Save 50% of Canada's ecosystems by 2030!

PLEASE SEND a MESSAGE to the federal, provincial, and territorial governments of Canada to take a pivotal step to avert both the extinction and climate crises by committing to protect and restore 50% of Canada’s land and marine ecosystems by 2030.

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Protecting 50% of Earth’s native ecosystems by 2030 would be a game-changer to significantly avert both the extinction and climate crises, according to scientists.

Earth is in a mass extinction crisis. One million species are projected by scientists to go extinct due to human activities over the ensuing decades.

Earth is also in a climate crisis. The current trajectory towards catastrophic global warming threatens human civilization and life on the planet as we know it.

Protecting 50% of Earth’s native ecosystems by 2030 would be a game-changer to significantly avert both the extinction and climate crises, according to scientists. It would draw-down massive amounts of atmospheric carbon, enabling simultaneous emissions reductions efforts to keep global temperatures from rising above the global target of 1.5 degree Celsius.

Protecting native ecosystems also benefits humanity by supporting businesses and jobs in tourism, recreation, fishing (by providing clean water and habitat), real estate (by increasing property values in communities near protected green spaces), and numerous other industries; supporting First Nations cultures which evolved in native ecosystems over millenia; enhancing our mental and physical health; and providing ecosystem services like clean water, regional and global climate regulation, food, and medicines.

Indeed, native ecosystems are the foundation of life on Earth.

Canada has a long way to go to meet our international commitment to protect 17% of our land base by the end of 2020 and to meet a much higher international target to be set for 2030 at the UN  Biodiversity Conference in October of 2020.

The UN Biodiversity Conference is the central opportunity for Canada to push for an international commitment for far more ambitious, ecosystems-based protection targets - here and around the world.

Vancouver Sun op-ed by Ken Wu: What will it take to save BC's old-growth forests?

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Vancouver Sun Op-Ed (Sept.16, 2019)

What will it take to save BC’s old-growth forests?

By Ken Wu

The recent fires raging in the Amazon have begun to focus the world’s attention on the destruction of forests in general — including the logging of B.C.’s magnificent, old-growth, temperate rainforests — the grandest forests on earth next to the U.S. redwoods.

The towering ancient trees in Cathedral Grove, Avatar Grove, Clayoquot Sound, the West Coast Trail, the Carmanah and Walbran valleys and the inland rainforest are among the largest and oldest living organisms that have ever existed. These forests hold, per hectare, more carbon than even the Amazon rainforest. They are also vital for many unique and endangered species, First Nations cultures, B.C.’s multi-billion-dollar tourism industry and to provide clean water for communities and wild salmon.

The unique features of old-growth forests take centuries to develop — in a province where the forests are re-logged every 60 years on the Coast. As a result, old-growth forests are not a renewable resource under B.C.’s system of forestry and are not replicated by tree-planting.

With just 20 per cent of the productive old-growth forests left on Vancouver Island, including less than 10 per cent of the biggest trees in the valley bottoms, to continue logging the last giants is akin to slaughtering the last herds of elephants or harpooning the last great whales. It’s unnecessary and unethical, given that second-growth forests dominate more than 80 per cent of B.C.’s productive forest lands and can be sustainably logged. 

Indeed, the rest of the western world is focused on logging 50- to 100-year-old second- or third-growth trees. B.C. is one of the very last jurisdictions on earth that still supports the large-scale logging of 500-year-old trees. On Vancouver Island alone, about 10,000 hectares of productive old-growth forests are logged each year, while only eight per cent of the original is protected in parks and old-growth management areas.

This will not last.

The transition to an exclusively second-growth forest industry in B.C. is inevitable, when the last of the unprotected old-growth stands are logged. Conservationists are just advocating that this transition happen now, rather than after the last endangered old-growth stands are gone.

Unfortunately, several obstacles stand in the way of saving them.

