MOST PEOPLE in British Columbia have learned by now of the big commotion happening at the Fairy Creek Watershed on Vancouver Island near Port Renfrew.
Blockades have been erected to block the logging of old growth trees in one of the last remaining forested areas that is home to trees as old as 800-years.
There’s more to them than their impressive size. They are strong allies in our fight against climate change, and they provide essential habitat to many species that have called these old growth forests home for thousands of years.
And yet, economically speaking (and not in a broad sense either), they are worth money and that trumps their invaluable long-lasting presence in the forest. There is a B.C. court injunction that has ordered the removal of the blockades so that the logging company Teal Jones, can resume the logging of the old growth trees in the immediate area and the Fairy Creek Watershed.
So far, 137 people on the blockades have been arrested and you’d think that would deter others from joining, but the exact opposite has been happening. More people are showing up for support and that makes the matter that much more complicated.
To be clear: people who have put up these blockades are not against logging. They are protesting and protecting old growth trees from logging.
The ‘mother trees,’ as UBC Forest Ecology professor Suzanne Simard, author of ‘Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest’ (Deckle Edge, May 2021), refers to them, are supporting life in ways that we are beginning to understand better – from the way they communicate through complex fungal network, to protecting young trees and later on, when they start dying, providing an environment that is helping the ecosystem thrive. With that comes the immense responsibility of protecting these giants rather than falling them for money.
Yes, logging is employing many people in British Columbia and helps them provide for their families, but it doesn’t have to be the old growth giants that they log. There are many second growth forests and there are forestry specialists ready to provide advice on sustainable selective logging over the destructive clearcut logging.
Planting new trees is great, but tree monocultures are hardly a replacement for the complex ecosystem that an old growth forest is.
The provincial government has made promises regarding the clearcut logging of old growth forests last year after a report they commissioned concluded that we have less than three percent of these places left in our province.
And yet, here we are today watching in disbelief as the RCMP is arresting the very people who are trying to remind us of these promises our provincial government made a year ago.
Moreover, media access to the blockades has been restricted by the RCMP present on site which does not reflect in any way the commitment to ensuring the democracy-obliging freedom of press.
Today at 2 p.m. Premier John Horgan will do a live stream to talk about policies regarding our forests. Will old promises be renewed and kept this time? Will these trees receive yet another sentencing via new policies that ignore the fragility of a future that does not include taking care of our environment?
That climate change is real cannot be debated anymore. Though not always front and center in our daily news, there are stories unfolding in the background that ought to have us concerned and actively working at securing a better future.
This is not the first time that people have tried to stop the industry from exploiting parts of the natural world that should be left intact. The sad and shocking part is that after everything we have learned about our environment and the need to protect it, the people who are most willing to remind us of it are the ones that are being punished for trying to do so.
It’s high time we have our elected government change that.