The ongoing arrests at the Fairy Creek watershed emphasize yet again the need to declare a ban on logging in areas of old-growth forests across British Columbia. This step is urgent – time is quickly running out to save our planet from the capitalist drive for resource extraction with the aim of maximum corporate profits.
Too much wood has been harvested, too fast, with little to show. BC’s forestry sector now accounts for only two percent of provincial GDP. Since the late 1990s the industry has closed over 100 mills, and employment has dropped from 91,000 to less than 50,000 today. During the decade of 2009-2019, operating the BC Forests Ministry cost taxpayers over $10 billion, while the industry produced direct government revenues of $6 billion.
As recently as last year, the province’s Old Growth Strategic Review Panel said that further logging of BC’s last old-growth forests risks losing the remaining ecosystem health and diversity. Yet the Horgan NDP government refuses to change this disastrous course, rejecting the advice of scientists and researchers. In fact, under the Horgan NDP, the 150-year trajectory towards logging off old-growth forests continues. While this priceless asset for our common future is steadily reduced to lumber for a fast buck, the number of jobs in the forestry and logging sector keeps declining. The consequences will be devastating for Indigenous peoples, the salmon fishery, the tourism sector and for working people across the province.
As others have eloquently pointed out, Premier Horgan has shamefully cloaked his government’s logging policies with phony words about Indigenous self-determination and reconciliation. Indigenous peoples, who have lived in the forests and along the coast for thousands of years before the arrival of the colonial powers and the Canadian capitalist state, were never given meaningful options for economic and cultural survival, and this remains true today. Peoples who live in dire poverty, suffering the impact of generations of cultural genocide, residential schools, unemployment and destruction of their traditional economic activities are desperate for any opportunity to improve their lives.
The provincial government keeps making cynical efforts to leverage this reality into “Indigenous support” for expanded logging with some limited benefits, but this strategy is the same fraudulent agreements pushed by the former Liberal government. The Courts have ruled that real, meaningful and territorial Indigenous title is needed, not side deals which are a continuing expression of the legacy of colonialism.
The Communist Party of BC supports a full, indefinite moratorium on logging in all old-growth forests, to respect Indigenous title, to protect species biodiversity, to save the remaining salmon stocks and to ensure that future generations will still have these ancient trees. This province has vast economic wealth – the government must act to provide First Nations and other communities with the funds they need to protect and monitor the health of forests, and to improve the lives of their populations. This is the real path towards a sustainable future for the natural environment, and for the working people of British Columbia, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous. The time to act is now, not when the old-growth forests are gone.
Provincial Executive, Communist Party of BC
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