BC Greens suggest the use of the Species at Risk Act to protect Western Screech Owls and Old-Growth Forests in the Fairy Creek water shed.
For some time, the British Colombia (BC) Green party has advocated for the protection of the old growth forests in the Fairy Creek area. Calls to action have had increasing support from the public as more clashes and arrests occur between the Royal Mounted Canadian Police (RCMP) and anti-logging activists at the logging camp. These arrests were not conducted in the presence of the press. “B.C. journalists have filed an application with the BC Supreme Court, asking that their rights not be fettered by RCMP exclusion zones. This is a worrying trend in our province, particularly in relation to conflicts around resource extraction and Indigenous territory,” said Leader of the BC Green Party Sonia Furstenau to Global Green News (GGN).
According to the Rainforest Flying Squad (RFS), a grassroots organization that has held the blockades at the Fairy Creek logging site, increasing force has been used by the RCMP in recent weeks. On this topic Furstenau told GGN, “What is meant to be transparent and accountable in terms of the actions of police and what is happening on the ground should not be hidden from view should not be excluded. This is a part of what it means to live in a democratic society. It is concerning, and we have raised this issue with the government.”
“WE ARE DOWN TO THE LAST 3% OF REMAINING OLD GROWTH IN THE PROVINCE. THESE TREES ARE SOME OF THE OLDEST LIVING THINGS ON EARTH—HUNDREDS, AND SOME THOUSANDS OF YEARS OLD.”– BC Green Party Sonia Furstenau to GGN.
First Nations leaders from the Huu-ay-aht, Pacheedaht and Ditadaht First Nations have called for a two year pause on old-growth logging in the area and sent a signed notice to the provincial government on Saturday.
However, they are not calling for third party protesters to intervene at the site on their behalf. Other ways of supporting the protection of old growth forests are encouraged. “Request meetings (with MPs and MLAs) if you’re a constituent and make your case. Make phone calls, send emails. These things really do make a difference to politicians -they do hear it when people speak up. Support organizations that are advocating on these issues,” said Furstenau to GGN.
Furstenau went on to emphasize the importance of such old growth forests
.: ”When it comes to climate change, these ancient forests are some of the best defenses, they absorb enormous amounts of carbon and are extraordinary on that front, but it’s also the fact that they are some of the last intact biodiverse systems and habitats.”
Screech owls are a threatened species in B.C. and along with many other animals and creatures rely on our forests to live and survive.– BC Green Party Sonia Furstenau to GGN.
This comes at a time when the endangered Western Screech Owl has been sighted in areas marked for logging, as reported by a University of British Colombia (UBC) Professor Royann Petrell. While provincial forestry officials claim that these owl sittings are not in areas marked for logging, an anonymous ministry biologist disputes these claims in an email to the National Observer. They claim the owls are in a marked logging area and recommend that the logging activities should stop, at least for the duration of the nesting season.
Enacting the wildlife protection laws have been successful at halting industrial activities in the past. Activity at the Trans Mountain Pipeline (TMX) in BC was halted for four months due to a humming bird nesting in the area that was protected under the Migratory Birds Act.
“I think there is potential for the owl to play a significant role, as the hummingbird has with TMX….Our federal government has the ability to order a halt to logging in defense of the owls under the Species At Risk Act,” said Furstenau to GGN.
Currently Premier John Horgan of the New Democratic Party (NDP) supports the Teal Jones Group and their logging efforts . This is despite an independent old-growth revue panel finding a need to protect such biodiverse ecosystems, which Horgan promised to uphold, while on the campaign trail.
“When we look at what the provincial government has had in its hands, the Old Growth Review report and recommendations, they had a map and a pathway to protect the last of the old growth and avoid conflict, but they chose not to act,” said Furstenau to GGN.
She went on to explain where the NDP need to do more:
“The BC NDP have many options for how to protect old growth in BC, including leveraging funding from the federal government for protection of at-risk ecosystems – the Feds have set aside $2.3 billion to expand protected areas. This is a potential gamechanger to get these endangered ecosystems protected, but the BC NDP has to open the door and let this money in because they control land use – and so far they’re refusing.”
While this is still an ongoing matter, First Nations representatives said that they are open to new talks with the government and hopes that their consultation will be heard.