Imtiaz Tyab / Al Jazeera & Rainforest Alliance – 2011-03-07 18:40:54
An Approaching Battle Looms over Canada’s ‘Avatar’ Forest
Imtiaz Tyab / Al Jazeera
(March 6, 2011) — It’s the battle to save ancient woodlands from a profit-driven corporation. That may sound like the plot of the hit movie ‘Avatar.’ But it is also the real-life story of a forest in western Canada earmarked for commercial logging, and the campaign to stop that from happening.
The Ancient Forest Alliance (AFA) is a new British Columbian organization working to protect the endangered old-growth forests of BC and to ensure sustainable forestry jobs in the province. It was founded in January of 2010 by former Western Canada Wilderness Committee activists Ken Wu, TJ Watt, and others, and by Vancouver old-growth activist Michelle Connolly.
The AFA is calling on the BC Liberal government to:
* Undertake a Provincial Old-Growth Strategy that will inventory the old-growth forests in BC and protect them where they are scarce (ie. Vancouver Island, southern Mainland coast, southern Interior, etc.)
* Ensure the sustainable logging of second-growth forests, which now constitute the majority of forest lands in southern BC.
* End the export of BC raw logs to foreign mills in order to ensure a guaranteed log supply for BC mills and value-added processing facilities.
* Assist in the retooling and development of BC coastal sawmills and value-added facilities to handle second-growth logs.
* Undertake new, democratic land-use planning processes to protect endangered forests based on new First Nations land-use plans, ecosystem-based scientific assessments, and climate mitigation strategies through forest protection.
The Ancient Forest Alliance will:
* Work to inform and mobilize the general public and key stakeholders to protect ancient forests and forestry jobs. An educated and active citizenry asserts the ultimate lobby pressure on governments.
* Retain the right to support or criticize all levels of government â€“ federal, provincial, regional, municipal, First Nations – based on their environmental policies in regards to ancient forests and forestry jobs.
* Work within the law.
The Ancient Forest Alliance:
* Defends the intrinsic value of all ecosystems and species, including people, to flourish for their own sake within the context of ecological harmony.
* Supports First Nations rights and title interests.
* Support environmental policies that also entail practical economic solutions and substantial support for the thousands of forestry workers in BC.
The Ancient Forest Alliance will:
* Explore and document endangered ancient forests, record-sized heritage trees, and areas destroyed by old-growth logging.
* Educate the public through the media, online tools, our own publications, and through direct interaction.
* Research and explain to the public government policies and the science surrounding BC’s forests.
* Organize public forums, slideshows, rallies, protests, hikes, campouts, petition drives, and letter-writing campaigns to build widespread grassroots support.
* Build alliances with potential allies and non-traditional allies.
* Empower, train, and support local activists to build campaigns in their own communities, particularly in provincial swing ridings.
* Meet with key government decision-makers to inform and engage with them about BC forest policies.
Why protect old-growth forests?
Old-growth forests are important because they:
* Are home to a large array of biodiversity, including many species at risk that need old-growth forests and that can’t flourish in younger forests.
* Counteract climate change by storing two to three times more atmospheric carbon per hectare than the ensuing second-growth tree plantations that they are being replaced with.
* Provide clean water for people, spawning salmon, and wildlife.
* Are fundamental pillars of BC’s multi-billion dollar tourism industry.
* Are important parts of many First Nations cultures.
How can we sustain forestry jobs at the same time?
The vast majority of forested lands in southern BC are now second-growth, including about 80% of the productive forest lands on BC’s southern coast. A full transition into only logging second-growth forests is inevitable when the last of the unprotected old-growth forests are logged out.
For the sake of future generations, we need to make the transition into a second-growth, value-added forest industry soon, BEFORE we eliminate the remaining unprotected old-growth forests. By logging second-growth stands at a slower, more sustainable rate of cut, and manufacturing more wood products here in BC — rather than increasing the export of raw logs to foreign mills — we can protect old-growth forests and sustain and create forestry jobs at the same time.
Why create the Ancient Forest Alliance now?
The Ancient Forest Alliance will fill the void from the dismantling of most of the Victoria chapter of the Western Canada Wilderness Committee (WCWC), which will be losing its Victoria-based old-growth campaign, three forest campaigner positions (Campaign Director, Forest and Marine Campaigner, Campaign Assistant), store front, and website. The void in the local ancient forest campaign — which to be effective in Victoria requires local campaigners who know the local areas and are in touch with the local citizens â€“ is one reason for the formation of the Ancient Forest Alliance.
In addition, the Ancient Forest Alliance will not seek charitable status, and thus can be substantially more effective in levelling stronger criticisms and stronger support of politicians and political parties based on their stances in regards to ancient forests and forestry jobs.
We are a new organization (founded in January, 2010) that greatly needs your support!
You can reach us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
We also GREATLY need financial support at this time. We promise your funds will be used very effectively â€“ bang for your buck, your support will go further with us than with virtually any environmental organization in this country.
As we are a non-profit organization but do not have charitable status, we cannot issue an official tax receipt for your donation.
Ancient Forest Alliance
706 Yates Street
PO Box 8459
Victoria, BC V8W 3S1