Endangered Forest Ecosystem Destruction in BC
The most endangered ecosystem in Canada – the Coastal Douglas Fir Ecosystem – has less than 2% remaining in a wild condition. But despite a constant stream of people coming to see the rare plants and animals found there, Premier Clark’s government still OK’d the logging destruction.
by Joe Foy
Everybody loves a cute baby. As our bus wound up the steep mountain road I found myself eye to eye with a beautiful little girl who was looking intently at me from the safety of her mother’s arms. Something was bugging her and she would alternate between smiles and spates of crying as we bumped and swerved ever higher into the mountains.
We were headed for the town of Dalat, which is in the central highlands of Vietnam.I am here with my wife on holiday. What exactly was bugging the baby girl I didn’t know. She had plenty to choose from. It was hot and humid and every time the bus came around a hairpin corner the driver would blast his horn as the passengers would list from side to side with some passengers ending up in the lap of the next one.
Her mother gave her a bottle to calm her down. I guess it was inevitable. Pretty soon our section of the bus was a mix of rolling passengers and baby milk puke, all set to the tune of the loud and constant bus horn blaring away.
But nobody really minded – much. That’s because we were headed for Vietnam’s mountain country. This was the gateway to Yok Don National Park where a small population of Indochinese tigers is said to still exist alongside wild elephants, leopards and monkeys. I doubt I’ll get to see a tiger though. There are little more than 30 Indochinese tigers left in the wild, thanks to habitat destruction and poaching.
When combined with adjoining protected areas in Cambodia this wild region is said to conserve the largest protected forest in Southeast Asia. In this vast forest biologists are still making major discoveries of species not yet recorded. I am very excited at the prospect of hiking through this legendary forest in the coming days.
So far everywhere we have travelled in this country people have showcased their communities’ natural assets. A large part of the tourism industry here involves community members taking you out to see the local beaches, rivers, trails and villages. It gives hope that maybe beautiful creatures like the Indochinese tiger can be seen as worth more alive than dead.
A similar thing occurs in our own beautiful BC. For the past several decades citizens in our home province have been building hiking trails into endangered wilderness and wildlife habitat, in the hopes that our government would see that these special wild places are worth more alive than dead. The successful campaigns to protect the Stein, Carmanah and Elaho Valleys all revolved around trail building projects.
But increasingly under BC Premier Christy Clark, the people’s trails have been under attack. This past Christmas the beautiful little forest at Nanoose Bay just north of Nanaimo was hit with government- approved logging. The local people here had lovingly built a hiking trail into the forest, which is part of the most endangered ecosystem in Canada – the Coastal Douglas Fir Ecosystem. There is less than 2% of this ecosystem remaining in a wild condition. But despite a constant stream of people coming to see the rare plants and animals found there, Premier Clark’s government still OK’d the logging destruction.
Out in the Chilliwack Valley local people face the same fate. People from the Post Creek Community have built a gorgeous little trail into a waterfall near Chilliwack Lake. This area had been set aside for the protection of spotted owl habitat. The spotted owl is said to be Canada’s most endangered bird species and needs forested habitat to survive. Less than a dozen birds hold on in their tattered Canadian habitat.
But in 2011 Premier Clark’s government granted permission for Tamihi logging company to log in the spotted owl habitat near Chilliwack Lake.
The thing is, when a species disappears it’s like a snuffed out candle – that can never ever be re-lit again.
Back in Vietman we eventually reached Dalat safe and sound. And by the time we did the baby girl was all happy again. I remain hopeful that her generation will have their chance to protect tigers and owls and all the other wondrous wild creatures in this world. I am betting that people will prevail against the setbacks we in this generation face from governments which sometimes just don’t seem to give a damn about the future.
Joe Foy is Campaign Director for the Wilderness Committee, Canada’s largest citizen-funded membership-based wilderness preservation organization.