April 4, 2021

Forest defenders are protecting monumental cedars from imminent destruction in the Caycuse Valley within traditional territory of the Ditidaht First Nation. Early this morning falling crews arrived with saws on trucks to continue work in a new clearcut, they were peacefully turned away.

A groundswell of activism is growing in BC. Last weekend saw 1000 citizens attend a rally in front of the Legislature calling for the protection of old-growth forests.

Over the past two years the BC government has overseen the eradication of a large area of rare biodiversity forest and the destruction of some of the largest trees in British Columbia, many in the Caycuse Valley.

“These ancient, coastal rainforest trees, growing in fertile valley bottoms, are among the biggest on the planet,” said Joshua Wright, a spokesperson for the Rainforest Flying Squad. “It’s a huge betrayal.”

The NDP committed to a ‘paradigm shift’ in the way the province manages old growth, which would prioritize ecosystems and biodiversity, he explained. “Instead they are continuing to grant logging approvals and auction off cut-blocks in some of the province’s rarest ancient forests like those in the Caycuse.”

“It is so short-sighted,” said Carole Tootill, another member of the RFS. “We are squandering these huge trees, during a time when the world desperately needs their incredible efficiency at sequestering carbon.

“Not only that,” she added, “but these areas filled with monumental, awe-inspiring trees could also have been magnets for eco-tourism. Instead of only providing a few jobs this year, to cut them down, move and process them, they could have been the basis for sustainable eco-tourism jobs and businesses that would be there year after year, into the future.”

Tootill noted that before-and-after shots in media coverage of this logging have sparked local and international outrage.

Several BC cities recently requested the government move quickly to implement the strategic review’s recommendations. These include Powell River, Port Moody, Nanaimo and Victoria. In recent years, most of these cities have also declared a state of climate emergency.

At Caycuse forest protectors discovered active felling of ancient trees during the Easter weekend. They quickly erected a barrier to prevent more logging. The blockade cuts off access to six approved cut-blocks in the heart of the watershed’s last valley-bottom old growth forest.

“Enough is enough,” said Will O’Connell, another member of the RFS. “The people need to take a stand for these forests because the government clearly won’t.”

In last fall’s election campaign, Premier Horgan promised to implement all recommendations of the old growth strategic review it had commissioned.

The report called for immediate deferrals in at-risk old growth forest within six months. Yet Minister of Forests Katrine Conroy, has said it will take “years” to implement the strategic review’s recommendations.  She has refused to meet with the protesters defending Fairy Creek.

“It’s just more ‘talk and log,’” said Tootill, one of three RFS members who represented the group in a recent court proceeding. It concluded April 1 and granted logging company Teal Jones an injunction against blockades in its Tree Farm License 46.

“And there is so little left — less than 1% of our forest base had big old-growth trees a year ago,” she added. “Nearly all of them will be gone within a few years.”

A video edited by Joshua Wright explains the situation in the valley: https://www.facebook.com/105347037953728/videos/766836184037059

Activists and lobbyists are calling on Premier Horgan and his government to keep their election promise: to implement the recommendations of the old growth strategic review, and to immediately defer logging in the Caycuse Valley and all other at-risk old-growth forests.

“It’s high time they keep their promise,” said O’Connell.

This is the first confrontation with industry after the BC Supreme court injunction and arrests are expected. But forest defenders say they will not back down until the area is saved.