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Sierra Club

When we think about the nature of British Columbia, several images come to mind. The Pacific Ocean, snow-capped mountains, and of course, towering old-growth trees. However, a recent report from a group of independent scientists shows that due to a century of over-logging, only three percent of old-growth forests with huge, old trees are still standing.

In other words, it took a mere 100 years to wipe out the vast majority of trees and forests that stood tall for thousands of years. The study’s authors fear that some of those last remaining ecosystems will be pushed to the brink over the next five years, as only a small portion are protected from logging. Even forests with trees over 1,000 years old aren’t safe.

In response to this study, Sierra Club BC is calling on the provincial government to immediately place a moratorium on logging in endangered old-growth ecosystems.

“These scientists have painted a stark picture, and the fate of these big, ancient trees is in our hands,” says Jens Wieting, Sierra Club BC’s Senior Forest and Climate Campaigner. “Right now, the B.C. government has the opportunity to make conservation and environmental restoration a cornerstone of the COVID-19 economic recovery with a vision for healthy communities, healthy ecosystems, and preventing future disasters.”

These forests aren’t just a scenic backdrop – they’re essential to our long-term safety and wellbeing.

Old-growth forests
(Photo credit: TJ Watt/Ancient Forest Alliance)

Specifically, in addition to providing clean air and fresh water, old-growth forests also help protect communities from water shortages, floods, extreme rainfall, and landslides – risks that are made more likely and more severe by climate change.

British Columbians understand the importance of protecting these vital and iconic forests. In a 2019 poll run by Sierra Club BC, 92% of B.C residents support taking action to defend endangered old-growth forests.

Yet despite this support, more than 500 soccer fields of old-growth are clear cut in British Columbia every single day. Soon, these trees will have all been cut down and it will be too late to protect them.

To ensure these ancient giants survive into the future, B.C. residents need to speak up and call on the government to stop logging big, old trees and endangered ecosystems.

“There’s still time to protect the last remaining old-growth forests, if we act now. This can be accomplished through public and governmental support for Indigenous-led conservation solutions, ecosystem restoration, investments in government stewardship, and a shift to sustainable ecoforestry that maximizes the value and quality of wood products,” said Wieting, urging residents to call on the B.C. government to work with Indigenous governments to protect endangered forests.

Old-growth trees
(Photo credit: TJ Watt/Ancient Forest Alliance)

The last of British Columbia’s old-growth forests hold irreplaceable cultural values for Indigenous peoples, critical habitat for endangered species and irrecoverable carbon that has been stored over hundreds of years. They provide unmeasurable benefits for our health and are a key asset of B.C.’s billion-dollar tourism industry.

Considering the environmental, cultural, and economic impact the old-growth forests have in British Columbia, it’s clear that we can’t afford to wait any longer to protect them. To learn how you can help defend the last remaining old-growth forests and confront climate change, visit Sierra Club BC and change the future of our province.