One obstacle is the provincial government’s public relations spin, which insinuates that plenty of old-growth forests still stand and are protected. In their stats, they remove the context of how much once stood, and then combine vast tracts of stunted “bonsai” trees growing in bogs, on steep rock faces and in the subalpine “snow forests,” together with the productive stands where the large, valuable trees grow. It’s like saying that because there are still lots of sardines left, it’s fine to catch the last of the giant bluefin tuna. It’s a disingenuous conflation of critical distinctions. 

Another obstacle is the belief that we must log these last old-growth stands to sustain the economy and jobs. This belies the fact that B.C.’s old-growth forests and forestry jobs have both drastically declined as a result of the high-grade overcutting of the biggest, best old-growth trees in the valley bottoms and lower elevations, leaving behind smaller, hard-to-access trees on steep slopes near the mountain tops and resulting in diminishing returns. 

Along with mechanization, vastly expanded raw log exports and a lack of B.C. government incentives and regulations to ensure investment in second-growth manufacturing facilities, this has resulted in a massive decline in forestry employment over decades. Since 1993, more than 250,000 hectares of old-growth forests have been logged on Vancouver Island — more than 20 times the size of the city of Vancouver. Meanwhile, direct employment in B.C.’s forest industry has halved, to 50,000 workers today from almost 100,000 in 1997. The high-grade resource depletion model of development not only leads to the increasing collapse of ecosystems but of rural employment as well.

Instead, by employing more people with the trees that we cut by fostering a value-added, second-growth forest industry, we could create more jobs while protecting our remaining old-growth forests. In addition, research shows that standing old-growth forests are economically more valuable than logging them when factoring in tourism, recreation, clean water for recreational and commercial fisheries, carbon offsets and non-timber forest products (eg. wild mushrooms). Hence, numerous chambers of commerce, municipalities, unions, and First Nations have been calling on the B.C. government to expand old-growth protections in recent years; it’s not just tree-huggers these days.

To save B.C.’s old-growth forests, we fundamentally need comprehensive legislation where the latest science sets increased protection targets for old-growth in each ecosystem.

The election of an NDP government backed by the Greens is the greatest opportunity to finally protect our old-growth forests and establish a sustainable, second-growth forest industry — at least in theory.

After two years of heel-dragging and defending the status quo, the NDP government has stated that it is finally developing a new policy to manage B.C.’s old-growth forests, convening a two-person panel chaired by foresters Gary Merkel and Al Gorley this fall to gather “community” input. 

We insist that this process must be open to public input rather than just to selected “stakeholders,” otherwise it will be largely an attempt to reinforce the status quo of old-growth liquidation. The panel’s findings must also be timed to feed into amendments to B.C.’s main forest practices regulations, the Forest and Range Practices Act, before the amendments are introduced in the Legislature next spring. Public feedback has already overwhelmingly favoured old-growth protection in the public input process on revising act last spring. 

If combined with logging moratoria on the most intact old-growth “hot spots” and lands managed by the B.C. government’s own logging agency, B.C. Timber Sales, as well as financing First Nations’ protected areas and sustainable development, modernizing the old 1990s land-use plans, implementing a land acquisition fund to purchase and protect old-growth on private lands and incentivizing a value-added, second-growth forest industry, the NDP may finally resolve B.C.’s War in the Woods. If they don’t, all their processes will ultimately be just more government charades to buy time to continue liquidating old-growth as long as possible, to take us over the brink.

Let’s hope the current expansion of environmental concern finally wakes up the dinosaurs in the provincial government after decades.

Ken Wu is executive director of the Endangered Ecosystems Alliance. He has worked to protect B.C.’s old-growth forests for 28 years.

Push to Scale-up Ecosystem Protection at Global Climate Strike

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Push to Vastly Scale-Up Nature Protection as Conservationists Join Greta Thunberg’s Global Climate Strike – the largest environmental protests in world history!

