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  • The “Blessed Unrest” and the public good

    We, meaning government, First Nations, communities, scientists, academics, non-government organizations, industry and citizens, must find a way to pool our collective efforts to responsibly steward the precious natural resources given to us.



    Logging on McLaughlin Ridge near Port Alberni (Photo by TJ Watts)


    BLESSED UNREST—that’s the name Paul Hawken gave more than a decade ago to the grassroots movement that was sweeping the world working in the name of environmental protection and social justice. Generally comprised of a loose collection of individuals or groups without a particular leader, it’s a movement that’s alive and well in BC. Citizens and communities are standing up to protect the last vestiges of intact ecosystems, the rights and culture of Indigenous peoples, wildlife habitat, salmon runs, old growth forest, clean water systems, and the transition demanded by climate change. It began 30 years ago with Clayquot Sound, yet here we are still trying to protect those places and rights that represent our very essence.

    Site C, Trans Mountain, LNG pipelines, abandoned oil and gas wells, the Wet’suwet’en land rights, Six Mountains, Fairy Creek, the Nuchatlaht land defense, Caycuse, Argonaut Creek, the Walbran, Avatar Grove, the Great Bear Rainforest (yes, they are logging that!), it is an ongoing and exhausting list. Activists are mounting legal actions, writing letters, signing petitions, raising donations, publishing articles, hosting webinars, lobbying elected officials—all pleading for a more respectful and responsible worldview. For the most part, it’s a call that has fallen on deaf ears at government levels. Government can wait out the expensive lawsuits and the cries of public outrage, then drag its heels on meaningful and substantive reform while continuing to meet with industry lobbyists. Environmental and social protectors don’t have a voice, no matter the stripe of the government.

    Often it comes down to talk of buying the specific tract of land to save it, but honestly, it is not a problem we can buy our way out of. This is especially true with Crown Lands, where public forests have been handed over to tenured industrial forest companies. Their primary goals are to maximize corporate profits and introduce technology to reduce the need for salaries, benefits, pensions and other pesky incursions into the profit margin, not community benefit and public good.

    We have created a competitive arena, but there is no denying those enormous amounts of money, time and labour spent could be put to better use to improve who and what we are as a responsible and inclusive society.  What it all comes down to is the public good. What is the government responsibility when it comes to stewarding our precious natural resources? Whose interest is best served? Why does profit take precedence over science? How can we develop frameworks that meet a variety of needs in a more balanced manner?

    The NDP has just won a majority government here in BC. During the campaign, they pledged themselves to the 14 recommendations contained in the Gorley and Merkel Old Growth Strategic Review Report. The report itself is generally well-received, but was accompanied by government’s deferral list of old growth sites that, upon closer scrutiny, proved less than substantive.

    Two possibilities come to mind to explain the lack of substantive response: either government thought BC forest experts would not catch on to the smoke and mirrors nature of the list, or there is a distinct lack of subject matter experts within government itself.

    Government has shown itself capable of relying on science as the overriding COVID-19 strategy—why not look to the science of forests, environment, social justice, climate change?

    Government must hold itself to the high standard of serving the public good. It’s time we all work together to treasure the precious resources we have for now and for generations to come. In the meantime, the Blessed Unrest will continue efforts to protect what matters to us as a caring society.

    Retired as an economic development policy analyst with the BC government, Kathy dedicates her education and experience to search for new ways to live within the parameters of nature. She serves as Vice Chair of the Ecoforestry Institute Society (Wildwood Ecoforest), Director with the Cowichan Family Life Association, Legal Strategist for the Fairy Creek peaceful protest, and CEO of Juniper Community Solutions.  

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    "Why does profit take precedence over science?"

    That's an essential question in our rapacious capitalist society.  It is also present in the precedence given to "The Economy" over people's lives in the pandemic.  Thousands are dead but the economy must come first. Medical experts plead for lockdowns that are denied over concern for business interests.  It is a universal problem in our society.

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  • Heres whats happening to BC forests

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    Take a quick tour of BC forests as seen from space.
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    1700 square kilometres of new clearcuts are created each year.
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    As you view these images, keep in mind what's on the ground that you can't see...
    4 / 27
    40 to 60 percent of the forest was left in the clearcut.
    5 / 27
    This is near Kelowna. Watch for the remaining patches of primary forest (circled).
    6 / 27
    This is near Peachland...
    7 / 27
    ...Haida Gwaii...
    8 / 27
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    10 / 27
    ...Prince George...
    11 / 27
    ...100-Mile House...
    12 / 27
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    ...Burns Lake...
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    ...Prince George (again)...
    17 / 27
    ...Shuswap Lake...
    18 / 27
    ...Alexis Creek...
    19 / 27
    ...Douglas Lake...
    20 / 27
    ...Cowichan Lake...
    21 / 27
    ...Williams Lake...
    22 / 27
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    ...Port McNeill...
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    ...Campbell River...
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    ...Francois Lake...
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    and west of Victoria. That's the tour, folks.
  • 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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