Coastal Douglas-fir Needs Protection

In May, 2013, the Wilderness Committee and ForestEthics Solutions commenced litigation against the B.C. Government over its alleged failure to protect Coastal Douglas-fir forests.

According to its own 1999 paper, the B.C. Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks recognized that:

“[t]owering Douglas-fir forests once dominated a narrow strip of low-lying land along the southeastern coast of Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands, and parts of the Lower Mainland and Sunshine Coast. Now only fragments of these unique ecosystems remain in an old-growth state and we are in danger of losing what is left”.

In discussing why old-growth Douglas-fir forests are important, the paper continued:

“Although old-growth Douglas-fir forests are important for many practical reasons, the most important reason is that they are an essential part of the unique biodiversity of British Columbia. The intrinsic value of a naturally diverse environment is well recognized, and protecting these forests will help maintain the habitats of many plant and animal species”.

Unfortunately, though long-recognized as important, loggers continue to hack down large stands of Douglas-fir to the point that the B.C. Forest Practices Board has estimated that only 1,600km2 still remains as forest and, further, that only 1% (that’s an area smaller than Stanley Park) is in old-growth condition. The result is the Wilderness Committee and ForestEthics Solutions claim.

At the end of February, 2014, EcoJustice was arguing before the B.C. Supreme Court to encourage the Court to find that the government of British Columbia is bound by law to protect the Douglas-fir ecosystem. British Columbia lacks specific legislation to address endangered species and, while the B.C. Ministry of Environment designated the Coastal Douglas-fir as ‘protected’ in 2006, logging has continued since that time.

There is no word, yet, on when the Court will decide on the case, but be sure to stay tuned.

By James Early.