Protesters rally in front of Parksville Qualicum Beach MLA Michelle Stilwell’s office on Feb. 6 to call for the protection of old-growth forests on Vancouver Island. - Karly Blats photo

Protesters rally in front of Parksville Qualicum Beach MLA Michelle Stilwell’s office on Feb. 6 to call for the protection of old-growth forests on Vancouver Island. - Karly Blats photo

Protesters rally against logging of old-growth rainforests on Vancouver Island

Parksville Qualicum Beach residents gather in front of MLA Michelle Stilwell’s office

Parksville Qualicum Beach residents gathered in front of MLA Michelle Stilwell’s office on Wednesday (Feb. 6) to send their message against the logging of old-growth rainforests on Vancouver Island.

Many of the approximately two-dozen protesters were from local environmental groups, including Arrowsmith Parks and Land Use Council, Friends of French Creek, Broombusters and Arrowsmith Naturalists. All were passionate about sending their message to the provincial government that the Island’s old-growth rainforests are in crisis.

“Why on earth are we allowing anyone to cut these old-growth forests down? They’re never going to grow back,” said Joanne Sales, Broombusters director during the protest.

Similar protests took place all across B.C. on Feb. 6., many organized by members of Sierra Club BC Forest Team.

In the past year, more than 16,000 B.C. residents have sent letters to the provincial government calling for the protection of ancient rainforests. According to the Sierra Club of BC, during that same period, about 10,000 hectares of old-growth forest has been clearcut.

“We want [the province] to know our old-growth forests are in crisis and we want them to stop logging old growth,” Sales said.

On Vancouver Island, old-growth forests are being cut at the rate of three square metres every second, or about 34 soccer fields per day, according to an information sheet from the Sierra Club of BC.

Sally Soanes, member of the Arrowsmith Naturalists, said the damage caused from logging old-growth forests is “horrendous.”

“Our hiking groups go out every 10 days, the damage is everywhere they go,” Soanes said. “They’re clearcutting right to the water, right to the creeks. French Creek watershed is in real trouble and that’s because it’s on private land and they’re cutting everything.”

Protesters across B.C. are calling on the province to establish and Old-Growth Protection Act using the Great Bear Rainforest Agreement as a model, support First nations, create long-term forestry jobs and immediately halt logging in critical old-growth forest hotspots.

karly.blats@pqbnews.com

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