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Posted: July 25, 2021

Don’t let them pull the bark over your eyes

“Perceptions,” by Gerry Warner

Op-Ed Commentary

So, what is the real tragedy of the ravenous forest fires engulfing B.C. now?

Is it all the formerly green countryside and rich landscapes being turned to ash and cinder by the ferocious flames that have eaten up one B.C. village and threatening several more?

That’s bad, but there’s more. Much more.

What about all the lush ecosystems, home to billions of animal, plant and insect species, that make up the biosphere on which we depend for our very existence? What are we going to do? Pack up and move to California? It’s burning too. And its fire season lasts past Christmas!

What about the fact that these horrific fires follow on the heels of the pine beetle plague that’s eaten up the rich forests of the central interior where the fires are the worst? The economy of that area was already hurting. Now it’s going to hurt a lot more because there will be little commercial grade timber left to cut.

By the time this dreadful summer is over there will be a lot more questions that need answering, not the least of which is going to be can our woods survive a “business as usual” approach?

Or is it time for a “paradigm shift” in forest management as advocated in the government’s Strategic Old Growth Management Report that the government has ignored ever since it came out more than a year ago.

For over a century, B.C. forests have been managed for profit with only a token effort to ensure the longevity of the resource. But the report, written by two professional foresters, said forests should also be managed for environmental values such as preserving ecosystems and boosting biodiversity as well as cleansing the air we breathe and the water we drink and fighting climate change.

Premier John Horgan has been choking on these recommendations ever since by refusing to consider the end of old growth logging and only saying that cutting the last of the old growth will be “deferred.”

Not surprisingly, Horgan’s critics have said a resounding “no” to that and continue blockading old growth logging at Fairy Creek on Vancouver Island and Argonaut Creek north of Revelstoke. The courts have backed the government’s side and hundreds of protesters have been arrested at both locations and charged. The inevitable result appears to be another “War in the Woods” on B.C. soil. Just what we need when we’re in the middle of another catastrophic wildfire season in “Beautiful BC.”

As a former forest firefighter myself, I empathize with the fire crews out there. I also empathize with the loggers who work hard in a dangerous industry. But I don’t empathize with our intransigent premier who doesn’t realize where logging should end and conservation begins.

B.C.’s over-logged forests deserve a break!

From the Pacific Ocean to the Rockies, they once covered our wonderful province like a warm green blanket giving sustenance to all who live here. But from the time the first colonizers arrived, they used and abused our patrimony like there was no tomorrow. Figures vary, but it’s now generally agreed that only five percent of our original, ancient, old growth is left. What a tragedy!

And now they’re coming for the last pitiful five percent of our once magnificent forests. All I can say to that is – don’t let them have it!

In particular, don’t let Premier Horgan have it because he’s playing a cynical political game with of us. The forests of B.C. are owned by the Crown and belong to the public. We never gave them social licence to clear cut the last of B.C.’s ancient old growth, hundreds of years old. That’s why Horgan keeps using the word “deferred.” He wants us to believe our iconic old growth is not really being logged, just deferred, and will return to us by magic some day. But we know different.

What Horgan is peddling is another version of “talk and log,” the mantra for cutting the last old growth before the rubes realize it’s gone giving the logging magnates another decade in business before the whole industry collapses out of its own greed.

Don’t let them get away with it. Please!

Photo by Gerry Warner

– Gerry Warner is a retired journalist, who tells it like it is, usually to his own detriment.

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