Protesters gather in Duncan in solidarity with Forest March BC in April 2019. People will be gathered in groups across at least 13 B.C. communities to protest industrial logging and destruction of old growth forest on Friday, Sept. 18, 2020. (Forest March BC)

March to protect old growth, stop industrial logging coming to B.C. Legislature

Organizers say they want to give frontline communities a bigger say in nearby logging

A series of marches dedicated to stopping industrial logging and preserving old growth forests are coming to communities all around B.C. on Friday (Sept. 18)

The events are spearheaded by Forest March B.C., a grassroots group dedicated to “uniting and empowering B.C. communities located on the front lines of of forestry by creating a network of engaged resistance and solidarity for nature-based management of B.C. forests,” although most marches are led by groups not affiliated with the organization.

Organizer Jennifer Houghton said the rally had three goals: prioritizing ecosystem health in forestry legislation, involving affected communities in the management of public land and prohibiting private corporations from having any say in public land decisions.

“This is a way of unifying communities who’ve been negatively impacted by industrial clearcut forestry and giving communities a say in what’s going on in the land and the forests around us,” Houghton told Black Press Media by phone Thursday (Sept. 17).

“We’re the ones who are impacted by what’s happening in forests.”

Houghton said that while the group is focused on preserving old growth and responsible forest management, that doesn’t mean they are anti-logging or anti-forestry.

“We’ve been talking to workers and there’s a lot of uncertainty for forestry workers right now,” she said. “I hear from forestry workers that they’re concerned that B.C. is being ‘logged out’ and they’re not going to have long-term jobs.”

Houghton has personally felt the impact of logging. She lived in Grand Forks through the 2018 floods, which destroyed low-lying houses in the town, and is a plaintiff in a lawsuit that alleges negligent logging led to the destruction of their homes. The lawsuit has three plaintiffs and is targeted at six forestry and development companies, as well as the provincial government. None of the claims have been proven in court.

“The watershed above Grand Forks had an incredibly damaging effect on the local community,” Houghton said.

“The people who are making decisions about forestry in B.C. are corporations and that’s not good for small towns.”

But climate and environmental factors have impacted not just those near Grand Forks.

“It’s impacting climate change, our ability to be protected from fires… we need intact forests. We’re all at risk right now.”

Marches are scheduled across 13 communities in B.C. planned by groups in alignment with, but not affiliated by, Forest March BC, along with a main march in front of the B.C. Legislature from noon to 2 p.m. Friday. The communities with marches include Victoria, Powell River, Nanaimo, Whistler, Comox Valley, Nelson, Peachland, Gabriola Island, Golden, Salmon Arm, Vernon, Salt Spring Island and Oceanside Parksville.

Specific locations for the marches are not being revealed so as to aid organizers in keeping them small and COVID-compliant. Participants are asked to physically distance and wear masks.

READ MORE: What exactly is ‘old growth’ B.C. forest, and how much is protected?


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

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