WATCH: People concerned about the logging of old-growth forests in B.C. rallied at a number of MLA offices on Wednesday. They’re calling on the government to ban the logging of old growth forests. But as Kendall Hanson reports, the government says such a move would be very harmful to the industry.
A gathering in front of NDP MLA Doug Routley’s constituency office in Nanaimo was one of several anti-old-growth logging protests across the province on Wednesday.
The demonstrators delivered letters to the MLAs, signed by 20,000 British Columbian’s, demanding that old growth logging stop.
“This is crunch time and it’s our kids future that’s at stake and the biodiversity of this planet,” said Nina Rastogi, a Ladysmith resident.
In Nahmint Valley, on Vancouver Island’s west coast, old-growth stands of timber are currently being cut.
The Sierra Club says old growth forest types with very big trees cover just 6.5 per cent of Vancouver Island.
The province says there are 840,000 hectares of old-growth on Vancouver Island, of which 520,000 hectares will never be logged but those concerned say the current rate of logging is alarming and unsustainable.
“That’s about 34 soccer fields per day and people don’t realize it but this is in fact on Vancouver Island a faster rate than is happening in the Amazon rain forest,” said Rastogi.
The concerns were echoed at another rally in front of Liberal MLA Michelle Stillwell’s office in Parksville.
“And there’s no reason to be cutting this down,” said Joanne Sales, a Parksville area resident. “It is much more valuable for eco-tourism and for us to be able to study these old growth forests because they’re not coming back, with climate change being what it is.”
The government says ending old-growth logging would shut down the forest industry, as the lumber from old growth is used to make value-added wood products.
It says the coastal forest sector employed 24,000 direct jobs in 2017 but those wanting a ban on old growth logging say the government is just not doing enough.
“Very disappointing that a promise was made 18 months ago to switch to a more sustainable type of forestry and that has not been kept. There has been no noticeable change,” said Rastogi.
The demonstrators say if the province doesn’t stop old-growth logging it will lead to dire consequences for future generations who won’t be able to replace what’s being lost.