The Battle For Old-Growth Forests In British Columbia

Over the last two weeks around 120 people have been arrested and charged, most with violating an injunction obtained by a logging company. But with more people streaming in by the day and the RCMP trying to secure an area the size of a small country, there’s no end in sight.

This is the latest from southwest Vancouver Island, which has become an international hotspot in the fight to save old-growth forests.

Last August, a group of environmental activists set up a series of blockades of logging roads deep in the bush surrounding Port Renfrew, B.C. Their goal was to preserve stands of old-growth in the Fairy Creek watershed, one of the largest and most significant ancient forests remaining in North America.

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Echoes Of B.C.’s War In The Woods As Fairy Creek Blockade Builds

British Columbia – Hundreds of activists are digging in at logging road blockades across a swath of southern Vancouver Island, vowing to stay as long as it takes to pressure the provincial government to immediately halt cutting of what they say is the last 3 per cent of giant old-growth trees left in the province.

The situation echoes the 1993 “war in the woods” in nearby Clayoquot Sound, which saw nearly 1,000 people arrested at similar logging blockades in the largest act of civil disobedience in Canadian history.

Tensions are rising. Just this weekend, the activists stopped a team of old-growth tree cutters — called fallers — from entering a logging area in the Caycuse watershed.

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‘This Is A War In The Woods 2.0’

Port Renfrew – “Activist headquarters” is an encampment just outside of Port Renfrew, Vancouver Island. That is where the fight to prevent 200 hectares of ancient old-growth forest from being cut down continues.

“We haven’t been served (with an injunction), no,” said Molly Murphy, one of the many people calling the encampment home on Monday.

The injunction was granted by the B.C. Supreme Court on April 1. It orders the demonstrators to take down the blockades that they had set up to prevent forestry company Teal-Jones from accessing its logging operation in the area.

“We’re waiting for Teal-Jones to serve the injunction and then the police need to enforce it,” said Murphy. “That’s kind of what we are waiting for.”

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Fairy Creek Blockade Demonstrators Call In More Protesters

The blockade has been in place since August 2020, organized in part by members of the Rainforest Flying Squad, to stop the logging company Teal-Jones from building a road into the Fairy Creek area and prevent old-growth logging.

Demonstrators say they are extremely disappointed with the decision, and that now is the last chance to save the area.

“This is the last stand, literally last stand of old-growth. Ninety-seven per cent of the forests of British Columbia are tree farms,” said Shambu.

“The last time trees were saved, it took how many arrests to make that happen [in the Clayoquot protests]?”

Protesters say due to the Easter weekend, they expect a big boost in numbers of around 150 people showing up by early next week.

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Government Offices Occupied Across Nova Scotia

Kjipuktuk (Halifax) – After 23 days Jacob Fillmore is ending his hunger strike in support of a temporary clearcutting moratorium on Nova Scotia Crown lands. He made the announcement during a well-attended rally at Province House, the third one in as many weeks.

“I am feeling increasingly weaker, especially mentally things are getting harder and harder,” he told an appreciative and grateful crowd.

This fight is far from over. As I take a step back folks across the province are stepping up,” he said. 

“If asking politely doesn’t work, we are not afraid to resort to peaceful nonviolent direct action. When I started my hunger strike, I was in despair. I saw the destruction of the environment happening around me and I could not figure out how to change it.

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The Fairy Creek Blockaders

Simon Frankson emerged from his sleeping bag at 4 a.m., just in time to join the fray.

The day before, a balmy afternoon in early August, he and about a dozen campers had studied a satellite photo of the area: a mountainside sheathed in deep green cedars and Douglas fir trees, many of them hundreds or thousands of years old, in a watershed known as Fairy Creek in the southwest corner of Vancouver Island. The telling grey stripe of a logging road was creeping up from the left side of the image. It was the same kind of road that has, over the past century, made way for logging companies to cut down 80 per cent of the ancient forest on an island larger than Belgium.

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British Columbia Urged To Protect At-Risk Old Growth Forest

The most at-risk ecosystems should be set aside from logging while British Columbia shifts its forestry policies toward a more sustainable system, says a forester who helped write a provincial report on old-growth forests.

The report last April co-written by Garry Merkel urged B.C. to act within six months to defer harvesting in old forest ecosystems at the highest risk of permanent biodiversity loss.

