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    Fairy Creek blockade expands to protect rare old-growth forest near Victoria


    Saul Arbess

    Two weeks into a campaign to halt logging of ancient rainforests in the last intact watershed of the San Juan River system, activists have set up a third blockade on unceded Pacheedaht Territory.

    by Saul Arbess and Joshua Wright

     

    IN THE MIDST OF AN ONGOING CLIMATE EMERGENCY, logging of the ancient rainforests continues at an unfettered rate. The amount of old-growth forest logged each day on Vancouver Island is equivalent to 32 soccer pitches according to the Wilderness Committee. These forests are not only vital for carbon sequestration, but also fundamental for the integrity of complex, interconnected ecosystems that support keystone and culturally significant species, such as salmon. Alarmingly, less than one percent of largest stature forest was found to be remaining on the Island according to the scientific report BC’s Old Growth Forest: A Last Stand for Biodiversity recently authored by Dr Rachel Holt, Dr Karen Price and David Daust. And most of that is going at an accelerating rate on Vancouver Island, with an estimate of three years remaining before it is all gone, except the meagre areas that have been protected.

    Grassroots forest defenders from across Vancouver Island have prevented Teal Jones Group from blasting logging roads into the headwaters of the Fairy Creek watershed for the past two weeks. The road would have penetrated the last remaining intact, unlogged tributary in the entire San Juan River system. The tributary is near Port Renfrew on unceded Pacheedaht territory.

    Last Sunday, August 23, saw a second blockade established east of the Fairy Creek watershed. A third blockade was set up August 24 on a logging road on Edinburgh Mountain (also unceded Pacheedaht Territory).

    With the exception of Eden Grove on Edinburgh Mountain, contiguous old-growth corridors have been severed between the rich valley bottom and the protected upper reaches. The infamous Big Lonely Doug stands in stark contrast to the clear cut it stands in on Edinburgh, the sole remaining giant fir in the cut. Big Lonely Doug has become an internationally recognized symbol for BC’s devastating logging practices. Just up the mountain, logging is ongoing. This is what the newest blockade will stop.

    Zoe Cilliers, a forest defender at the blockade, says, “If we pick and choose where our actions line up with our words, our words don’t mean anything. I’m an ecologist; I work with kids, I teach them about old growth, I teach them the value of these ecosystems. Being here means keeping a promise. If I don’t stand for this, how can I stand behind what I say to these kids?”

    K.L, also at the blockade, states, “Anyone who wonders why people are blockading, they should go and spend some time in an old growth forest, and they will understand. It’s the mosses, the spongy floor, the smell, it’s the stillness, the spaciousness.”

     

    1265819614_FairyCreekoldgrowth.thumb.jpg.8f0ec73746711572ea1a159dc026353e.jpg

    Old-growth forest in the Fairy Creek Valley

     

    In April 2020, the BC government finalized its commissioned review on the current state of Vancouver Island’s remaining old-growth forests. The report has not yet been released to the public by the Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development who may sit on the report until October for reasons not understood, given the crisis in our forests. Meanwhile, old-growth logging persists; roads are blasted into pristine mountains; massive, ancient trees are falling. Time is of the essence. As protester J.C. says, “Once it’s gone, it’s gone for good. It’s short-sighted to be logging like this.”

    Gary Merkel, one of two Old Growth Strategic Review commissioners, said in an interview with the Narwhal, last January: “We’re managing ecosystems—that are in some cases thousands of years old—on a four-year political cycle. The management systems change from government to government.” 

    The demands for the Province from the forest defenders at the frontline of the Fairy Creek blockades are the following:

    (1) Immediately release the recommendations of the Old Growth Strategic Review, which have not been made public since the panel submitted its report in April 2020.

    (2) The immediate and permanent end of all old-growth logging in BC.

    (3) Work with sovereign First Nations to implement a comprehensive plan for a sustainable and restorative second-growth forestry model.

    Saul Arbess has been a forest activist since the late 1980s on southern Vancouver island and a retired professor of anthropology. Josh Wright is a forest activist maintaining a watching brief on old growth destruction across the Pacific Northwest.

    Learn more: https://www.youtube.com/embed/kBnhktwJIo4

     

     

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    Guest Brad Harris

    Posted

    Thank you for giving this long standing issue the much needed attention it deserves. Very grateful for your reporting.

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    Guest Ger Giguere

    Posted

     Convince the sitting government that this is the right thing to do and will not lose them votes , but gain them votes..this is the way to save these old growth forests . Convince them that saving intact eco systems is the way to start healing the lands .. Write the politicians . Insist that they release the report . Get rid of the rats nest that is B.C . Timber sales . They have been breaking their own rules for decades and are the ones putting many of these old growth cut blocks up for bid. They have roost over 20% of  the timber in B.C. and they care not one iota about conservation, preservation , or rules. Their one and only concern is to cut the government mandated amount of timber every year. It is a vicious circle ...John Horgan and ministers , do the right thing . Put an immediate moratorium on old growth logging.

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    5 hours ago, Guest Richard m said:

    What is the best way to support these crucial forest defenders? Where can I donate ?

     

    A recommendation to readers: Please contact Saul Arbess via this website if you would like to make a donation to help the blockades at Fairy Creek. Use the "Contact Us" button below.

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  • Old growth defenders share parody of Super, Natural BC promotional video

    DEFENDERS OF FAIRY CREEK’S OLD-GROWTH FOREST have created a video to highlight government hypocrisy. Super, Natural BC promotional videos continue to market a rosy picture of BC as a utopian nature paradise. At the same time, the government owned BC Timber Sales works to eradicate our irreplaceable ancient forests. 

    According to a scientific report published in April 2020—BC’s Old Growth Forest: A Last Stand for Biodiversity—less than one percent of BC’s forests have big trees. Just 35,000 hectares still contain ancient giants.

    In fact, in all of BC, the amount of this forest remaining is about the size of Surrey, Saul Arbess, long time forest activist, stated.

    With the full collusion of the BC government, logging companies are completing one of the biggest and most destructive projects on the planet: eliminating BC’s original forests. Reforestation is done with mono crop plantations, designed only to meet the needs of the forest industry. These tree plantations are disease prone. They cannot support healthy ecosystems or wildlife. They are more prone to wildfire.

    Ancient forests, which provide the best water filtration, most bio-dense life support, best carbon sequestration and effective forest fire prevention systems on the planet “for free” are being liquidated for short-term profit.

    As people consider how they will vote in the upcoming provincial election, this video is intended to help them compare TV ads with the truth.

    —Joshua Wright

     
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