Virginia Thompson spoke on the steps of City Hall July 7 to update the community about Old Growth Revylution’s plans to blockade. (Jocelyn Doll-Revelstoke Review)

Virginia Thompson spoke on the steps of City Hall July 7 to update the community about Old Growth Revylution’s plans to blockade. (Jocelyn Doll-Revelstoke Review)

LETTER: ‘I challenge the definition of old growth used by the province’

Revelstoke resident writes on the plight of the Inland Temporate Rainforest

Dear Editor:

Re: A look at the Revelstoke Community Forest Corporation’s tree farm license north of Revelstoke,

I write to take issue with the information given by Mike Copperthwaite on old growth forest in the Revelstoke Community Forest Corporation (RCFC) tree farm license. I also want to raise awareness of the plight of the globally unique Inland Temperate Rainforest in which we live.

I challenge the definition of old growth used by the province and licensees such as RCFC in calculating their numbers.

A recent study, B.C.’s Old Growth Forest: A Last Stand for Biodiversity, by independent scientists Rachel Holt, Dave Daust and Karen Price, found that the B.C. government’s numbers are misleading: 23 per cent of forest in the province is old growth, or about 13 million hectares.

In fact, most of the area the province considers old growth can’t support big trees. Instead a majority of what is counted is low-productivity forest, such as small trees at high elevations, according to the study. Because government doesn’t differentiate between productive and non-productive old growth forests, companies can harvest big trees and leave small, unproductive trees and still meet their old growth retention targets.

READ MORE: Big old trees almost gone forever in B.C., scientists warn

The study found that approximately 415,000 hectares of B.C.’s forest contain very large trees, or about three per cent. In the Inland Temperate Rainforest around Revelstoke, it is the low elevation Interior Cedar Hemlock (ICH) ecosystem which can produce large trees.

This is also the most valuable timber and is critical habitat for mountain caribou. See the table below, prepared by Gregory Kehm for an application under the Species at Risk Act, for the logging by the local timber companies in caribou critical habitat, which is also old growth, and in Old Growth Management Areas (OGMAs) which is mostly caribou critical habitat.

Licensee Forest Development Plans – Unharvested blocks within Critical Caribou Habitat and Non-legal Old Growth Management Areas. Prepared by Gregory Kehm Associates March 28, 2018. Appendix K of a Section 80 request un der the Species At Risk Act to stop logging in federally identified critical habitat of the Southern Mountain Caribou.

RCFC has just had a new Forest Development Plan approved for the same timber volume for the next five years and it will be approximately the same 75 per cent in caribou critical habitat and OGMAs, according to the findings included in the Section 80 application – because that is the make-up of their tenure. It shows that caribou protection and OGMAs are not real protection. OGMAs can be traded, moved around and otherwise violated as they are not legalized. For example, the caribou critical habitat protection of the 2007 Mountain Caribou Recovery Plan was traded for OGMAs. (Section 80 application under Species at Risk Act, April 18, 2018)

The Inland Temperate Rainforest is at risk of imminent collapse if logging continues at current levels. That is the conclusion of a study, by Darwyn Coxson and nine other scientists, published by peer reviewed journal Land on July 23, 2021.

This study also finds that our Inland Temperate Rainforest is home to trees more than 1,000 years old and to endangered species such as the mountain caribou. Both are globally unique. This rainforest provides ecosystem services such as clean air, clean water, climate moderation and carbon sequestering, as well as lowering the wildfire risk.

There are fantastic opportunities for recreation and tourism. The old growth rainforest also tends to our psychological needs. If anyone doubts the crisis which exists in this beautiful treasure we live in, go to Old Growth Revylution on Facebook or Instagram to see a three minute aerial tour of the forest near Revelstoke. It looks like a patchwork quilt.

There needs to be an immediate stop to old growth logging in the Inland Temperate Rainforest including the area south and north of Revelstoke up to Kinbasket Lake and the Wood Arm, so that the recommendations of the Provincial Old Growth Review Panel can be implemented.

Stop the bleeding so you can treat the patient.

Virginia Thompson Revelstoke

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