Fir patches have little protection: Penn

High profile environmental crusader mourns the loss of old growth Douglas fir

Briony Penn says the loss of DL33 was larger than its size might suggest.

Briony Penn says the loss of DL33 was larger than its size might suggest.

The loss of District Lot 33 may have involved a small area, but it represented a much larger loss in terms of biodiversity, says a prominent B.C. environmentalist.

Speaking at a fundraising slideshow and talk in Qualicum Beach Friday, Salt Spring Island resident Briony Penn said the increasing rarity of the Coastal Douglas fir ecosystem made the loss of the Nanoose Bay forest particularly unfortunate.

“It’s an issue not as exotic as the Great Bear Rainforest or other amazing wilderness locations, but it’s an issue taking place in our own back yard, the loss of what was a piece of the most biologically productive forest, the Coastal Douglas fir ecosystem,” Penn said to the 400 people in attendance at the Qualicum Beach Civic Centre. “There is less than one per cent of the old forests remaining on Vancouver Island, just tiny patches. They have been identified by the province as provincially endangered ecosystems, but the patches that are left still have absolutely no protection.”

That lack of protection, she said, allowed DL33 to be logged, despite its endangered status.


“Why did we lose DL33?” she asked. “It’s simple. It’s about the value in real estate and logs. The government has been clear that Crown parcels are seen as having the highest and best value as real estate and raw logs.”

The feature speaker at the Jan. 13 event, renowned bear biologist and co-founder of the Valhalla Wilderness Society Wayne McCrory agreed.

“It’s terrible to lose DL33,” he said. “We can’t keep cutting these areas. We have to use our voices and our hands and work harder to save these areas. Vancouver Island has such rich forests, but it has suffered the greatest losses, which is why losing DL33 is so tragic to me.

“As more people become aware, we can use that as a lesson about the need to work harder to prevent that from happening again.”

Penn urged residents to consider taking a stand on the issue, using their status as shareholders in the BC Investment Management Corporation, which manages civil service pensions to make their point.

“I throw it back to the audience,” Penn said. “The continual degradation of these ecosystems is in the hands of those of us with a voice who can go as shareholders, unions or private investment companies and say, ‘I don’t want my pension investment dollars going into having these areas logged.’ We have the power to change things. I urge you with pensions invested to make sure you talk to your investment companies, find out where they are and go to shareholder meetings, annual general meetings and say you don’t want to see this happening any more.”


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