BUGABOO CREEK, VANCOUVER ISLAND, July 16, 2021
Despite tinder-dry conditions and high to extreme fire-danger ratings throughout Vancouver Island, logging continues in the Bugaboo region near Greater Fairy Creek.
Satellite imagery shows that since Friday July 9, several hundred metres have been felled to provide road access for clearcut logging.
This old-growth forest is outside of the recently-announced deferral areas. Road building is the first step in the logging process and is extremely destructive, requiring the removal of trees before grading and levelling to make way for logging trucks. Roads have detrimental effects on wildlife, and also open forests up to poaching of trees and animals.
Early Wednesday morning a handful of activist protectors set up a pop-up blockade at the Bugaboo worksite. They began with six lines of rock and log walls across the road, then drilled arm holes into a large log that they locked themselves to. They began with 6 lines of rock and log walls across the road. Workers arrived on site around 5 a.m. and called police, who later extracted and arrested three people.
“This road-building is devastating a unique and spectacular ecosystem, abundant with ancient red and yellow cedars. About 4 km of roads have been approved through this irreplaceable old growth.” – said ‘Doghair’ of the RFS.
Rainforest Flying Squad forest defenders have remained at Fairy Creek to protect the region’s last ancient forests. In light of the high fire rating they have been diligent about their own activities. Camps have implemented strict protocols that include 24 hour a day fire-watch patrols, banning outdoor smoking, prohibiting campfires, and more.
“We’ve consulted with the Fire Marshall and are acting on those recommendations with fire mitigation policies, as well as fire response plans. We aren’t here to protect these rainforests, only to see them succumb to a wildfire,” says Kathleen Code, a member of the Rainforest Flying Squad who helped develop the fire protocols.
“Everyone recognizes the need to protect the forest from human impacts whether it is logging or fire,” she adds. “We have a responsibility. These conditions are driven by climate change. Clearing more trees will only make it worse.”
Forest defenders are questioning why logging and road building have not been stopped to reduce the risk of wildfires. The BC Wildfire Act and Regulation defines mechanical logging and land clearing as a high-risk activity. It’s common for logging operations to cease during risk of wildfire due to heavy equipment throwing off sparks.
“We’re concerned that in this early wildfire season, Teal-Jones is trying to log as much as possible before shutting down due to the fire danger. We’re worried they are downing trees and leaving slash piles that are tinder dry.” notes Carole Tootill, another RFS member.
Only 2.6% of these intact ancient old-growth rainforests remain in British Columbia. With climate change bringing increasingly dry summers, fire threat in the Bugaboo and surrounding areas also rises.
Outside BC, there is increasing interest in protecting old-growth forests in order to help mitigate climate change. Yesterday, US president Biden moved to restore protection of the Tongass National Forest in Alaska from road-building and large-scale logging of old-growth forests. Washington state also retains some old-growth forests as a method of sequestering carbon, called ‘pro-forestation’.