Key Points:

**Today Endangered Ecosystems Alliance (EEA) supporters and other conservation groups will join the Global Climate Strike protests, the largest environmental protests in world history (today’s protest in Montreal potentially could be the very largest environmental protest in history, rivalling or exceeding the 250,000 climate protesters in New York City a week ago), across the country. 

**The EEA is calling for greater ambition of the federal and provincial governments to scale-up the protection of Canada’s diverse land and marine ecosystems, which draw down vast amounts of atmospheric carbon each year, and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. EEA is calling for 50% protection of Canada’s land and marine ecosystems by 2030. The federal Liberals announced a 25% protection target by 2025 yesterday for Canada’s land and ocean environments, and a 30% target by 2030 – an important step forward that must still be scaled-up with ecosystem-based targets and that must mandate participation by the provinces.

**Scientists note that protecting and restoring native ecosystems on a large scale is a vital game-changer to help avert both the extinction and the climate crises by drawing-down about 1/3 of humanity’s greenhouse gas emissions into forests, grasslands, wetlands, and oceans. 

Vancouver, BC - Endangered Ecosystems Alliance campaigner Ken Wu will be at the Global Climate Strike today in Vancouver (1 pm, City Hall, finishes 5 pm), while thousands of activists from hundreds of nature conservation organizations will take part in rallies and marches across the country, calling on all levels of governments to strengthen emissions reductions targets, end fossil fuel subsidies, increase carbon pricing, stop support for fossil fuel megaprojects, expand support for clean energy and energy efficiency – and to quickly scale-up the protection of native ecosystems, including forests (including old-growth forests in BC), grasslands, wetlands, and marine ecosystems. 

The Global Climate Strike rallies, on the last day of a weeklong series of protests between Sept.20 to 27, is the largest environmental mobilization in world history, with an estimated 4 million people around the world participating in protests on the first day on Sept.20. Today’s protest in Canadian cities is expected to be huge, with Greta Thunberg attending the Montreal protest which may very well rival or exceed the New York City protest a week ago in scale (250,000 people last week).  

“It’s hard to believe that little Greta Thunberg, starting last year as a lone 15 year old protesting outside the Swedish parliament, has touched-off a global movement that has expanded into the largest environmental movement in world history! I’m pretty floored and exhilarated by it all. This is a movement to protect the climate that also involves ‘natural solutions’, as Greta has called it, that is, the protection of native ecosystems on a large scale. As someone who has worked in the environmental movement for almost three decades on nature and climate campaigns, the current situation is a rare expansion of environmental consciousness that comes every few decades for a brief duration – roughly 1989 to 1990, 2005 to 2006, and now 2019 to 2020, when the environment is the number one concern in the western world. Now is the time to ensure the key policy, legislative, and structural changes to save the planet and humanity. This momentum won’t last forever - it will diminish sometime late next year with an expected recession – and in the meantime the environmental movement needs to build a broader, more resilient movement involving diverse businesses, unions, faith groups, and multi-cultural outreach, to have the long-term power to even outlast the popular upsurge right now,” stated Ken Wu, Endangered Ecosystems Alliance executive director.

The Endangered Ecosystems Alliance is beginning a national tour and mobilization, which was launched last week at a Sept.18 event in Victoria, followed by a series of hikes and forthcoming rallies and events across Canada in the lead-up to the UN Biodiversity Conference in October, 2020, when a new international protection target for land and marine ecosystems will be negotiated by nations across Earth.  The Endangered Ecosystems Alliance is a new Canadian environmental group, with about 24,000 followers on Facebook, working for the science-based protection of native ecosystems across Canada and that supports Indigenous Protected Areas. 

