Stop felling Canada’s centuries-old forest giants for lumber!

Clear-cutting of coastal rainforest on Vancouver Island, British Columbia This is the scale of what’s being lost. (© TJ Watt - Ancient Forest Alliance) A black bear climbing a tree, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada A black bear climbing a tree on Vancouver Island, British Columbia (© TJ Watt - Ancient Forest Alliance) A felled tree in the coastal rainforest on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada A felled tree on Vancouver Island, British Columbia (© TJ Watt - Ancient Forest Alliance)

The temperate rainforests of British Columbia are one of the rarest ecosystems on the planet, but that’s not stopping Canadian loggers: 90 percent of Vancouver Island’s ancient giants have already been felled. Tell British Columbia's provincial government of to stop the destruction and protect the remaining primeval forests.

Call to action

To: BC Premier John Horgan; Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Doug Donaldson

Stop the felling of ancient giants and protect British Columbia's temperate rainforests.

Read letter

Canada is synonymous with endless forests, clear lakes and snow-capped mountains. It’s hard to imagine that these magnificent landscapes could be threatened. Yet Canada’s most ancient forests are in danger: the previously untouched temperate rainforests of Vancouver Island are being destroyed at a rate of three square meters per second – that’s over 10,000 hectares a year.

Nothing is safe in the path of the loggers’ chainsaws – not even centuries-old, 80-meter Sitka spruce, Douglas fir and western red cedar trees. The clear-cutting of the coastal rainforests is destroying complex ecosystems and the habitat of bears, wolves and salmon. The population of marbled murrelets, a seabird that nests in old-growth forests, has already collapsed.

“When these primeval forests are cleared, they are gone forever,” says Jens Wieting of the environmental NGO Sierra Club BC. Second-growth trees are felled after only a few short decades, which does not give the natural biodiversity of the original forests a chance to recover. Climate change is putting the forests under additional pressure.

The full extent of the destruction was brought home in 2014 when pictures of “Big Lonely Doug” were published – a towering, solitary Douglas fir left standing in the middle of a clear-cut area.

Great Bear Rainforest north of Vancouver Island is a model for the conservation of large forest areas. More than three million hectares of forest were protected there in 2016. Canada's indigenous First Nations played a key role here.

Please tell the provincial government of British Columbia to put an end to the clearing of coastal temperate rainforests and the felling of its giant trees NOW. These majestic trees must not be sacrificed to short-sighted business interests.

Back­ground

Canada’s forests cover an area of more than 347 million hectares. Only Russia and Brazil have more forest.

Only 6.9 percent of Canada’s forests are protected, including 0.1 percent as “strict nature reserves”.

Coastal rainforests in temperate latitudes cover less than one percent of the earth’s surface. They can store more than 1,000 tons of carbon per hectare – a record value.

“Old-growth forests” are generally defined as forests that are more than 250 years old and have never been exploited commercially. They therefore have many of the properties of primeval forests, such as structural diversity.

Vancouver Island is a hotbed of forest degradation

Vancouver Island, which is roughly the size of the Netherlands or half again as large as Wales, is a central link in the world’s largest temperate rainforest area, stretching over several hundred kilometers from the Great Bear Rainforest to the Olympic National Park in the US state of Washington.

According to a study by Sierra Club BC, nearly half of the original rainforest areas on Vancouver Island and on the south coast of British Columbia are so severely impacted that typical plant and animal species are in great danger. The share of primary forest there has fallen to below 30 percent. Less than one percent remains of some ecosystems – yet they are often not protected. In addition to logging, the forests face droughts, storms, insect infestation and wildfires – all of which are worsening as the climate changes.

Canada’s timber exports are on the rise

In 2016, Canada exported timber and wood products worth C$34.4 billion; trade with the United States accounted for C$23.8 billion, China C$4.8 billion and Japan C$ 1.4 billion.

Between 2015 and 2016, Canada’s timber exports increased by 5.3 percent. The export of softwood lumber increased by as much as 17 percent and timber panels by 21.6 percent.

British Columbia has increasingly been exporting unprocessed logs, closing down sawmills and reducing the number of jobs in forestry.

In summer 2017, the business-friendly Liberal provincial government of British Columbia was voted out after 16 years. The new government of Premier John Horgan has pledged to work for nature conservation and environmental protection.

Further information

Sierra Club BC:

Save the last old-growth rainforest of Vancouver Island

Twenty-five international environmental organizations call for urgent action for Vancouver Island's rainforest and communities

Old-growth logging rate will lead to collapse on Vancouver Island

Vancouver Island and South Coast Rainforest at high ecological risk

Sierra Club BC's new Google Earth tool shows Vancouver Island old-growth in state of emergency

Get a copy of "Vancouver Island's Last Stand" newspaper

The personal website of Jens Wieting

Times Colonist:

Loss of old-growth faster than for tropical rainforest: Sierra Club of B.C.

Vancouver Sun:

Vancouver Island's rainforest and communities need urgent action

Sierra Club calls for a moratorium on old growth logging

Business Vancouver:

B.C. raw log exports to Asia soar

Natural Resources Canada:

The state of Canada's forests report

Letter

To: BC Premier John Horgan; Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Doug Donaldson

Dear Premier Horgan,
Dear Minister Donaldson,

British Columbia’s coastal rainforests define Canada’s image the world over. The primeval forests with ancient giants that soar to a height of 80 meters are one the rarest ecosystems on the planet and an attraction for visiting nature lovers.

Yet these forests are in great danger: the temperate rainforests of Vancouver Island are being destroyed at a rate of three square meters per second, or more than 10,000 hectares a year. 90 percent of the giant evergreens have already been felled.

Please do not allow coastal rainforests and other old-growth forests to be completely and irreversibly destroyed.

We ask you to impose an immediate moratorium on the logging of intact forests in hotspots such as Central Walbran and other valuable areas on Vancouver Island and the mainland.

Please adopt forest protection legislation for British Columbia, based on the experience gained in Great Bear Rainforest, as soon as possible. Ensure that the largest possible forest areas are protected.

We call on you to respect the rights of the First Nations and strengthen them by protecting the forests, rivers and lakes and developing alternative sources of income that do not rely on logging.

Protecting British Columbia’s coastal temperate rainforests to the south of Great Bear Rainforest would be an environmental milestone that would garner worldwide acclaim.

Yours faithfully,

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