There is a beautiful forest on the west side of the highway in Nanoose Bay, B.C. - 160 acres (64 hectares) of Crown Land called DL33, for which our government issued a cutting licence to the Nanoose First Nations in 2010.
After being undisturbed for the last 90 or so years, and being identified as among the rarest ecosystems in the world, this special forest was logged. It was like an oasis in the desert since the sensitive ecosystem all around it, being on private land, has been clearcut for miles.
Less than 9 percent of this precious ecosystem is on fragmented parcels of Crown land. The government has the power to protect it. And yet it has decided to protect only a few parcels totalling 1600 hectares under the recent Land Use Order, and has capped CDF lands with some protection at 6%. Beautiful forests like DL33 will cease to exist.
We were heartbroken to see a large part of DL33 cut down, but now we are focused on preserving the remainder of this stand, and any remaining Crown CDF forest, particularly mature growth.
So it was good news when B.C. Timber Sales' Forest Stewardship Plan Amendment to the South Island Natural Resource District East and Southwest Coast was approved in January 2013. This Amendment included two important commitments (on page 25): that BCTS will not harvest within the CDFmm (approximately 600 hectares) in their jurisdiction, and that there will be no timber harvesting in DL33 outside of the current cut permit. Lissa Alexander of The Parksville Qualicum News documents this on March 21, 2013: Forest Protected until 2017.
In the last several months there has been such a spate of criticism over the government's management of our forests that it appears the outrageous and wilful ignorance of the importance of DL33 in preserving this endangered ecosystem for future generations is just one of many bad decisions. It seems that the new "results-based" direction of the Forest & Range Practices Act which absolves the government of much of their control over, and responsibility for, our forests isn't working.
On February 16, 2012 the Office of the Auditor General of BC issued a scathing report on the government's management of our forests, saying
“The audit found that the ministry has not clearly defined its timber objectives and, as a result, cannot ensure that its management practices are effective. Furthermore, existing management practices are insufficient to offset a trend toward future forests having a lower timber supply and less species diversity in some areas. Finally, the audit found that the ministry does not appropriately monitor and report its timber results against its timber objectives.”
Previously at the Western Silviculture Contractor's Association AGM in Kamloops, the issue of NSR (not sufficient restocked forests) was discussed and the assertion made “that the area of inadequately restocked or reforested land in British Columbia is today larger than at any point in the history of forest management in the province” (From an op-ed in the Tyee by Norm Macdonald). Charges and counter-charges over actual numbers flew thick and fast. It seems nobody really knows as up-to-date inventories don't seem to be available.
Then on February 17th Stephen Hume wrote in the Vancouver Sun about another report by four retired professionals, whose research shows that the Ministry of Forests has been so gutted of personnel and funding that BC's renewable resources are at risk. He quotes the report "We believe that the picture created by this report is a matter of serious concern and is not generally known by government, the resource sector, the professional associations, or the public," and concludes “Renewable resources and their management are critical wealth-generators in B.C.'s economic well-being.Yet the study shows convincingly that the provincial politicians to whom we delegate stewardship of these assets have permitted renew-able resource management to deteriorate dangerously.”
And on February 22 Gordon Hamilton writes in the Vancouver Sun about a report released on February 20th by the ABCFP, stating “B.C. forest inventories are so far out of date that the foresters' professional association is questioning whether provincial forestlands can still be managed sustainably.”
Vaughn Palmer wrote on February 28 in the Vancouver Sun “Forest Service has seen better days as it marks its 100th anniversary” that forest revenues don't even cover the cost of running the Ministry. What a sorry state of affairs in this our “Beautiful BC”!
On March 12 two professors, Lewis and Simard tackled forest management in BC in an op-ed in the Vancouver Sun, stating:
“Keeping our forests healthy is critical for our survival. History has repeatedly shown that societies that steward their forests thrive, whereas societies that exploit their forests to the point of collapse soon follow suit. In B.C. we are on the latter path, and these fears have been verified in recent reports.”
Their views on holding government accountable, Transforming Forest Management in BC and the sorry state of our public forests today is well worth reading.
And now, government is apparently considering keeping mills operating in the Interior which are affected by the pine beetle kill, “by raiding forested areas that have long been protected. Scenic corridors, set aside for tourism value; wildlife range that provides winter habitat and migration routes, and rare groves of old growth are all being eyed as potential sources of timber.” Mark Hume tackles this on April 1st in the Globe and Mail, Politics trumps reason as B.C. eyes bid to raid protected forests and you have to wonder if the government will consider this course of action anywhere the wood runs out. At the accelerated pace of logging in the last several years on Vancouver Island, this will surely happen. Of course, this would only be a temporary measure, as these protected areas will also run out. So now we're looking at the end results of the government's “scorched earth policy”. It seems they are treating renewable resources as mines, and when they're mined out, they're done.
This troubling trend continues into 2013, including another scathing Auditor General's report in February, this time on the failure of the government to conserve and protect biodiversity in our forests. The only good news came when public outcry led to the government withdrawing Section 24 of Bill 8 on March 12, 2013, which would have authorized TFL rollovers, giving corporations private property rights over public forest land.
It really is time for everyone in Beautiful BC to wake up, and DEMAND change. We can only hope it isn't too late.
Logging began in earnest the week of November 28th, and the animals who live in this beautiful old forest began to run in fear. An elusive herd of eight Roosevelt elk were captured on video by a concerned neighbour, who along with everybody desperately appealing to the government to preserve this special forest, is devastated it is actually happening NOW.
For almost two years, residents and conservation groups staved off the chainsaws but time ran out!
On the morning of November 9th, the first veteran hit the ground with a terrific thunk. Those of us present to hear were heartbroken. We had tried everything from bringing two Forest Practices Board complaints, a formal complaint to the ABCFP, applications for DL33 as a Wildlife Habitat Area, resolutions from the Regional District of Nanaimo and the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities, pleas to the Forests Minister and the Premier - all to no avail.
We were a small group, but on November 9th, as we found ourselves inside the falling area, amongst the screaming chainsaws and horrific sounds of large trees hitting the ground, the logging contractor decided to call it a day. Word spread and the next day a larger group turned up to show their support for preserving DL33, and again logging operations stopped.
For the next few days these mushroom pickers in DL33 prevented the further destruction of this red-listed magnificent forest, but the Supreme Court of B.C. on November 25, 2011, approved an injunction and enforcement order against these activities and logging began in earnest. By the end of January the fellers had done their work, and the wood was taken away. On Sunday April 1st, 2012 the last of the machines left the forest.