Greta Thunberg and writer George Monbiot make the case for massive ecosystem protection and restoration as a vital climate solution, as forests and nature draw-down vast amounts of atmospheric carbon and are needed along with major emissions reductions to achieve our climate targets. They make the case to support organizations, movements, and policies and to vote for those who protect native ecosystems. See: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/sep/19/greta-thunberg-we-are-ignoring-natural-climate-solutions

This is based on the recent research showing that we can’t meet our Paris climate targets by emissions reductions alone, given that governments have left emissions reductions too late – and thus the major protection of native ecosystems is needed. See: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/2019/04/science-study-outlines-30-percent-conservation-2030/ 

Scientists have now stated that we are entering the greatest extinction crisis in human history due to climate change, which will exacerbate the crisis caused by habitat destruction and invasive species, threatening 1 million species with extinction this century:
https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2019/05/06/extinction-report-1-million-animals-plants-risk-uns-ipebs-says/1115842001 
 
“In terms of a climate solution, the greatest carbon capture devices that exist are called ‘trees’ and ‘nature’. Protecting large areas of forests, grasslands and wetlands would be a huge game-changer to draw-down vast amounts of atmospheric carbon that may give us enough time to transition our entire society into a low-carbon economy,” stated Wu.

 The Endangered Ecosystems Alliance is also calling on the federal government to mandate that the provinces - who are responsible for creating most protected areas in Canada – commit to the national targets, including both the near-term target of 17% by 2020 and a more ambitious 50% by 2030 target, and develop ecosystem-based action plans to achieve them.  See our media release from June at: https://www.endangeredecosystemsalliance.org/news/2019/6/5/june-5-world-environment-day-conservationists-call-for-an-ambitious-50-protection-target-for-canada-by-2030nbsp

In BC, the Endangered Ecosystems Alliance and numerous BC conservation groups are calling on the BC NDP government to implement an annual land acquisition fund to purchase and protect endangered ecosystems on private lands, to undertake conservation financing for First Nations sustainable economic development tied to the implementation of Indigenous Protected Areas and old-growth forest protection, to fully recognize, fund, and legislate protection for Indigenous Protected Areas, to commit in BC to our federal and international protected areas targets, and to end the logging of endangered old-growth forests across the province. 


“We need a World War 2-scale mobilization to avert the climate and biodiversity crises, and the expanded protection of native ecosystems is a fundamental part of this effort. While 50% protection may sound like a lot, it could be done by adding about 3% protection each year until 2030,” stated Wu.
 
Canada currently has adopted a target of 17% protection of its land area by 2020 under the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity’s protocol. Currently less than 12% of Canada’s land area is protected, but the federal government has stated they intend to reach the 17% target by the fall of 2020. 
 
Importantly, the federal government has not mandated that the provinces adopt the targets, nor mandated that targets be set for all ecosystem types – resulting in most new protected areas being established in the Arctic and subarctic regions (certainly positive steps forward) in the territories, but with relatively few new protected areas in the more diverse and biologically richer southern ecosystems (deciduous and mixed forests, grasslands, old-growth temperate rainforests, etc.) in the provinces that are of greater interest for timber companies, agriculture, or human settlement. 

Media Release: Canada's most magnificent old-growth forest located on Vancouver Island?

Media Release

January 9, 2019  

Conservationists locate what may be Canada's most magnificent and photogenic old-growth forest on Vancouver Island  

The “Mossome” Grove (short for “Mossy and Awesome” Grove) consists of giant, prehistoric-looking, shaggy bigleaf maples with tall, straight Sitka spruce, and is found near Port Renfrew 

Conservationists in British Columbia have recently located what may very well be the most magnificent and awe-inspiring old-growth forest in the country on Vancouver Island. The spectacular, largely unprotected grove, with several near record-size trees, highlights the need for new policies by the BC government to protect BC’s biggest trees, grandest groves, and old-growth forest ecosystems. The BC government has recently stated that they are currently developing a new set of policies to manage BC’s old-growth forests but have not revealed any details yet.  

