A rally was staged at Nanaimo-North Cowichan MLA Doug Routley’s constituency office in Nanaimo on Wednesday. It was one of several similar rallies across the Island and other parts of the province held to present a letter demanding the B.C. government immediately enact strong protection for the last remaining stands of the province’s intact old-growth forest. CHRIS BUSH/The News Bulletin

Nanaimo rally staged to call for old-growth forest protection

Rally held Wednesday at Nanaimo-North Cowichan MLA’s office to present petition

About 20 people from the Sierra Club, Leadnow and other environmental advocacy groups gathered at Nanaimo-North Cowichan MLA Doug Routley’s constituency office Wednesday to stage a rally and present a letter demanding protection for B.C.’s old-growth forests.

The letter, signed by more than 20,000 B.C. residents, calling for the immediate protection of the last intact but unprotected old-growth stands across B.C., was also presented at MLA constituency offices on the Island, Sunshine Coast and Lower Mainland.

RELATED: Protesters rally against logging of old-growth rainforests on Vancouver Island

Nina Ristogi, a volunteer with the Sierra Club and a speaker at the Nanaimo rally, said B.C.’s old-growth forests are among the “rare and precious” ecosystems on Earth and the most able on the planet to sequester carbon to help prevent global warming and if they are cut, because of climate change, they will never grow back and their ability to hold soil, protect watersheds, mitigate climate change and other environmental benefits will lost.

“We now have the highest rate ever of raw log exports in B.C. that we’ve ever had and we know about climate change,” Ristogi said in her address to the gathering. “We know about biodiversity and the need to protect biodiversity. Not cutting trees is what scientists say is the most important thing we could possibly do and they say, in particular, old-growth forests sequester the most carbon and so we need to protect them above all else. We need to protect our old-growth forests.”

Ristogi went on to express disappointment with the current NDP government’s failure to take steps on its promise to switch to more sustainable types of forestry since it came into power.

“That promise has not been kept,” she said. “There has been no real noticeable change … in those 18 months.”

The B.C. government announced in mid-January the Coast Forest Sector Revitalization Initiative. Forests Minister Doug Donaldson was in town Jan. 24 and spoke with the News Bulletin about the plan, saying the government wants to see more domestic log processing, less export of raw logs and better utilization of forest fibre.

“What I hear from communities like Nanaimo and others is we want to increase public trust in the oversight of a public resource, and that’s the forests, and increase social licence that the forest industry has to work in the forest,” the minister said.

-files from Greg Sakaki/The News Bulletin



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