Dear Premier Horgan,
Congratulations on winning the election. Thank you for speaking up for old-growth forests during your campaign. I am writing to ask that you follow through on your promise by fully implementing the Independent Old-Growth Panel’s recommendations in your mandate letter to new Ministers.
This recent election has made it clear that the majority of voters in British Columbia want to protect endangered old-growth forests. But let’s also be clear about some things: This isn’t an issue of politics and popularity. It’s an issue of climate, of protecting endangered ecological systems, of the sovereignty of Indigenous nations, and of the dignity of historic Indigenous cultures.
These forests need interim protection now. This can be done by creating a cabinet that reflects the significance and relevancy of the need to fast-track the full implementation of the Old Growth Panel’s report. Your task now is to create a cabinet of ministers who understand the climate crisis, ecological collapse, and Indigenous rights, while also understanding how intact forests can help protect the health and well-being of all British Columbians. This will require that the Panel’s recommendations be part of the key tasks in the mandate letters to Ministers of Forests, Environment and Climate Change, and Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation. You will also need to provide adequate funding for the full implementation of the Panel’s recommendations including those for alternative economic opportunities. And lastly, we need to expedite meaningful engagement with Indigenous decision-makers to fully implement those recommendations, including an interim step of a full moratorium on logging at-risk iconic low elevation old-growth forests.
Only 400,000 hectares with big old-growth trees remain across all of B.C.-that’s about the size of Burnaby and Surrey combined. Many are presently slated for clear-cut.
Logging in B.C. puts out 42 million tonnes of atmospheric carbon emissions annually. In addition, another 26 million tonnes can’t be recaptured for at least the first 13 years before planted trees have built enough root/soil symbiosis. Old-growth forests, like B.C’s., are particularly adept at carbon sequestration. At 1,000 tonnes of carbon per hectare, it is one of the highest rates on earth.
The benefits of leaving them for the health of our province’s collective future are manifold. These remaining old-growth rainforests are one of the keys to our understanding of how our greater ecosystems function, and thus they are paramount to our future task of rehabilitation after so much clear-cutting has already been done. They are also key to rebuilding the well being of many Indigenous nations. There is much in the way of tourism potential in these intact ancient forest ecosystems.
When we consider the ecological and cultural significance of old-growth forests, it behooves all who have it in their power to protect these ancient and vibrant ecosystems for future generations. Is it asking too much to protect .04% of B.C’s area from logging? I believe you know the answer to that. Those ecosystems deserve it, and future generations deserve it too.