“There (are) some of those ecosystems targeted for harvesting right now,” he said in an interview this week, six months after B.C. released the report and pledged to implement the recommendations from the panel of two independent foresters who were commissioned to write it. “I do share the impatience of a lot of folks.”

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The Forest Occupation Movement In Germany

Since February 26, 2021, people have been occupying a forest near Ravensburg called Altdorfer Wald. A gravel pit is threatening the forest’s existence and some activists who had earlier built climate camps and tree houses in the inner city of Ravensburg decided to live in the forest to protect it. At the moment this occupation is not facing eviction.

On the day of the occupation near Ravensburg, all the way at the other end of Germany, police began the eviction of an occupied inner-city forest. In Flensburg, in October 2020, people had begun building tree houses and platforms to save the trees, which were slated to be cut down to make way for a hotel and parking deck. A matter of days before the end of the legal cutting season, the investors sent cold-blooded mercenaries with chainsaws to attack the trees despite the risk to activists.

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An Effective Low-Tech Way To Slow Climate Change

Protecting forests is an essential strategy in the fight against climate change that has not received the attention it deserves. Trees capture and store massive amounts of carbon. And unlike some strategies for cooling the climate, they don’t require costly and complicated technology.

Yet although tree-planting initiatives are popular, protecting and restoring existing forests rarely attracts the same level of support. As an example, forest protection was notably missing from the US$447 million Energy Act of 2020, which the U.S. Congress passed in December 2020 to jump-start technological carbon capture and storage.

In our work as forest carbon cycle and climate change scientists, we track carbon emissions from forests to wood products and all the way to landfills – and from forest fires.

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Scientists Demand Stop To Tree Burning As A Climate Solution

A group of over 500 international scientists on Thursday urged world leaders to end policies that prop up the burning of trees for energy because it poses “a double climate problem” that threatens forests’ biodiversity and efforts to stem the planet’s ecological emergency.

The demand came in a letter addressed to European Commission President Urusla Von der Leyen, European Council President Charles Michel, U.S. President Joe Biden, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in. The signatories—including renowned botanist Dr. Peter Raven, president emeritus of the Missouri Botanical Garden—reject the assertion that burning biomass is carbon neutral.

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Forest Service: Cutting Snags To Eliminate Endangered Species Habitat

It is an intentional act to seek out and cut large diameter dead trees to prevent them from becoming spotted owl and other endanger species habitat. Annual census of known spotted owl trees are conducted. Owls must be seen living in the trees. If the owls are scared off by nearby clear-cutting, road building, or the tree is downed, the habitat is delisted as critical and may now be clear-cut. If there are no potential habitat trees, owls are prevented from moving into an area.

This is an intentional act. Cutting large diameter dead trees is being conducted on gated locked Forest Service and BLM lands. Only staff and contractors can access these areas with vehicles. Not during clear-cuts, the trees are found, cut and left. Small diameter non-habitat trees are skipped.

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Many Overheated Forests May Soon Release More Carbon Than They Absorb

The last decades have been filled with dire warning signs from forests. Global warming has contributed to thinning canopies in European forests and to sudden die-offs of aspen trees in Colorado, as well as insect outbreaks that are killing trees around the world. In many places, forests are not growing back.

New research shows that Earth’s overheated climate will alter forests at a global scale even more fundamentally, by flipping a critical greenhouse gas switch in the next few decades. The study suggests that, by 2040, forests will take up only half as much carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as they do now, if global temperatures keep rising at the present pace.

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P&G Investors Challenge CEO Over Forest Destruction Concerns

Washington – In a shocking move by Procter & Gamble’s shareholders that defied the company’s own recommendations, two-thirds of Procter & Gamble (P&G) shareholders voted “yes” at the company’s annual meeting on Tuesday, October 13, to pass a proposal on forest sourcing and impacts. The vote is a clear indication that despite repeated insistence from company executives, the world’s largest consumer goods company is not doing enough to deal with the financial threats of deforestation and forest degradation in its supply chains.

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The New Faces Of BC’s Old-Growth Activism

Torrance Coste’s dusty Nissan XTerra disappears in a cloud of grey dirt. He’s checking out recent logging activity around Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park on southern Vancouver Island for the Wilderness Committee. I’m trailing behind, trying not to blow a tire, lose his taillights, or get run off the road.

Another logging truck smokes past — the eighth so far this morning. It’s stacked with old-growth hemlock and a red cedar at least a metre thick. A few minutes later, we’re stopped by a pile of tree carcasses blocking the road. Active logging. No entry.

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