Prince George protesters say B.C. is failing at protecting old-growth forests
Rally is part of a global campaign urging immediate action on climate change
About 70 people took to the streets Friday at noon in downtown Prince George, B.C., calling on the province to do more to protect old-growth forests in northern B.C.
The rally — launched by local environmental concern group Conservation North — is part of a four-day global Scientist Rebellion campaign against climate change from March 25 to 28.
Art Fredeen, professor of ecosystem science at University of Northern British Columbia and a speaker in the rally, says continued logging of old-growth forests is affecting not only biodiversity but also the climate.
Join us THIS FRIDAY March 26th to show your disappointment with the lack of leadership in protecting old growth in BC! <br><br>This event is happening in conjunction with events across the globe with <a href="https://twitter.com/ScientistRebel1?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@ScientistRebel1</a><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ProtectOldGrowthNOW?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ProtectOldGrowthNOW</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ForestMarchBC?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ForestMarchBC</a> <a href="https://t.co/9qyAy0dJFc">pic.twitter.com/9qyAy0dJFc</a>—@Conserva_North
"Our old-growth forests sit at this nexus of holding carbon from the atmosphere," Fredeen said Friday to Andrew Kurjata, the guest host of CBC's Daybreak North. "The habitat that they create for wildlife and other types of life is just astounding."
Just over 13 million hectares of old forests remain in B.C., according to provincial data, but an independent report published last April says that's an overestimate and there are actually only 400,000 hectares left.
Another independent study published last April urges the B.C. government to act within six months to defer harvesting in old-growth ecosystems that are at the highest risk of losing biodiversity.
The province announced last September it would temporarily defer old-growth harvesting, but Forests Minister Katrine Conroy said earlier this month that the province's work on this front was significantly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Conservation North director Michelle Connolly says the province is still issuing logging permits to companies in northern B.C.'s at-risk old-growth forests
"There have been absolutely no deferrals of logging here," Connolly said.
The Forests Ministry wrote to CBC News that logging practices won't be prohibited for the time being.
"We know some are calling for an immediate moratorium, but this approach risks thousands of good family supporting jobs," says the ministry's statement.
According to the B.C. Council of Forest Industries, about 38,000 jobs are tied to harvesting old growth in B.C.
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With files from Daybreak North, Andrew Kurjata and Canadian Press