8th February 2020
EDITORS NOTE: Below and attached is the presentation to the Old Growth Panel by SOFT- Comox Valley.
If you have any questions for the group, please let me know and I will forward you onto one of the Comox Valley group.
Below is their opening. The documents that are attached were given to the panel following their presentation.
Hello, my name is Megan Ardyche, and this is Dave Weaver. We’ve brought some supporters with us, but they won’t be speaking. We’d like to thank you gentlemen for giving us time to present to the Old-Growth Strategic Review Panel.
We are here as representatives of Save Our Forests Team - Comox Valley (SOFT), a community group who is concerned about old-growth forests, but is also concerned with broader issues including reconciliation with First Nations, global heating, and a sustainable economy with a safe and thriving future for our children for generations to come. We have a number of supporters for whom we are also speaking, and we are leaving you with a letter signed by many of those supporters. As well, we are leaving you with a thumb drive of both our presentation and references/resources beyond our presentation
We would appreciate if you allowed us to get through our presentation without asking questions. Please feel free to note your questions down as we’re speaking, and we’ll be happy to answer questions at the end. Thank you.
Will you be doing a territorial acknowledgement?
We respectfully acknowledge the Indigenous people on whose traditional territory we have gathered. We acknowledge the descendants of the Coast Salish peoples whose historical relationships with this land continue today.
For thousands of years Coast Salish Peoples have called this place their home. They gave the rivers, creeks, villages and the mountains their first names. They recognized the land possessed a spirit of its own – one of generosity, beauty and plenty.
It is in this spirit of generosity, we invite you to remember the people and territory on whose land we meet and do this work.
Dave will be giving the opening statement & presentation format. Dave, over to you.
At the time of European contact, this land was neither traded, gifted or sold, nor was it conquered through war. Those methods - trading/gifting/selling or conquering are the only methods recognized by international law, since 1648, as a way to change ownership of land. (Footnotes are appended.)
Instead, the Doctrine of Discovery was conjured. That doctrine has been primarily used to support decisions invalidating or ignoring aboriginal possession of land in favour of colonial or post-colonial expansion.
The representatives of the Crown made treaties with some Indigenous First Nations. However, there are relatively few treaties in BC, and so this land - both what we call Crown land and that which is now privately owned - in fact still belongs to the First Nations who were here for millennia before Europeans came.
For those First Nations whose land this is, old-growth trees were an integral part of their culture and survival for those millennia. This wasn’t uninhabited or untracked wilderness, this was the back yard, the garden, the source of resources for the Indigenous people.
Reinforcing the truth that most of BC territory was never ceded by the First Nations, nor conquered by the Europeans, we also have the Supreme Court’s decision in the Delgamuukw case, that hereditary ‘ownership’ of the land rests with the hereditary chiefs and their houses/nations. The BC government’s recent passing of the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (DRIPA) recognizes and acknowledges that. And we know that issue is not going away.
So, the cultural value of old-growth trees to First Nations is one reason there should be a moratorium on old-growth logging. Concomitant with that is the fact that most of the land the trees are (or were) on still belongs to the First Nations.
So, we know the old-growth forests have historical and cultural value for First Nations. But they also have cultural value for settler residents of BC and for the world at large. BC’s tourism slogan is Super, Natural British Columbia. The tourism site states, and I quote:
“British Columbia’s untamed nature speaks to the soul. Our vast landscape inspires introspective personal journeys and unbridled adventures. Our people connect explorers with unexpected moments that renew the human spirit. Our cities, set on the doorstep of the wild, make it easy to step further into nature and explore the endless possibilities of the outdoors.” End quote.
The site also purports that BC is the (quote) “Place where Nature is Nurtured.”
“From massive mountain ranges and windswept beaches to rain forests overflowing with life, BC’s cities and towns share a deep connection to the wild that surrounds them.” End quote.
Of course, all of that is less and less true. There is less area where nature is nurtured in BC.
The cultural value old-growth trees have for people from around the world is evidenced in the BC government’s own marketing of this province, and Dave will be giving you some of the economic figures associated with tourism. But the cultural value that BC is selling - a place where nature is nurtured - is another reason there should be a moratorium on logging old-growth forests. The destruction of the productive old-growth forests and their concomitant ecosystems will decimate the tourism value of BC. Salmon are directly affected; Orcas are directly affected; bears are directly affected. Many other species - both large and small - are directly affected. And once it is all gone, humans will be massively affected because all of these systems are interconnected, and we are part of all these systems. And that leads me to ...
I’m sure you’ve heard many statistics from other people about the crucial role forests in general, but particularly old-growth forests, already play in our ability to deal with the consequences of climate change.
