Regine Klein, waving an Extinction Rebellion flag, was one of the protesters who gathered Saturday afternoon at Maffeo Sutton Park to ask for greater protection of B.C.’s old-growth forests. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)

Protesters in Nanaimo call for greater protection of old-growth forests

Extinction Rebellion organized rally at Maffeo Sutton Park on Saturday afternoon

Protesters speaking for the trees gathered in Nanaimo this weekend to ask for protection of B.C.’s old-growth forests.

A rally organized by Extinction Rebellion was held Saturday afternoon at Maffeo Sutton Park, capping off a 13-day hunger strike by two Nanaimo men. Extinction Rebellion members James Darling and Robert Fuller protested in various locations the past two weeks and Fred Speck, who spoke at Saturday’s event, thanked and praised the hunger strikers who he said were “able to speak for the trees, our forests that cannot speak or defend themselves.”

The provincial government is currently reviewing an independent report on old-growth forests, but hasn’t released it yet. The hunger strikers have been asking for a moratorium on logging old growth in the meantime, but B.C. Forests Minister Doug Donaldson said in the legislature this week that the government isn’t considering a moratorium or any change to the province’s definition of old-growth forest.

Darling called the impacts of logging old-growth forests “eco-cide.”

“It’s our drive to dominate nature and really this culture that puts expansion and growth ahead of all other concerns that is at the root cause of what’s going on,” he said.

Carole Toothill, another speaker at Saturday’s protest, suggested that remaining old-growth forest land makes up only a fraction of what the province calculates as old growth. She said B.C. is losing tree cover that has been building since “time immemorial” and said planted forests result in “monocrops,” devoid of diversity and susceptible to wildfire.

“Go into a new forest. Do you hear the birds? What sort of wildlife? You might see a squirrel if you’re lucky,” she said. “Go into an old-growth forest and just listen to the diversity.”

READ ALSO: What exactly is ‘old growth’ B.C. forest, and how much is protected?

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