There was a time not so long ago when the forest industry was regulated by a truly world class Forest Practices Code. Important environmental values were monitored and given some degree of protection. ‘Sustainability’ was an achievable management goal, community stability was an essential economic component.

But no more. Over the past 16 years government agencies have been gutted of the professional skills and management resources that made the system work. Under the Liberal governments of Gordon Campbell and Christy Clark, public oversight has all but disappeared. The regulations and transparency that once protected vital public interests have been replaced by reliance on the opaque opinions of professional foresters who work for the industry.

And so along with the public interest went the trees — raw log exports on freighters bound for China and two-by-fours by the trainload to for US. Community-based sawmills and the jobs they once provided are going, going, gone, as are the habitat needs of salmon, bears and First Nation cultures.

In a few short decades, log exports and mechanization have resulted in the loss of 24,000 good-paying jobs in the woods, in sawmills and pulp and paper mills in small communities.

In a few short words: greed and disregard for the public interest in a healthy environment and local community economies. Government agencies have been captured and controlled by the very logging companies they once regulated for our common good. Decision-making has been surrendered to industry-paid professionals who serve the industry that profits from their neglect.

One day, soon we hope, there will be a forensic audit of what the Liberal government (just defeated) has done over the past 20 years to undo the well-being of our forests and all who depend on them.

The ancient forests of British Columbia have developed over thousands of years in some of the richest and most prolific ecosystems on earth. The natural values they contain and the environmental benefits they sustain are astonishing. Clean flowing rivers where salmon spawn and rear their young and people get their drinking water. Habitats for birds, mammals, amphibians and insects. Plants of all sizes from colossal fir, spruce and cedar trees to huckleberry bushes and licorice ferns. A massive role in collecting and storing atmospheric carbon and so mitigating the impacts of climate change.

Today we have logged almost all of the largest, most valuable trees — converting ecological values into cash values siphoned off to investors in distant capital markets. Most all of the benefits are gone, yet all of the costs remain.

On Vancouver Island, just 10 percent of the most productive ancient forest remains unlogged. Ninety percent of the best is gone, in particular the huge and valuable fir and cedar. On Haida Gwaii, over 70 percent is gone, even more in places where the best cedar, spruce and hemlock trees once stood.

One day, soon we hope, there will be a forensic audit of what the Liberal government (just defeated) has done over the past 20 years to undo the well-being of our forests and all who depend on them.

To that end, CommonsBC works with mapping technology and careful economic research to present factual information about what has happened and what needs to be done to make our forests sustainable once more.


Time lapse map shows the loss of ancient forests on Vancouver Island

A stunning new animated map of logging on Vancouver Island was released today by well-known BC environmentalist Vicky Husband. The map displays 150 years of logging in 30 seconds, and provides important perspective to public debate over logging and the escalation of raw log exports from the province.

BC’s farmlands open to fracking & other development? Stop Bill 24

The BC Government is about to pass a bill – Bill 24 – that will allow industrial development through the vast proportion of that farmland. That development would include fracking, mining, diversion of water for oil and gas, and other invasive industrial activities. We must stop Bill 24 from becoming law.

Vancouver Island Ancient Forests

In only 60 years, forest companies have clearcut the vast bulk of Vancouver Island’s ancient forest. Clayoquot Sound (lime green bit near bottom left of right-hand map) is the only significant tall old growth forest remaining. Meanwhile export of raw (non value-added) logs has risen, while job numbers have fallen.