The 13 hectare grove of immense old-growth Sitka spruce and bigleaf maples draped in hanging mosses and ferns, nicknamed the “Mossome Grove” (short for “Mossy and Awesome” Grove), was initially located in October and explored again in late December by conservationists Ken Wu of the Endangered Ecosystems Alliance and TJ Watt, Andrea Inness, and Rachel Ablack of the Ancient Forest Alliance. The grove is located on Crown land in the San Juan River Valley near Port Renfrew on southern Vancouver Island in the unceded territory of the Pacheedaht First Nation band. Most of the grove is unprotected, with a small portion, about four hectares, lying within an Old-Growth Management Area and in the riparian reserve along the San Juan River.   

“This is perhaps the most magnificent and stunningly beautiful old-growth forest I’ve ever seen, and I’ve explored a lot of old-growth forests in my time,” stated Ken Wu, executive director of the Endangered Ecosystems Alliance and former executive director of the Ancient Forest Alliance and the Wilderness Committee’s Victoria office, who has 28 years’ experience exploring and campaigning to protect BC’s old-growth forests. “This is the first time in Canada we’ve located a prominent stand of this rare forest type, with old-growth spruce and maple trees growing together. The combination of giant Sitka spruce, as tall and straight as Roman pillars, and huge, ancient, bigleaf maples draped in hanging mosses and ferns, resembling prehistoric shaggy monsters, makes this perhaps the most photogenic forest in the country. Hollywood could not make a more stunning, picture-perfect forest than this one. This is the best example of ‘charismatic megaflora’ that I’ve ever seen. Of all of BC’s ancient forests, this one deserves protection not only due to the scarcity of its ecosystem type, but because of its sheer unique beauty.”  

The Mossome Grove stands on Crown lands in the operating area of BC Timber Sales, with a portion on a Woodlot Licence of the Pacheedaht band and the rest under the management authority of BC Timber Sales. BC Timber Sales is the notorious BC government logging agency which has come under fire across the province for auctioning off old-growth forests to be clearcut in such places as the Nahmint Valley and Schmidt Creek on Vancouver Island, as well as in Manning Provincial Park’s “donut hole”.  

Several of the Mossome Grove’s largest trees are near record-sized, including a Sitka spruce that would rank the ninth widest in comparison to those currently listed on the BC Big Tree Registry (with a diameter of 3.1 meters or 10 feet & 1 inch) and a bigleaf maple that would rank the ninth widest on the registry (with a diameter of 2.29 meters or 7 feet & 6 inches). The massive maple, nicknamed the “Woolly Giant”, also may very well have the longest horizontal branch of any tree in British Columbia, measuring 23.1 meters (76 feet) long – more than the height of many second-growth trees – and is covered in thick mats of hanging mosses and ferns, resembling a prehistoric monster.   

Along with its “charismatic megaflora”, the Mossome Grove is also home to “charismatic megafauna”, including significant numbers of Roosevelt elk, black-tailed deer, black bears, wolves, and cougars, who inhabit the productive San Juan River Valley. Old-growth forests on Vancouver Island in the area are also important habitat for the marbled murrelet, northern goshawk, pygmy owl, screech owl, Vaux’s swift, and long-eared bats.  

Old-growth Sitka spruce and bigleaf maple stands are best known in the Hoh, Queets, and Quinault Valleys in the Olympic National Park in Washington State, where millions of tourists visit to marvel at the mossy giants. In Canada, such ancient spruce/maple stands are essentially unknown by the conservation movement and tourism industry for the simple reason they are virtually non-existent here, except for this newly-identified stand and possibly a few small patches scattered around southwestern Vancouver Island. At the time of European colonization in BC, there would have been more extensive but still limited old-growth Sitka spruce and bigleaf maples stands in the San Juan, Nitinat, and Fraser Valleys. However, virtually all have been logged or converted to agriculture or urban sprawl (in the case of the Fraser Valley where Vancouver stands today).  

“This is like a combination of the monumental Sitka spruce stands of the Carmanah Valley and the gorgeous bigleaf maples of the Mossy Maple Grove that we popularized a few years ago near Lake Cowichan. The two combined are essentially the apex of the grandeur and beauty that could exist in a forest”, stated TJ Watt, Ancient Forest Alliance campaigner and photographer. “Photogenically, this grove should be a new poster child for BC’s endangered ancient forests – and the urgent need to protect their beauty. We need old-growth protection at all spatial scales at this time, to save the biggest trees, grandest groves, and old-growth forest ecosystems on a vaster scale.”  

