rainforests (Central and North Coasts and Queen Charlotte Islands
where land-use negotiations between environmentalists, First
Nations, and companies have resulted in much more extensive
protected areas) but that have nothing to do with the scarce and
endangered southern old-growth forests of Vancouver Island and
the Lower Mainland where only 6-8% of the productive forests
(old-growth and second-growth) are protected.

Satellite photos from 2004 showed that on Vancouver Island, 73%
of the original, productive old-growth forests had been logged,
including 90% of the valley-bottoms, 87% of the South Island
(south of Port Alberni), and 99% of the eastern Coastal Douglas
Fir Zone old-growth. In contrast, only 6% of Vancouver Island's
productive forests (old-growth and second-growth) are protected
in its parks, with another couple percent under tenuous
protection in old-growth management areas and Wildlife Habitat
Areas. See maps and stats at:   www.viforest.org

The situation is similarly dire in the Lower Mainland, where over
three-fourths of the old-growth forests have been logged, which
has caused the spotted owl population to plummet from over 1000
individuals at one time, to 18 individuals today.

Increasing the Logging of Rare, Deciduous Rainforests

The plan also proposes to increase the harvest of deciduous
rainforests (ie. hardwoods), which would be ecologically
destructive to the rare black cottonwood and bigleaf maple
ecosystems which tend to be geographically constricted to larger
rivers and streams and have very little protection in the parks
system. BC's giant coastal black cottonwoods are Canada's
largest deciduous trees - not only can they grow to
towering heights, but their trunks can grow 10 feet (3 meters) in
diameter, as wide as the largest Douglas fir in Cathedral Grove.
Old-growth bigleaf maples are Canada's mossiest trees,
festooned in curtains of hanging mosses and ferns. Very little is
known about the ecology of temperate deciduous rainforests, and
currently there is very little public awareness about these very
rare ecosystems. Every effort should be made to ban logging of
old decidous cottonwood and bigleaf maple rainforests.

A New Coastal Old-Growth Plan Yet to Come?

Earlier this summer, in an interview with the "Times Colonist"
(June 21, 2007), Minister of Forests Rich Coleman mentioned that
another plan that would place restrictions on old-growth logging
that would be released "well after" the Coastal Forest Action
Plan. Here's the quote:

"The [Wilderness] Committee is calling on government to
completely phase out all old-growth logging on the Island by
2015. Coleman said yesterday the protection of the massive trees
measured by the Committee 'would be something we would look at.'
But any details on specifically what old growth on the Island
will be protected or harvested won't be available until well
after his Coastal Recovery Plan is released."

However, since the release of the Coastal Forest Action Plan
(previously termed the "Coastal Recovery Plan"), the government
has made no mention of any subsequent plan. The Wilderness
Committee is awaiting a response from the Minister Coleman on
whether or not there will be a subsequent plan.

Coleman did state to the "Times Colonist" on Oct.30 that at
present, old-growth logging accounts for about 70 per cent of the
total coastal harvest, with second-growth at 30 per cent, and
that, "We'd like to see the percentages probably reversed within
five years." That is, Coleman has stated that he favours a 40%
reduction of old-growth logging in 5 years on BC's coast  - not
fast enough, but if entrenched in law would be an important step
forward, particularly if targetting the scarce old-growth forests
of the southern coastal region.

A new Coastal Old-Growth Strategy is needed

The Wilderness Committee is adament that there must be a
subsequent Coastal Old-Growth Strategy for Vancouver Island and
the Lower Mainland. The Wilderness Committee is calling on the BC
government to enact a timeline of mandatory restrictions that
will reduce and phase-out old-growth logging by 2015 from
Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland where old-growth forests
are scarce.  Satellite photos show that three-fourths of the
productive old-growth forests in these regions have already been
logged - most of the forests are now second-growth. In addition,
in these regions the Wilderness Committee is seeking immediate
old-growth logging closures in all low elevation valley bottoms
(90% already logged), on the South Island south of Barkley Sound/
Port Alberni (87% already gone), on the east side of the Island
(96-99% already gone), and in all 300,000 hectares of habitat
needed for the survival and recovery of the spotted owl as
identified by the BC government's own science team in 2004.

Raw Log Exports and BC Forestry Jobs

In BC, dozens of sawmills and pulpmills have shut down since
2001, throwing thousands of BC forestry workers into
unemployment. Meanwhile the export of raw logs to foreign mills
in the US, Japan, and South Korea have gone through the ceiling.

Two-thirds of raw log exports from BC come from private lands
that are outside of Tree Farm Licenses (TFL's). The government's
Coastal Forest Action Plan ignores these lands, and instead
raises the taxes by varying amounts (to a maximum 20% tax) on raw
log exports coming from public (Crown) lands and private lands
inside of TFL's, which contribute one-third of the raw log
exports leaving BC. Minister of Forests Rich Coleman estimates
that the tax will reduce raw log exports from these lands by
one-half - that is, by only one-sixth of the total logs exported
from the coast.

