More than 100 prominent Canadians, including former prime minister Brian Mulroney and former governor-general Adrienne Clarkson, and several international supporters signed an open letter released Friday morning calling for the immediate protection of all remaining old-growth forests in B.C.
Other signatories to the letter include Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, authors Naomi Klein and Michael Ondaatje, former politicians David Peterson, Olivia Chow and Stephen Lewis, scientists David Suzuki and Suzanne Simard, musicians Bryan Adams and Neil Young, former NHL player Georges Laraque, and Indigo Books CEO Heather Reisman.
International supporters who have added their names to the list include actors Jane Fonda, Daryl Hannah and Emma Thompson, and environmental activist Greta Thunberg.
“The towering majestic trees of British Columbia are awe inspiring,” said former NDP MP Chow. “For the future generations, including my grandchildren, we must protect all of the large old-growth forests immediately.”
According to Canopy, the non-profit environmental organization behind the letter, only 2.7% of large old-growth forests remain in British Columbia, and despite recent deferrals, are still being intensively logged across the province, including in the Great Bear Rainforest.
“The calibre of signatories and breadth of perspectives represented in this ad underscores how important it is that we protect the incredible natural legacy found in British Columbia,” said Canopy’s executive director, Nicole Rycroft. “Science and the public imagination have converged; both know it’s time to stop the logging of BC’s old-growth forests. We don’t doubt that this will be challenging, but all of us understand ambitious conservation is necessary now.”
Protesters have been camped out in several areas of southwestern Vancouver Island to protest old-growth logging. The B.C Supreme Court granted an injunction banning protests and blockades over a large area. Police began enforcing the injunction on May 17, and had made 238 arrests as of Wednesday, June 16.
Three First Nations on Vancouver Island have called for a two-year deferral of old-growth logging on their traditional territories, which the provincial government and Teal Jones have agreed to, but protesters have vowed to stay put until all old growth is permanently protected.
“I have dedicated my career to studying these magnificent forests and can affirm that the immediate protection of the old-growth forests of British Columbia is absolutely urgent,” said Simard, a professor of forest and conservation sciences at the University of British Columbia. “Old-growth forests are essential hubs in vast interconnected networks. It is essential, for the health of the forest, and the health of our planet, that we do everything we can to keep them standing.”
The text of the letter reads:
“Some things can’t be replaced.
British Columbia used to be the land of giants, with trees towering 250 feet tall.
For thousands of years, these forests have cleaned our air and water, nurtured species, stabilized the climate, and been stewarded by Indigenous Nations through the jurisdictional management of their traditional lands.
Today, logging continues even though less than 3% of these vital, old-growth forests remain.
Premier Horgan, protect the irreplaceable.”