Extinction Rebellion Vancouver plans sit-in today on Cambie Bridge to raise alarm about old-growth forests

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      A local group of climate activists plan to hold their second False Creek bridge closure in Vancouver today.

      Nearly one-and-a-half years after taking over the Burrard Bridge, Extinction Rebellion Vancouver members are going to gather on the Cambie Bridge.

      This time, they're demanding an end to old-growth logging. This action will coincide with a similar protest at the B.C. legislature.

      According to Extinction Rebellion Vancouver, logging old-growth forests violates its global demand to "act now" to address the climate crisis.

      "Cutting down ancient forests not only destroys the rarest and most biodiverse habitat we have, it also trashes an extremely effective carbon sink and disturbs the soil, resulting in further CO2 emissions,” one of the volunteers, Kelly Tatham, said in a news release. “These trees are a vital component of mitigating catastrophic warming and biodiversity loss on the planet and they deserve to be respected as ancient living beings—not ravaged for consumption."

      The action comes in the midst of a legal fight launched by a forestry company, Teal-Jones, against efforts to prevent it from logging in the Fairy Creek watershed near Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island.

      Environmental activists have set up camps at two locations in the area. The company is seeking an injunction in B.C. Supreme Court.

      Meanwhile, opponents of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion have created a treehouse to interfere with the construction process in the Lower Mainland.

      "With both pipelines and logging, governments are ignoring their own experts and continuing with dangerous and morally bankrupt resource exploitation that everyone knows has no future," Extinction Rebellion volunteer and former B.C. Green candidate Maayan Kreitzman said in the news release. "That’s why we are demanding that power be transitioned to a Citizens' Assembly on climate and ecological justice.

      "Citizens’ Assemblies empower regular people that represent what Canada actually looks like to decide on real solutions. They are our best hope to upgrade democracy in time to prevent climate-chaos fuelled social collapse and mass extinction of species."

      In past Extinction Rebellion Vancouver protests, the Red Brigade has shown up to add a theatrical element.
      Grace Grignon

      Advisory panel called for dramatic action

      Last April, the two-member independent Old Growth Strategic Review Panel submitted a report with 14 recommendations.

      "The term 'old growth' has become a generic label for forests or trees that hold a variety of different values beyond the definitions used in timber management" wrote cochairs Al Gorley and Garry Merkel. "OG means different things to many people and has a diverse array of sometimes conflicting values, all of which warrant consideration."

      Moreover, the two registered professional foresters stated in their report that old-forest values and objectives need to be clearly articulated.

      For example, they noted that the "role of old forests in climate change is complex".

      "Mitigating climate change through carbon sequestration and storage needs to be fully analyzed and integrated into forest management decision-making," Gorley and Merkel wrote.

      The report also called for adding new age classes to the classification system, such as 250 to 500 years, 500 to 1,000 years, and 1,000 years and over.

      "Managing forests in a way that does not unduly compromise timber supply puts our focus on the wrong thing," they stated. "This treats ecosystem resilience and reducing biodiversity risk as constraints, which, over time, are constantly being eroded by compromises.

      "Making choices about risk to biodiversity in return for another defined benefit might be a necessity but those choices need to be made with the overarching goal of maintaining ecosystem health in mind."

      Video: National Geographic says at the current rate of destruction, the world's rainforests will disappear by the end of the century.

      In another section, they wrote that ecosystems that often took thousands of years to form are being managed with policies that change based on election cycles.

      "We have seen how frequent changes in priorities due to the ideologies of different governing parties can cause uncertainty and loss of continuity," the maintained. "Frequent changes in management direction and emphasis do not align well with most forest management activities. While changes will be inevitable, they should be based more on science-based adaptive management than short-term pressures."

      The Old Growth Strategic Review Panel report was released in September and it included five "required conditions for change":

      1. Indigenous involvement;

      2. adopt a three-zone management framework (protected, converted, and consistent);

      3. better public information;

      4. prioritize ecosystem health;

      5. and strengthened governance.

      "There are some areas of the province where failure to act now could lead to the permanent loss of rare or unique ecosystem components contained in old and ancient forests," Gorley and Merkel concluded. "Many of these areas are the primary subject of a public call for protection of old forests.

      "They tend to be iconic stands in relatively close proximity to public access or population centers and have a number of other economic, ecosystem services and intrinsic values that are important to a wide range of the general public," they continued. "A system of new, more sustainable, and effective approaches to managing biodiversity and other old-forest values will take some time to fully develop and implement.

      "In the meantime, any of these stands that are intended for harvesting or other significant disturbance should be deferred from development."

      In the event of a deferral, they recommended conducting an economic-impact analysis and establishing a "fair and equitable process to mitigate economic impacts to holders of small area-based timber tenures".

      Jens Weiting of Sierra Club B.C. produced this video about the links between climate change and old-growth forests.

      1,000-year-old trees jeopardized

      According to Sierra Club B.C., only three percent of old-growth forests "with huge, old trees" still exist in B.C.—and most are slated to be logged.

      The environmental group worries that it may take years to strengthen laws to protect them.

      Yet in the meantime, it states that more than 500 soccer fields of old-growth forests in B.C. are being clear-cut every day.

      "Even trees older than 1,000 years are not safe," it states on its website.

      For more information, see an independent report on the Sierra Club B.C. website called "B.C.'s Old-Growth Forest: A Last Stand for Biodiversity".

      When trees are cut down, they release their stored carbon into the atmosphere. In addition, fewer forests reduce the Earth's capacity to absorb carbon dioxide, resulting in more of this gas being released.


      Here's a photo of the scene at the intersection of Cambie Street and West Broadway.