However, at the same time, increasing the rate of cut of young,
small-diameter second-growth forests will result in a massive
number of logs which BC sawmills have not been retooled to
handle, thus making them available for export to foreign mills.
In addition, the government's plan will allow for a massive
increase of raw log exports from Crown lands in the Queen
Charlotte Islands. To top it all off, since 2004 the BC
government has removed 120,000 hectares - an enormous area of
productive forest lands - from their Tree Farm Licenses on
Vancouver Island and the coast, most recently 28,500 hectares of
Western Forest Products' lands, thus opening the floodgates for
raw log exports from those lands. Therefore, as a whole, the BC
government's policies will lead to an overall increase in raw log
exports, to the detriment of the current and future employment of
BC forestry workers.

What Kind of Future do We Want?

It's still possible to create a future where:

- Our last, beautiful ancient forests on Vancouver Island and the
Lower Mainland still tower, to provide homes for all their
wildlife, to provide clean water for salmon, to continue to
sequester carbon from the atmosphere to counteract climate
change, to provide exceptional recreational and tourism
opportunities for local people and visitors from around the
world, and to remain as an important part of the foundation for
many First Nations cultures.

- Our second-growth forests are logged and managed sustainably so
that they can age and produce higher quality wood and larger
timber volumes, provide clean water for local communities
and spawning salmon, and some stands can eventually become
home for old-growth dependent species currently trapped in
old-growth "islands".

BC's forestry jobs are secured through a guaranteed log supply
for local mills and value-added wood manufacturers by banning raw
log exports. The BC government could assist in the development of
second-growth processing facilities through tax-shifting in order
to stimulate investment in a second-growth industry and retool
mills away from using old-growth logs. An extensive wood
manufacturing industry and sustainable second-growth logging
could ensure that a large, unionized workforce with high safety
standards thrives on BC's coast once again.

Let's MAKE it HAPPEN! WRITE a NEW LETTER and TAKE ACTION!

The BC Liberal government has been taken so far - through the
letters, protests, petitions, and actions of thousands of people,
including many of YOU - that they've stated that they intend to
shift logging away from old-growth forests. While at this point
this is largely a public relations manoeuvre, it sets the goal
post closer so that we can hold them to their stated goal by
pushing for concrete, legally-binding timelines to ensure a full
transition is completed soon on Vancouver Island and the Lower
Mainland. So it's VITAL that we keep PUSHING!

WRITE a letter and get involved in the events and activities of
the campaign (visit www.wcwcvictoria.org and www.viforest.org )!
NOW, more than ever...

If you've previously written, please WRITE AGAIN, in light of the
government's new plan!

Let the BC government know whether or not you believe that:

- The new Coastal Forest Action Plan is highly flawed as it
entails no new restrictions on old-growth logging, and as such
will ensure the continued liquidation of the largest, rarest,
high-value ancient trees - red and yellow cedar, Douglas fir, and
Sitka spruce. However, Forests Minister Rich Coleman has stated
that he would like to see old-growth logging decrease by 40%
across the entire coast in 5 years - any reductions, however,
must be made legally-binding.

- It's vital that the BC government devise a new Coastal
Old-Growth Strategy that implements mandatory restrictions with
concrete timelines to end old-growth logging on Vancouver Island
and the Lower Mainland, where three-fourths of the productive
old-growth forests are now gone, and only 6-8% of the productive
forests (old-growth and second-growth) are protected in parks.
- Second-growth forests should be logged sustainably.
- Raw log exports should be banned on both private and public
lands.


Write and Phone:

Premier Gordon Campbell  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it   (250)387-1715

Rich Coleman, Minister of Forests and Range
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it (250)387-6240

Just as importantly, your own provincial Liberal or NDP MLA if
you live in BC, who you can find by going to:
http://www.leg.bc.ca/mla/3-1-1.htm

Be SURE to include your home mailing address!

ALSO, sign and circulate our petition at www.viforest.org

Visit www.wcwcvictoria.org for a list of upcoming events and
news!

THANK YOU for taking decisive actions for the world's most
beautiful forests!

For the Wild,

Ken Wu, Joan Varley, Jessi Junkin, Mike Feld
Wilderness Committee - Victoria office

-------------------

Join 70,000 Canadians and become a member or donate to
the Western Canada Wilderness Committee, Canada's
largest grassroots, membership-based wilderness
protection organization. Donate online on the left side
of our website www.wcwcvictoria.org

Western Canada Wilderness Committee
Victoria Office and Rainforest Store
651 Johnson St., Victoria, BC V8W 1M7
250-388-9292 (phone)
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it (email)
www.wcwcvictoria.org (Victoria)
www.wildernesscommittee.org (Vancouver)

Please SIGN our ONLINE PETITIONS at:
www.bcoilslick.org
www.okanaganpetition.org
www.viforest.org
Last Updated on Thursday, 15 November 2007 14:08
 

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