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6th September 2019
Adam Olsen Blog

Precautionary principle protects pricing system in B.C. forests

On Sunday, the Times Colonist published Judith Lavoie’s piece about old-growth logging on Vancouver Island. It was first published in The Narwhal a few weeks back.

The response from the public was powerful. Working the BC Greens booth at the Saanich Fair, I connected with a lot of people from across the Capital Region.

“What are you doing to stop this government from cutting old-growth?” This was a common question on Sunday. It was almost always followed by, “those pictures in the paper today are really devastating.”

Of course I’m paraphrasing, distilling the comments of dozens of people into a couple of examples. Nevertheless, this is the sentiment. People filled pages with their signatures and contact information while sharing their disappointment, disillusionment and dissatisfaction with the status quo.

Fixated on pricing

Even while the Amazon burns and the criticism of the Brazilian government’s destructive deforestation of the rainforest is front and centre, it’s mind-boggling to hear how our provincial government justifies destroying some of the oldest creatures on the planet.

A B.C. Timber Sales spokesperson said,

"Forestry practices are rooted in the precautionary principle and failing to auction off 20 per cent of the allowable annual cut would “put the integrity of the timber pricing system at risk.”

So let me get this straight, in British Columbia the precautionary principle is based on protecting the integrity of the pricing system? Please tell me this is a misquote. What is so sacred about our pricing system that we need to hack oxygen-producing, water-purifying ancients out of our pristine valleys?

The short-term thinking of government is magnified in the final paragraphs of the article as the B.C. Timber Sales spokesperson turns the attention on the jobs. It’s a common refrain that we heard on playback from the Minister last Spring: we have to protect bio-diversity while also protecting jobs.

This is an extractive industry and soon enough there will be nothing left to extract. The jobs they protect today will cease to exist. This exhausted narrative barely holds any credibility any longer. This is just an admission that the current BC NDP government has nothing else for these communities, just like the BC Liberal government before them. Business as usual.

Restoration of community and ecosystems

Rather than working with forestry-dependent communities to diversify their economies, the government is just holding on to the status quo, hoping to make it to the next electoral judgement day.

What we need more now than ever is a restorative economy. Following generations of neglect and destruction, there is a massive opportunity to invest in rebuilding, regenerating and rehabilitating nature. More on this in a future post!

We have scarred and wounded our landscape enough. It’s time for an era of healing our forests, creeks and streams. From what I saw and heard at the Saanich Fair this past weekend, there is a lot of support for that. However, it’s not just urban British Columbia that wants things to be different. As I have toured and listened to people across our province, I believe we all want the same thing: we want liveable communities with a healthy environment and animal population. It’s time for government to get on the same page!