Due to its limited size, the scarcity of this forest type, and the fact that there are no trails, the Endangered Ecosystems Alliance and Ancient Forest Alliance are not publicly revealing the Mossome Grove’s location at this time until it can be safeguarded from excessive trampling, and most importantly, from future commercial logging.  

The Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development since 2012 has been working to develop a “Big Tree Protection Order”, a policy originally aimed at protecting the largest trees and grandest groves in BC. Successive governments, including the NDP, have dragged out the policy’s development and implementation and appear to be leaving out the most important facets of the proposed policy, that is, to include buffer zones around the largest trees, to include the grandest groves (concentrations of exceptionally large trees), to make the threshold sizes for protection reasonable (instead of protecting only the very few largest trees), and to make the policy legally-binding rather than voluntary. Currently the policy is being piloted in selected parts of Vancouver Island and also in areas managed by BC Timber Sales, where it is called the “Coastal Legacy Tree” policy. The Coastal Legacy  Tree policy recently failed to protect the ninth widest Douglas-fir tree in BC in the Nahmint Valley. See: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/old-growth-logging-1.4689648  

“Without buffer zones to surround and protect the largest trees, and without also protecting the grandest groves, the BC government’s currently proposed big tree protection policy is essentially a ‘Big Lonely Doug policy’ that will leave a few sad giants standing alone in clearcuts scattered around Vancouver Island,” stated Andrea Inness, Ancient Forest Alliance campaigner, referring to Canada’s 2nd largest Douglas fir, nicknamed ‘Big Lonely Doug’ by AFA campaigners who identified the tree in 2014. “The largest trees and grandest groves are like the ‘icing on the cake’, while protecting old-growth ecosystems on a larger scale, that is, saving the ‘rest of cake’, is ultimately the most important task. But it would be a shame to lose the icing…without it, a cake is not quite the same.”  

More background info  

While an effective Big Tree Protection Order would be particularly important in cases like the Mossome Grove, more important would be science-based legislation to protect BC’s remaining old-growth forest ecosystems on a much more comprehensive scale. While new legislation and updated land use plans are being developed, moratoria on the most intact and highest conservation value old-growth forests like at the nearby Edinburgh Mountain and Upper Walbran Valley need to be implemented in places, while the BC government needs to also implement incentives and regulations for the development of a value-added, sustainable second-growth forest industry.   

Conservation financing support from the provincial and federal governments is also needed for BC’s First Nations communities to help foster sustainable businesses and jobs in the communities based on eco- and cultural tourism, clean energy development, non-timber forest products (e.g. wild mushroom and berry harvests), sustainable seafood harvesting, and value-added second-growth forestry.  

To ensure the protection of all ecosystem types, federal and provincial “Endangered Ecosystems Acts” are also needed to establish science-based protection and recovery targets for all ecosystems across Canada, including rare plant communities such as old-growth Sitka spruce and bigleaf maple groves like Mossome Grove.   In the interim, the federal government has committed to protecting 17% of Canada’s land and freshwater ecosystems by 2020 and must greatly step up its prioritization and activity to achieve this target (currently Canada is at 10.6% protection). In particular, most of the provinces, including British Columbia, must still commit to meeting the 17% target, and conservation groups will be lobbying the province to adopt this target shortly.  

Old-growth forests are vital to sustaining unique endangered species, climate stability, tourism, clean water, wild salmon, and the cultures of many First Nations. On BC’s southern coast, satellite photos show that at least 75% of the original, productive old-growth forests have been logged, including well over 90% of the valley bottoms where the largest trees grow. Only about 8% of Vancouver Island’s original, productive old-growth forests are protected in parks and Old-Growth Management Areas. Old-growth forests, with trees up to 2,000 years old, are a non-renewable resource under BC’s system of forestry, where second-growth forests are re-logged every 50 to 100 years, never to become old-growth again.  

