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  • Why I am on a hunger strike for old-growth forests of Fairy Creek

    Helena Kreowska

    THE FAIRY CREEK AREA, with its old growth and unique ecosystems, needs our protection. Thousands of people, not just from BC, but from all over the World know about old-growth logging in BC, and we want that logging to be stopped.

    There is only three percent of old-growth forests left in BC and this is a shame for all governments which allowed it.

    I am an independent 69-year-old professional, who has devoted all my life to respect and protect nature in every country, every place I lived.

    I am a Landscape Architect with great 6 years of European University education about role of nature in our lives. I have 2 years of plant physiology courses, which taught me about the biochemistry of plant cells.

    I know how they produce oxygen, without which no life on our planet can exist. Trees, shrubs and flowers are not only for esthetic purposes in our life, they give us Life, for free.

    I am also a nature interpreter for schools and the general public at Nanaimo’s Morrell Nature Sanctuary.

    As an independent citizen of Canada, I chose to start a hunger strike on June 2, 2021 without definite end. I devote this hunger strike to draw even more attention of the media, governments and public to the mindless devastation of the best gifts nature could give us: our forests, and particularly, old growth.

    On June 13, another group of concerned citizens will start their hunger strike in Vancouver. I hope we can make a difference.

    As is made clear by renowned scientists, among them our own Suzanne Simard (recent book: Finding the Mother Tree) and Germany’s Peter Wohlleben (book: Secret Life of Trees), trees create their own environment, ecosystems which allow millions of species, including humans, to live on our planet.

    Thousands or hundreds year-old trees are even more valuable for that ecosystem, but only when they are standing, growing, doing their job for the rest of nature.

    Young trees can’t survive very well without these Mother Trees. All these trees interact and connect through mycelium, a fungi connection that supports all forests’ life. We only started to learn about this recently.

    If old growth at Fairy Creek is destroyed, logged within a few months, there will be no return, no possibility to learn about it, to support our lives, to continue BC’s economy based on natural resources.

    Old growth is worth much more standing than cut down and changed to pellets or chips to send to Sweden—so they can pretend that they are reducing their climate pollution by burning them to produce electricity.

    Why are there so many trees in BC, yet so few businesses producing value-added wood products?

    Why do we export raw lumber ignoring the income to be earned and jobs to be generated by turning lumber to high quality products?

    Someone in the BC Ministry of Raw Log Exports needs to give their head a shake and craft whatever policies or tax regimes are needed to build a much stronger value-added wood products sector. Now, not in 100 years.

    We need a new framework to support a new sustainable economy. The old framework based on free market economics is one of the causes of our many problems. It ignores nature, ignores homelessness, poverty and the realities of power. The free market in housing has created spiralling housing price inflation alongside homelessness, lack of proper mental health care, and unaffordable rents. That has to be changed.

    We need a socially responsible market economy, not a selfish market economy, in which the only assumed purpose of business is to make money, regardless of the social and ecological costs.

    A vibrant, green economy should be constantly generating new businesses, both private and cooperative. The failure rate for new businesses is high, but when start-ups are supported by community economic organizations that provide training and peer-support, the survival rate increases. At the same time, government at all levels should encourage new businesses to become part of a circular economy of reusing, generating zero landfill waste and recycling wastes into new materials for reuse in the economy. That includes sustainable forest management like selective logging.

    There is a great place near Nanaimo to learn about it from professionals: Wildwood Ecoforest. So there is no excuse for governments and logging companies: there they could learn and transfer to sustainable logging, creating even more jobs.

    Kate Raworth is a British economist, whose book Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a Twenty-First Century Economist is well known already, causing a stir around the World. Her framework for economic development is like a doughnut, where the outer edge is the ecological ceiling, beyond which lie all sorts of ecological dangers, and the inner edge is the social boundary, beyond which people live in a world of poverty and injustice. “The safe and just space for humanity” lies within the doughnut.

    The City of Nanaimo has recently adopted this framework to guide all its development, joining Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Brussels, Portland, Philadelphia and many other fantastic cities.

    City of Nanaimo and City of Lantzville bravely joined recently the protest against logging old growth in the Fairy Creek area by voting yes to Councillor Ben Geselbracht's motion to formally oppose logging of at-risk old growth forest.

    The motion calls on the BC government to defer logging “in all high-productivity, rare, oldest and most intact” old growth forest including at Fairy Creek, to fund an “economically just” transition from unsustainable logging, and forward the resolution for debate at the next Union of BC Municipalities convention.

    “This is an unacceptable level of protection for the little that is left of such a globally valuable natural asset,” Geselbracht said. He said that his motion “is not against logging in general, but a request to preserve a small percentage of BC forests”.

    Now is the time for change, for shifting to sustainable, green economies, to protect as much precious land and old growth, so future generations can have a healthy living.

    Please note: I didn’t even mention “ornamental, esthetic” value of preserved forests for the touristic economy, which is also great in BC. People from over the world come here to enjoy pristine forests, old growth, waterfalls, and wildlife of our land and ocean. Because we professionals and scientists see the real value of standing old growth: for ecosystem, for diversity, for life-giving forces.

    This planet and nature do not belong to us. We humans belong to the planet and to nature. It is time to change our thinking and respect our nature.

    See Dispatches for more information on Helena Kreowska's hunger strike.

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    We have lost people on hunger stike in Ireland. The last time was 1981,when 10 men died on hunger strike in Long Kesh. I hope people understand how serious this is and it gets the attention it deserves. I am in awe of your courage.

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