After experiencing cognitive decline, Howard Breen ends hunger strike on day 31

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      A Nanaimo environmental activist has decided to resume eating after going on a monthlong hunger strike.

      Howard Breen, 68, was briefly hospitalized in April in his campaign. That came less than two days after he stopped consuming any fluids at noon on Earth Day (April 22).

      Breen and Vancouver resident, Brent Eichler, each launched hunger strikes, pledging not to eat until Forests Minister Katrine Conroy agreed to a public meeting to discuss old-growth logging.

      Conroy phoned each of them on Earth Day but refused to agree to their demand.

      Eichler halted his hunger strike last week after 33 days.

      Breen decided to resume eating after suffering cognitive decline and losing nearly 40 pounds.

      "I really packed it on before," Breen told the Straight on April 22. "I’m nowhere near as thin as [Eichler] is. But I knew I needed to start with something to lose because of my age, being older than him.”

      A third activist, Nanaimo resident Vic Brice, is continuing his hunger strike. According to the group Save Old Growth, he's lost more than 10 pounds.

      The hunger strikes are part of a campaign of peaceful civil disobedience by Save Old Growth to try to force an end to old-growth logging in B.C.

      "Old growth forests act as an essential carbon sink, they hold the soil and reduce the risk and severity of floods and landslides, they act as a natural barrier to wildfires, they are home to many endangered species, and they are culturally and spiritually significant ancestors of these lands," the group stated in a news release.

      In an April 30 column on Straight.com, former Vancouver city councillor Tim Louis pointed out that there are 11.1 million hectares of old-growth forests in the province, according to provincial statistics.

      "According to news reports, 3.5 million hectares are protected and the government has very recently announced a temporary halt to logging a further 2.6 million hectares, pending First Nations approval," Louis wrote. "The balance of B.C.'s old-growth forests remains unprotected and continues to be logged."

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