Sustainable Environment Network Society seeks halt to old-growth logging in the Okanagan

Concern over logging

Vernon's Sustainable Environment Network Society is expressing concern over the allowable cut in the latest Okanagan Timber Supply Area review.

In a letter to the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, SENS calls on Minister Katrine Conroy to bring about "massive change" in the way B.C.'s forests are managed.

This includes a halt to all cut block logging, old-growth logging, slash burning, and a huge increase in the area of protected lands in the Okanagan.

"We believe that massive change in how we log must occur immediately so that we become stewards of the land and not destroyers," the letter states. "The way things were done in the early 1900s is no longer acceptable or forward thinking. As well, with the climate crisis that we all must adapt for, decisions on forests and their denizens are even more critical," SENS secretary-treasurer Julia Lissau wrote.

Premier John Horgan and Vernon-Monashee MLA Harwinder Sandhu are cc'd on the letter.

SENS' demands include:

  • Stop all cut block logging in favour of selective logging and horse logging. In the case of insect damage, reduce the size of the cut blocks.
  • Stop all old growth logging.
  • Species at risk legislation so that all sensitive and old growth ecosystems are protected forever. The society says current legislation does not do so "because logging continues to happen in areas where grizzlies, caribou and other species have a right to live."
  • Stop all logging in watersheds close to and connected to local communities.
  • Give Indigenous peoples a veto and share of the log value.
  • Prevent slash burning.
  • Monitoring of logging company/owner licencees.
  • Apply new regulations to private land and tree farm licences.
  • Increase protected lands from 9% of the Okanagan Timber Supply Area to 50%.
  • Send no logs out of B.C. to create jobs here.
  • Halt the spraying of Glyphosate on B.C. forests to kill deciduous growth.

SENS says a discussion paper on B.C. forests leans towards "heavy harvest" of old-growth timber over the next three decades.

"But, when it’s gone, there’s no forest that can, over time, be like current really old growth.

"Why should companies be given the right to strip mine the trees due to an outdated way of doing things? ... Forestry companies have had a century of taking as if the forests were theirs and would last forever. We have run out of never-ending stands of trees everywhere. We need a permanent moratorium on all old growth."

SENS claims forest practices have put 2,000 species of animals and plants at risk of extinction.

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