I watched the recent exchange between Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau and Forests Minister Conroy. Furstenau asked if the government would implement the recommendations of the Gorley-Merkel old growth report and immediately protect high risk old growth, specifically Fairy Creek. Minister Conroy responded that there was lots of old growth left and protecting old growth would result in job losses.
I challenge the logic of both of Minister Conroy statements.
First any old growth number needs clarification. List it by productivity class ie poor, medium or high capability to grow big trees. And the number needs leading species as well. I understand that Fairy Creek is yellow cedar. By any measure yellow cedar, a most beautiful tree with sacred wood, is scarce in BC. The third measure is location and amount. For example, scattered remnants irregularly distributed around the province would indicate problems.
And it is not jobs vs old growth. Job losses per cubic meter are due to mechanization and show steady decline. Plus if the wee amount of old growth asked for will result in job losses then there is serious sustainability problem and AACs are too high (which they are). And it can’t be argued both ways: “we have sustainable AACs” and “the little old growth retention proposed will seriously jeopardize that”. If it is really about jobs then do more about jobs—Guaranteed Livable Income etc.
I would like to add some thoughts on todays Fairy Creek court ruling. The BC Supreme Court judge is right: this blockade is unlawful protest. But blockades occur when other avenues are inadequate. There is no mechanism by which a harmful harvest can be stopped—not by the forest district manager being able to disallow cutting permits in the first place or even really refusing forest stewardship plans. So people have few real avenues remaining. The Forest and Range Practices Act is a problem.
Eventually, I hope this protest results in the FRPA being replaced. So, as the judge states, the bigger issue of minimizing ecosystem integrity loss province wide will be mitigated.
Judy Thomas, RPF.