People dress as stumps protested old-growth logging at B.C. MLA Mitzi Dean’s constituency office on March 19. (Photo courtesy of Joan Rosenberg)

People dress as stumps protested old-growth logging at B.C. MLA Mitzi Dean’s constituency office on March 19. (Photo courtesy of Joan Rosenberg)

Protesters in View Royal stumped by MLA

Group calls for immediate halt to old-growth logging

People protesting old-growth logging are stumped by the provincial government’s refusal to impose a complete ban on the practice.

About 20 people, many dressed as tree stumps, staged a protest on Friday, March 19 outside of the office of B.C. MLA Mitzi Dean on Admiral’s Road in View Royal. Dean, the B.C. Minister of Children and Family Development, is the MLA for Esquimalt-Metchosin.

They are calling on the B.C. government to stop all logging of old-growth forests and to implement the recommendations of an independent panel on old-growth forests in the province.

Joan Rosenberg, part of a group involved in the protection of the Fairy Creek Watershed, said they have reached out to Dean numerous times without a response. Dean campaigned in 2017 in part on a promise to protect old-growth forests, and that was part of the NDP platform as well, Rosenberg noted.

RELATED: Blockade launched to save Vancouver Island old-growth

The province has jurisdiction over old-growth logging and the allowable cut, Rosenberg said. “They campaigned in April 2020 on a promise to follow the recommendations in the old-growth strategic review.”

A New Future for Old Forests – A Strategic Review of How British Columbia manages for Old Forests Within its Ancient Ecosystems was submitted to Doug Donaldson, B.C. Minister of Forests, Land, Natural Resources Operations and Rural Development, on April 30, 2020 by co-chairs Al Gorley and Garry Merkels.

Gorley is a professional forester with 45 years of experience in government and consulting work. Merkel is a member of the Tahltan First Nation and a registered professional forester with more than 45 years in the field, academic research and community aspects of forest and land management. Find the review online at engage.gov.bc.ca/Strategic-Review.

Although it would be difficult to implement all 14 recommendations in short order, the review provided short, medium and long-term goals, Rosenberg explained, including the immediate cessation of cutting trees more than 500 years old. “Instead the government is doing log and talk,” she said. “They are logging every day while they continue to talk, and the old-growth ecosystems are disappearing. We are trying to continue in a sustainable way that supports the wood industry and the loggers but protects old-growth forests.”

Rosenberg, who is a doctor and a biologist, noted that Premier John Horgan has followed expert advice during the COVID-19 pandemic and he should do the same regarding forests.

“This paradigm shift in the logging industry requires similar,” she stressed. “It will require sacrifices but ultimately will save the wood industry.”

RELATED: Fairy Creek protesters gather at Victoria courthouse

Dean said everyone deserves to have their voice heard, and she supports the right to peaceful protest.

“Our government is deeply concerned about protecting vital old-growth stands. That’s why we asked two respected foresters … to put us on a path to create a comprehensive plan for old-growth, and away from the divisive valley-by-valley fights of years past,” Dean said.

As a first step, the government deferred logging in nine areas around the province, building on other deferrals made since 2018.

Dean said an immediate moratorium on old-growth logging would put thousands of families at risk.

“We also know that no change to forestry practices would have negative environmental impacts,” Dean said. “Our plan will protect vital habitat while still supporting workers and communities.”


 

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