The future of forests and forestry on Vancouver Island will be the main focus of an upcoming open house in Nanaimo.
Representatives from Sierra Club B.C. and the Wilderness Committee, a non-profit society dedicated to protecting Canadian wilderness, will be discussing the status of old-growth forests and the forestry industry at an open house at Vancouver Island University on Wednesday, Nov. 8 at 7 p.m.
Torrance Coste, a campaigner with Wilderness Committee and one of the speakers at the upcoming open house, said the event is about finding solutions to protecting old-growth forests and ensuring economically sustainable forestry practices, adding that his organization and the Sierra Club are pushing for sustainable second-growth forestry practices.
“We have to have truly sustainable second-growth forestry here on the Island and our groups aren’t saying we have all the knowledge of what that could look like and that is why we are on the road,” he said. “We’re here to learn from people in these communities. People from Nanaimo have that knowledge and expertise and we’re looking forward to hearing some of their ideas.”
Less than 10 per cent of low-elevation, high-value old-growth forest remains on Vancouver Island, according to Coste, who said both his organization and the Sierra Club are calling for a total logging ban in old-growth forests on the Island. Coste said his organization is not against forestry, but just want to find sustainable solutions that won’t cripple the environment or communities dependent on forestry for economic survival.
“The challenge is not leaving logging communities hanging out to dry,” he said. “We’re not interested in solutions that protect ecosystems but leave out First Nations or forsake forestry workers.”
The upcoming event in Nanaimo is one of six stops for the Wilderness Committee and the Sierra Club, who have called their Island campaign the Let’s Talk Forests tour. The organizations have already held presentations in Port Hardy, Campbell River and Duncan and will also stop in Port Alberni and Courtenay.
Coste said many of the comments during the first three open house events were around concerns about the way the forestry industry is currently operating on Vancouver Island.
“There is an overall feeling that forestry is not being done with maximum benefit for people in the communities,” he said. “So, lots of logs and lots of money is leaving.”
The knowledge and information shared during the open houses will help inform both Sierra Club B.C. and the Wilderness Committee and could be used to help formulate a plan to lobby the provincial government for new laws that better remaining old-growth ecosystems forests.
“No one, ourselves included, have said we shouldn’t have forestry on Vancouver Island. I hope we always have forestry, we always have,” Coste said. “But it is important that it’s done in a way that is sustianable ecologically and brings as much wealth from the resources that we are extracting to people in the communities that are exactracting it.”
The open house begins at 7 p.m. at VIU in Building 250, Room 125. For more information, visit www.wildernesscommittee.org.