Logging old growth a step backward

Re: "B.C. considers 'limited logging' of old growth," Oct. 10.

Even considering logging protected old-growth forests would be a retrograde step, and would be opposed by most environmental organizations and the public in B.C. These areas were set aside after long, hard-fought battles by groups and residents who were seeing our forests "mined" and wildlife habitats threatened.

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This government proposal is a kneejerk reaction to the beetle kill and accommodating forest companies. We have been overcutting our forests for decades, and it is not a new issue. In the early 1960s, as the result of a pine-beetle kill, the sawmills in the Williams Lake area were given a 50 per cent temporary increase in their annual allowable cut for four years.

So the mills retooled to be more efficient and required more logs. When the four years were up, the companies convinced the government that they needed the extra cut to stay profitable and protect the jobs of their area workers. The annual logging rate in the Williams Lake Timber Supply Area - 3.8 million cubic metres of timber - was 54 per cent higher than the provincial government's estimated sustainable rate of 2.46 million cubic metres.

Ten years later, the cut was still being allowed, albeit at reduced volumes, even though the beetle kill was long over.

This new government suggestion of "limited logging" can only be a stopgap measure.

Where would we go when the trees allowed are harvested? Allow more, or perhaps look at our provincial parks? It is with guarded optimism that the minister states that there would be a process. This process must include more than just the communities involved.

Ed Mankelow


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