First Nation Environmentalists say NO to logging in Clayoquot Sound.....Again

Steve Lawson, a resident of Clayoquot Sound and Coordinator of FNEN, (First Nations Environmental Network) a National Organization that had been previously involved in the early efforts to stop the logging of old growth forests in Clayoquot Sound, has said that "In the hard face of climate change challenges, no further logging of old growth forests in Clayoquot nor on Canada's west coast should be taking place." The Steering Committee of FNEN across the country agrees.

Deforestation is a global crime against humanity and all life at this juncture in time considering the shifts and weather patterns that are taking place. With fires, drought and extreme changes happening, the idea of logging of old growth coastal forests, especially in areas where change was hard fought for, is a backward step for all," explained Lawson. Not many will profit and all will lose in the long run.

Those who mounted the campaign to stop the logging of old growth in Clayoquot Sound 20 years ago, cannot understand why anyone would decide to log this vital area now. In 2000, Clayoquot Sound was designated a Biosphere Reserve by the United Nations' Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in recognition of its global, cultural, and ecological importance and uniqueness.

The campaign to save Clayoquot Sound made it a household name across Canada and internationally and many have traveled to see the area for themselves. If the area is opened up for logging the tourism industry will be lost. This spectacular wilderness attracts approximately one million visitors per year.

The First Nations Environmental Network hears from communities across the country. They have noticed a disturbing pattern. Wherever First Nations opposed the extraction of the resources in their territory, they are oppressed and harassed such as at Grassy Narrows in Ontario where they have been fighting Abitibi for years, or Blueberry
River against mining. When First Nations negotiators or councils approved resource extraction in their territories, they were applauded and given recognition, money and promises of future prosperity.

As the country suffers from a record heat wave, the FNEN reminds people to look at climate change and the cause. Forests buffer the increasing harmful effects of the thinning ozone layer and absorb the buildup of CO2 in the atmosphere. They give off necessary oxygen; absorb light as well as C02 and their extensive root systems maintain moisture like nothing mankind could ever create. These are just some of the real value of these forests.

Other species such as wild salmon, birds, salamanders and bears, to mention just a few that depend upon these forests are in a struggle for survival due to the loss of habitat. The battle for the forest on Vancouver Island wasn't to continue cutting it nicely but to stop the logging. Over 50% of the valleys had been logged and over 75% of the old growth forests of Vancouver Island have already been removed and heavy clear cutting is taking place now around Nootka Island and into the wilderness areas around Kyuquot. The corporations have taken the best and what is left is necessary to help restore the degraded slopes, maintain what is left of the salmon and fish habitat and to ensure a buffer zone of protection for all the life these forests nurture.

"We are facing a crisis on this planet and we need to collectively make a leap of consciousness to a new and responsible approach about where we are headed. Either we destroy little by little what is left or we muster the courage to say NO to this destruction and turn this around before it is too late." Lawson concluded.

-For more information: Steve Lawson, Phone: 250 726-5265