Ingmar Lee, April 14, 2005
Two weeks ago, the Campbell government and American logging giant, Weyerhaeuser announced that 140 hectares was being added to Cathedral Grove park. Not mentioned: most of the acquisition is a logged-out stumpfield, basically a tax-burden wasteland for Weyerhaeuser, now unloaded onto BC tax-payers.
What’s wrong with this picture?
Southeastern Vancouver Island’s ancient fir forest has been 95% exterminated in 150 years of logging. The second pass is even more voracious, with Weyerhaeuser and TimberWest logging 30 year-old trees to supply their scandalous 1,000,000 cubic-metre raw-log exports annually.
Deer populations are down 80% in the last decade, salmon runs are at a trickle and Canada’s most endangered specie, the Vancouver Island marmot is virtually extinct, while wolves, cougar and Golden eagles take the blame. Does anyone care about Vancouver Island’s fir forests?
Well, not our biggest professional environmental institutions, namely Greenpeace, the BC Sierra Club, Forest Ethics and the Rainforest Action Network, known collectively as the Rainforest Solutions Project (RSP).
Vancouver Island was abandoned for a behind-closed-doors deal with the logging industry over the ‘Great Bear Rainforest’ (GBR). In spite of an independent scientific panel conclusion that 40 – 60% of the largest remaining tract of temperate rainforest must be protected, RSP has settled for just 21% of the GBR. RSP members won’t criticize Weyerhaeuser, Interfor, Canfor, Norske Skog and Western anywhere else in the province in exchange for the deal. Which explains what is happening to our island.
The logging industry has done their homework and has been reading from Burson-Marstellar-type PR manuals about “How to Co-opt your Pesky Local Enviro-org” and they are following the advice to the letter.
The results are astounding.
Last year at Weyerhaeuser’s AGM, CEO Steve Rogel flashed up the RSP member logos on his power-point, describing them as “Weyerhaeuser’s BC Partners.”
Last week, RSP members stooped to accept a “ForestLeadership Award” at a gala Toronto event key-noted by the notorious logging and fish-farm apologist, Patrick Moore himself. This week, the Conservation Voters of BC, which is advised by senior members of the same groups, endorsed SRM Minister George Abbott, apparently for his services on the GBR file.
Anyone watching BC’s enviro-scene knows that Abbott is as green as an oil slick.
Compromise-collaborationist environmentalism is taking British Columbia by storm. Big Industry and Big Enviro are firmly embedded. BC’s professional enviro’s stand by on the sidelines and watch while volunteer grass-roots citizens take action and do the dirty work. Charitable status, agreements with funders and backroom arrangements with industry preclude involvement by BC’s environmental institutions in any direct action or civil disobedience. Now they await the final fate of their GBR deal.
Campbell’s environmental record is in the toilet, but shovelling money just isn’t greening up what's in there. People know that the global ecological catastrophe is driven by his style of government. He badly needs a green announcement. Will Gordon Campbell buy into the Great Bear Rainforest compromise as yet another pathetic pre-election goody? Will he be endorsed by the Conservation Voters of BC?
Meanwhile, demoralized, horrified and heartbroken BC nature lovers look north with admiration to Haida Gwaii, where Guujaw and the Haida Nation, with widespread community support are demonstrating exactly what it takes to expunge our province of the Weyerhaeusers and TimberWests of the world, and their government lackeys. Three cheers to the Haida! Would that we had that kind of leadership.
Ingmar Lee is a Student of Asian and Environmental Studies at UVic. He has planted trees in BC's coastal clearcuts for 21 years.
RAN statement on GBR:
RSP GBR website:
Conservation Voters of BC website: