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LETTER: Province must protect old-growth forests before it’s too late

The overwhelming majority of British Columbians believe that the last vestiges of our ancient forests should be protected, and understand the vital role all forests play in ecology, affecting water quality, climate change, biodiversity, floods, landslides, marine life…

Greater Victoria Acting Together represents 28 organizations whose tens of thousands of members are deeply concerned about the fate of forests in B.C.

The Forest and Range Practices Act, which put industry in the driver’s seat of forestry policy, recently underwent a long-overdue revision. Despite addressing some key considerations, the legislation kept the proviso that protection of biodiversity, habitat and hydrological function of soil must not “unduly reduce the supply of timber.” Industry, not forest, is protected.

By shifting from raw log exportation to value-added industries we could employ up to 32 times as many people per cubic metre of timber, allowing reduced harvest, expanded economic benefit and greater employment.

An estimated 1,200 protestors opposing old-growth logging were arrested in 2021. They saw no alternative. In B.C., no legal framework exists for defending nature. Panama has enacted a Rights of Nature Act, guaranteeing the right of nature to “exist, persist and regenerate.” We could use that here in “Beautiful British Columbia,” where resource extraction is so well defended.

Change takes time, they tell us. But if we continue to quickly log while we slowly implement change, there will be nothing left to protect.

Jane Welton, Amalia Schelhorn, Eric Doherty

GVAT Climate Justice Team

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