Forest Minister Bell Flunks

wetland sustains robust forest

wetland sustains robust forest

“The Minister of Forests tried recently to fool British Columbians into believing that conserving 1,600 hectares of mature Coastal Douglas fir (CDF) forest would be an effective action to save that endangered forest ecosystem,” said Berni Pearce of the Arrowsmith Parks and Land-Use Council (APLUC). “Somehow, he forgot to mention the government-appointed Forest Practices Board, which stated in June of this year that the government had to protect, not an additional 1,600, but an additional 13,300 hectares in order to bring the CDF ecosystem from “high” to “moderate” risk of extinction.

“No one has even talked about achieving a status of “no risk for extinction”, said Pearce. “The most we dare to hope for is that the Forest Minister might move it to “moderate” risk. He could have done that by ending all CDF harvesting on the last remnants of Crown Land. But he chose to allow logging to proceed on DL 33 in Nanoose and has opened the door for destruction on all other pieces of Crown land CDF not included in their recently announced Land Use Order.”

Pearce accuses the Minister of merely ‘chatting’ about conservation while the crisis in the CDF unfolds away from the eyes of the public. “While he talks to the press about forest protection, he is allowing pieces of Crown land CDF like DL 33 to be logged. The Minister says that private landowners must help to save the CDF ecosystem, but the example he has set for them is this: “Say some fine words from time to time, but you don’t actually have to do anything effective.”

APLUC member Paul Grinder notes that private landowners own 80% of the CDF land base. Their conservation of the CDF forest is essential to the viability of the ecosystem. “But the government has no incentive program to encourage this and is failing in its own obligations on Crown land. It’s the provincial government which has the legal, fiduciary responsibility to effectively protect the ecosystems of British Columbia. It’s up to them to save the Crown land CDF and also provide a framework for conservation on private land. Where is the Ministry of Environment on this issue?”

“Minister Bell says there are a lot of demands on the few bits of Crown forest on the east coast of the island. But, what will he do after all the remaining Crown land is degraded by logging and other resource use? Will the demands suddenly stop? Or will they be met some other way? We can take these other alternatives before killing an ecosystem,” says Grinder.

Ronda Murdock of APLUC reports that over ten years ago, at considerable cost to taxpayers, the sensitive areas in the southern region of Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands were mapped in a joint project sponsored by Environment Canada, the Canadian Wildlife Service, and the BC Ministry of Environment, in the hope that these sites would be protected. DL 33 was included in that inventory. “Sadly, since that time, almost half of them have been logged or otherwise disturbed because of lack of will on the part of government” said Murdock. “Now the Forest Minister is allowing the loss of an entire forest ecosystem. It is shameful.” For more information call Paul Grinder 250-468-1714, Berni Pearce 250-248-8464, or Ronda Murdock 250-248-3667.