Fallen Mothers
June 25, 2021: If decisions to protect old growth forests aren’t made until 2023, will there be anything left to protect? That is the question Rainforest Flying Squad (RFS) is asking, following the province’s announcement that an Old Growth Technical Advisory Panel has been appointed. The two year timeline means hundreds of hectares of old-growth forest could disappear before the panel is able to develop a strategy for old-growth management. With numerous studies already pointing towards protection as the optimal solution, RFS continues to stand as the last line of defence for these rare old trees.

“Really there has been enough research to demonstrate that all remaining stands of old growth forest need to be protected and in fact provide greater benefits overall when left standing. The important work of this panel won’t be about if they will be protected, but how best to protect them,” says Kathleen Code, Rainforest Flying Squad organizer. “Work should begin immediately to transition away from old-growth logging while the panel develops strategies to move forward.”

RFS supporters were enthusiastic about an Ancient Forest Alliance report, released this week.The Economic Valuation of Old Growth Forests on Vancouver Island studied forests around Port Renfrew, including Fairy Creek and concluded net economic benefit is higher when the trees are left standing than if they are logged.  The study was conducted by ESSA Technologies Inc., an environmental consulting firm based in Vancouver.

ESSA Technologies Inc. compared the net economic benefits of logging old-growth trees to the net economic benefit of leaving forests with large trees standing. From the report:

“For the full protection scenario, we found that society would be better off by $97 million (2018 CAD, net present value) if trees older than 140 years were fully protected, and $90 million if trees older than 250 years were fully protected.” On the British Columbia coast, trees older than 250 years are classified as old-growth.”

Logging has continued in the areas adjacent to Fairy Creek since the two year logging deferral was announced on June 9. Logging has been ongoing in an area downslope from the ridgeline of Fairy Creek, near 2000 Road. All six cut-blocks in Caycuse have been logged — an area of over 35 hectares that can be clearly seen in satellite images.

“The Old Growth Technical Advisory Panel is an excellent panel with an excellent mandate. It’s composed of well known and respected scientists and they will make excellent recommendations. But it follows another excellent panel with an excellent mandate, the Old Growth Strategic Review Panel, that made excellent recommendations,” says Andy MacKinnon, forest ecologist, professional forester and professional biologist (retired). “There hasn’t been much will demonstrated to implement those recommendations. What is needed is a commitment to implementing the panel’s recommendations, otherwise it’s just stalling.”

About Rainforest Flying Squad

The Rainforest Flying Squad is a volunteer-driven, grassroots, non-violent direct-action movement committed to protecting the last stands of globally significant ancient temperate rainforest on Vancouver Island.  Rainforest Flying Squad and LastStandforForests work with other like-minded organizations. We stand in solidarity with Elder Bill Jones of the Pacheedaht Nation. More information at: laststandforforests.com.

The full report Economic Valuation of Old Growth Forests on Vancouver Island can be found at https://www.ancientforestalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Economic-Value-of-Old-Growth-Report.pdf

Information about the Old Growth Technical Advisory Panel can be found at https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2021FLNRO0043-001225

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