Right now, in this one area of old-growth forests, we have a perfect storm of factors. A perfect storm is an event in which a rare combination of circumstances drastically aggravates an event: for example, clean water, First Nations issues, biodiversity, thriving communities, and long-term jobs are all factors. But the unavoidable factor that will manifest in all those areas is the consequences of climate change from global heating. Thus, a perfect storm.
We know there is an urgent need to remove carbon from the atmosphere and reduce emissions at the same time. In BC, the best way to remove carbon on a large scale and then store it safely for a long time is to not harvest healthy, mature forests of long-lived species.
Even though forestry is by far the biggest source of carbon emissions in BC, and even though the Ministry of Environment does record emissions from forestry operations, [it] does not apply them to the province’s total emissions.
I’m sure you’ve heard a lot of science from other presenters. Our governments purport to make decisions based on science. But the VALUES that are reflected in the policy and regulatory decisions our governments make show us their true colours, so to speak.
Our government seems to act out of one value only - that of endless economic growth through the vehicle of maximum profit for private corporations based on the timber value in forests.
Contrary to the moving words of BC Tourism, another government agency, BC Assessment, tells us explicitly that, for the government, forests have no value other than timber. BC Assessment tell us that, quote, “The calculation of managed forest land assessments is based on a two-step process:
The land’s capability to grow, harvest and deliver trees to market and;
The value of the trees on the land when harvested
This assesses the land as a forest value which is not influenced by other...forces. The land is valued based on forest [i.e. timber] use only and not based on any other potential use.” End quote.
SOFT would like the BC government to change its guiding values around old-growth from profit and growth to values which assure sustainable use and conservation. There are 11 resource values which we wish to have employed, and which the current BC government itself acknowledges are important.
Those values include:
biodiversity, * cultural heritage,
fish/riparian, * timber,
visual quality, * wildlife,
water quality, * resource features,
recreation, * forage and associated plants, and
We would like BC to truly become a place where “nature is nurtured.” Much work needs to be done to identify and map the remaining old-growth so it can serve us in all the myriad ways included in those 11 values I just named. Forests are a carbon sink. Forests are the lungs of the planet. Far from “drowning in a sea of trees,” as one retired Interfor executive recently said, we are going to drown in CO2. And this is yet another reason for a moratorium on old-growth logging.
The current government already knows all this. In 1989, the BC NDP, then in opposition, called for a moratorium on old-growth logging.
We have a copy of a letter, press release, and accompanying article that Dan Miller, then the BC NDP critic for Forests, submitted to the Legislature in 1989. Dave will reference this further later, but a key paragraph is: “We need immediate action. Specifically, we need a logical, technical approach to identifying and preserving old-growth stands.”
Oh, if only the current NDP would listen to themselves from back in 1989.
Well, maybe they did because in 2019, the BC NDP, then in government, engaged in two relevant consultations - the Forest and Range Practices Act (FRPA) survey, and the Private Managed Forest Lands Program survey. In its preamble/discussion to the FRPA survey, the government set out the values it was proposing be applied to Crown land. Those are the 11 values I just named. SOFT-CV would like to see those same values applied to private managed forest lands.
And I will point out that timber is only one of the 11 named values..
The government itself knows how important forests are in combating climate change consequences of global heating.
This is the government’s opportunity and the time to act on its responsibility vis-a-vis taking action on climate change, fulfilling some of its commitment to reconciliation with First Nations, preserving long-term jobs in thriving local communities with a focus on protecting and regenerating forests, and for bringing back people’s trust that our elected officials work in the best interests of our citizens and communities, rather than the best interests of private corporations.
The government itself already knows all it needs to know. Now it needs to act. Dave is now going to talk about the systemic changes we think are required.
Dave: Economics and Systemic Change
We’ve talked about the cultural values of old-growth forests to persons everywhere who come to enjoy our Super, Natural British Columbia. We’ve talked about trees being the lungs of the planet and the heart and soul of BC.
We’ve talked about the environmental values that need to take precedence over the timber value of old-growth trees. Throughout all that, we’ve called for a complete moratorium on old-growth logging.
We’ve talked about the economic benefits of preserving and revitalizing old-growth forests. Some of those benefits could accrue to logging companies who can change their focus from carbon-emitting logging to carbon-sequestering markets. Some of those benefits could accrue to communities and workers in the form of thriving, healthy communities. Some of those benefits could accrue to governments in the form of industry subsidies not being required.
continued in 6b) ...
Member of the Friends of French Creek Conservation Society
Comment by Robin Robinson on 14th February 2020
Kudos to the members of SOFT for a well reasoned, researched and concise presentation that addresses so many of the salient points of the Old Growth Forests issue.
I really like the idea of an elected board such as school boards..
Well done SOFT and thank you.