The Ancient Forest Alliance and Endangered Ecosysystems Alliance are calling on the BC government to implement a comprehensive, science-based plan to protect all of BC’s remaining endangered old-growth forests while also ensuring a sustainable, value-added, second-growth forest industry.  

Due to the popularity of nearby old-growth forests for large numbers of visitors from across the world, the former logging town of Port Renfrew has rebranded itself in recent years as the “Tall Trees Capital of Canada.” Not only is the town located near Mossome Grove, but is also near many of the province’s most popular ancient forest destinations including the Avatar Grove, Central Walbran Valley, Big Lonely Doug (Canada’s 2nd largest Douglas-fir), Red Creek Fir (the world’s largest Douglas-fir), Harris Creek Spruce (an enormous Sitka Spruce), San Juan Spruce (previously Canada’s largest spruce until the top broke off last year), Eden Grove, and Jurassic Grove.  These ancient forests and trees attract hundreds of thousands of tourists from around the world, strengthening the economy of southern Vancouver Island. Environmental groups encourage visitors to stay in local accommodations, buy food and groceries in local stores, and camp in the Pacheedaht-run campground to help boost the local economy with eco-tourism dollars.  

Various chambers of commerce, starting with the Port Renfrew Chamber of Commerce, have called for increased protection of BC’s ancient forests. The BC Chamber of Commerce, BC’s premier business lobby representing 36,000 businesses, passed a resolution in May of 2016, calling on the province to expand protection for BC’s old-growth forests to support the economy, after a series of similar resolutions passed by the Port Renfrew, Sooke, and WestShore Chambers of Commerce. See: www.ancientforestalliance.org/news-item.php?ID=1010  

Both the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM), representing the mayors, city and town councils, and regional districts across BC, and Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities (AVICC), representing Vancouver Island local governments, passed a resolution in 2016 calling on the province to protect Vancouver Island’s remaining old-growth forests by amending the 1994 land use plan. See: https://www.ancientforestalliance.org/news-item.php?ID=1057  

The Private and Public Workers of Canada (PPWC), formerly the Pulp, Paper, and Woodworkers of Canada, representing thousands of sawmill and pulp mill workers across BC, passed a resolution in 2017 calling for an end to old-growth logging on Vancouver Island. See: http://ancientforestalliance.org/news-item.php?ID=1100   See maps and stats on the remaining old-growth forests on BC’s southern coast at: www.ancientforestalliance.org/old-growth-maps.php  

In order to placate public fears about the loss of BC’s endangered old-growth forests, the BC government’s PR-spin typically over-inflats the amount of remaining old-growth forests by including hundreds of thousands of hectares of marginal, low productivity forests growing in bogs and at high elevations with smaller, stunted trees, in with the productive old-growth forests, where the large trees grow (and where most logging takes place). See a rebuttal to some of the BC government’s PR-spin and stats about old-growth forests towards the BOTTOM of the webpage: https://www.ancientforestalliance.org/news-item.php?ID=1052

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A Vital Niche in the National Conservation Movement - Upcoming Projects

Endangered Ecosystems Alliance – A New National Conservation Group that Fills a Key Niche

The Endangered Ecosystems Alliance (EEA) is a new national conservation organization working for the science-based protection of all native ecosystems and to increase “ecosystem literacy” across Canada. The organization was founded in September of 2018 by Ken Wu, formerly the executive director and co-founder of the Ancient Forest Alliance (2010 to 2018) and the executive director and campaign director of the Wilderness Committee in Victoria, BC (1999 to 2010).

The Endangered Ecosystem Alliance’s three main goals are:

1. To ensure the comprehensive protection of all native ecosystem types in Canada based on science, on a scale sufficient to ensure their long-term ecological integrity.

2. To vastly scale-up “ecosystem literacy”, that is, the public’s insight, inspiration and connection to the ecosystems where they live and those across the country.

3. To support and foster key facets of Canada’s economy, politics, and cultures that support increased ecosystem protection.

The Opportunity

Canada has some of the greatest diversity of ecosystems on Earth – from lush temperate rainforests to semi-arid deserts and grasslands, from rich southern deciduous forests to the far northern Arctic tundra, from millions of freshwater lakes and rivers to diverse oceanic marine environments. All of these ecosystems require greater protection to sustain their ecological integrity as industrial development proceeds throughout the country, particularly in light of climate change.

The Canadian government has announced a protection target of 17% of Canada’s terrestrial landscapes and freshwater systems by 2020 as part of the United Nations’ Convention on Biological Diversity’s biodiversity targets established in Aichi, Japan in 2010. Currently, about 10.6% of Canada’s land area has been protected. The 17% commitment thus represents the largest potential expansion of ecosystem protection in Canadian history – but with just 1 year left to go to meet this target, it will require an unprecedented expansion of public awareness and mobilization involving key sectors of society. Otherwise, it will simply be another missed “aspirational target” that came and went, largely announced for its original PR-value, similar to many climate change targets.

In particular, provincial governments which control most land use policies in Canada need to commit to the target and develop ambitious plans to represent all native ecosystems to meet those targets, including the biologically richer southern ecosystems where the greatest land use conflicts tend to be, rather than locating new protected lands primarily in far northern, subarctic, or higher elevation ecosystems. Without serious provincial buy-in with plans on how to get there, the 17% target won’t be achieved.

The momentum built to achieve the 17% target will also boost post-2020 protection proposals, including more ambitious targets and ultimately, a national “Endangered Ecosystems Act”, with corresponding legislation in provinces. These proposals must be based on the latest conservation biology science and traditional ecological knowledge.

Indigenous movements to create Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCA’s), such as Tribal Parks in British Columbia, have been growing in recent years, forming a Canada-wide movement that represents a powerful and vital force to break through the inertia and intransigence of various levels of government to expand protected areas.

A Key Niche and a New Approach

The Endangered Ecosystems Alliance will fill a vitally important niche in the campaign to protect Canada’s endangered ecosystems, including:

- Serving as a potent “outside organizing arm” of the conservation movement focused largely on generating large-scale public awareness and mobilizations to pressure the federal and provincial governments to protect endangered ecosystems, in coordination with environmental groups working on the inside of government to lobby and inform politicians. We will extensively use the news media and the increasingly powerful social media to build momentum for the 17% target and beyond.

- Work with the legions of nature photographers and videographers to vastly increase public awareness about Canada’s diverse ecosystems via social media, and to link these photos and videos to the campaigns to save them.

- Ally with First Nations advocates of Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas to help protect areas of concern for Indigenous peoples and to help push through the gridlock of some governments on expanding ecosystem protection.

- Working to foster “non-traditional allies”, including businesses, unions, faith groups, scientists and academics, outdoor recreation clubs, and diverse cultural groups, in order to vastly expand the scope and strength of the ecosystem protection movement beyond its current environmental activist base.

- Provide local conservationists and small conservation groups with tools, including online resources, advice, guidance, and workshops, to more effectively campaign to protect natural areas in their provinces.

- Work with conservation groups and ecologists across the country to develop and promote science-based ecosystem protection proposals.

 

Some Projects and Funding Needs:

- Develop video series, the “Amazing Ecosystems of Canada”:  Cost - $5,000

- Commission a Preliminary Report on the Status of Native and Endangered Ecosystems in Canada.  Cost for key Mapping - $5,000

- Draft legislation for a National Endangered Ecosystems Act - $3,000

- Develop major online mobilization tools, including Send a Message websites, to protect endangered ecosystems. Cost - $2000

- Hire key part-time staff for 2019:  Administration and Development Coordinator: $25,000

Total:  $40,000

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