Monday, July 17, 2017

Clear-Cutting BC Forests to a Fiery Extinction




Clear-Cutting BC Forests to a Fiery Extinction


 

Why are BC Forests going up in smoke and fire?  Is it climate change?  A natural phenomena? Yes and no, but mostly no.  It is primarily bad forest management, originating in the practice of industrial clear-cut logging.  This practice has been   agreed to by all levels of government and judiciary in BC (and the federal court) in order not to annoy the international logging companies. Dr. Lori Daniels, Associate Professor in the UBC Faculty of Forestry, (also runs the Tree Ring lab) in an interview to E-KNOW: 

 

“In the past 60 years, despite warmer temperatures, fires essentially were eliminated from many forests due to very effective fire suppression,” she said. ”In the absence of fire, tree density and fuels can build-up, increasing the chance of a severe fire.”  Dr. Daniels believes that by trying to protect our forests and communities from surface fires that clear the forests of a buildup of combustible materials, we simply make the possibility of severe fires, like the ones sweeping  our province at the moment  not only possible, but predictable.

 

And who is most adamant about the suppression of any fire, even the ones needed to clear the forests of flammable materials of dry undergrowth and dead forest debris?  In order to avoid the horrendous damages as the ones occurring now?  Of course, the industrial logging companies.  The needed surface fires, as First Nations people knew and practiced, were forbidden by the industrial logging companies as this might cause some loss of trees that would hinder their bottom line. Dr. Daniels continues: “We made a decision decades ago that fire had only negative effects on the forest and we valued the forests for economic reasons…”

 

Aw, those economic reasons of the industrial logging companies that now leave our province a tinderbox! Parks Canada ecologist Donna Crossland of Nova Scotia in speaking of clear- cutting in relation to forest fires: “Fire does not remove the trunk wood of living trees, but clear cutting and biomass harvests are removing nearly everything…so it’s a false claim that clear-cuts approximate natural disturbances…”  She adds that clearcutting also contributes to the depletion of carbon in Nova Scotia soils, and that 60 percent of soils in that province are nutrient depleted.


When the BC fires currently raging finally die down, the one good thing that could come from this is a closer look at how clear-cutting by industrial logging is killing our forests and severely damaging our province. I haven’t forgotten Chief Justice Beverly McLachlin. Her rulings on when and how protesters must be arrested played such an important role in my activist life (and the life of this province) I can’t believe I misspelled her name in my last posting, for which I apologize.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

BC Forest Fires and Madam Chief Justice Beverly McLachlan


Why do I link the name of Madam Chief Justice Beverly McLachlan with BC forest fires currently raging? Because of the way her judicial decisions threw forest protesters under the bus and left them there without a hope in hades of winning any court decision for the right to peacefully protest the deforestation and degradation of public forests. Our forests have been left unattended for years in order to appease international logging companies. The companies insist on clear cutting. This method leaves degraded soils, loss of animal habitat, demolition of large acreages of trees that hold moisture, and enormous piles of combustible tree trash left behind for fuel in which to start and feed forest fires. The giant logging companies who steal our public trees and ruin the land don’t believe in controlled burnings to rid the forest of combustible materials, the way aboriginal cultures did. Why? This ancient method of controlling forest fires might endanger some of the company’s immediate profits.

When pesky protestors arrive at a logging site, the companies don’t call the police as they should, but instead send company lawyers scurrying to find a judge and ask for an injunction to make the protesters leave. An injunction is an order given by an individual judge. If a protester refuses to obey this judge’s order, then the protester is arrested and charged. The charge won’t fall under the protections and provisions of the Criminal Code of Canada which is the law of the land; the way all other charges are made. Instead of being charged with trespassing, or blocking a road, etc., which are misdemeanors (a minor wrong doing) the charge will go outside the Criminal Code and become something really scary. A protestor finds himself or herself inside a court room being charged with Contempt of Court, a charge that has no legal protections. The charge of contempt of court thrusts a protestor into a lawless land that somehow is being conducted as though it were legal. This individual judge, if annoyed with you, can sentence you, as one did to me and fellow protester Barney Kern, to a year in prison without possibility of parole, for peacefully protesting the destruction of public forests.

And that is the way the industrial logging companies like it, along with the courts, the attorneys general and the Crown. The attorneys generals are lazy and uncaring in these environmental protest matters, as are the police and the Crown. These bodies that are supposed to protect the right of freedom and speech and the freedom of assembly all know very well what they should do which is to arrest under the auspices of the criminal code which protects everybody, not leave protesters to the spiteful whims of individual judges. These people who are supposed to protect the public equally, but don’t, all know each other well and hang together.

Madam Chief Justice McLachlan certainly proved her membership in the club when she made this definitive ruling concerning environmental protesters. This ruling lays out how a protester can be stripped of his or her legal right to the protections and provisions of the criminal code as all others charged before the court have, and instead be charged and jailed outside the law. Next time: Exactly what Chief Madam Justice wrote…and how the effect of this ruling is playing out in the devastation of our province by industrial greed and increasingly, fire. Let us hold all people and creatures, both wild and domestic, in our thoughts during this time for all those affected by fire.

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Disappearance of B.C. Public Forests by Judicial Decree


Disappearance of BC Public Forests by Judicial Decree


B.C. judges and attorneys general haven’t t actually gone out into unceded native lands (public land) with tree fallers riding bull dozers, but they might as well have done.  The effect was the same. The old growth forests have effectually vanished and second growth tree farms are disappearing fast. And the forest carnage is ongoing. The unrelenting protection of the courts for destructive, soil destroying clear cutting by multinational logging companies has the same effect as if the judges, accompanied by the attorneys general and the officers of the Crown, tore off their robes and dark suits and joined the loggers in the field.


The loggers have an excuse for doing what they do.  They, and their families, have to eat.  The judges and the attorney generals of course are well educated, usually from upper class backgrounds, and well connected in moneyed circles. They also have to eat, but they are paid well enough they have choices working loggers don’t have.  But the judges and attorneys generals as a group have chosen to protect, not BC land and the wonders it produces for everyone, but the big bucks of ruthless logging companies. This judicial licking of multinational companies’ boots began back in 1952 under B.C.’s Premier W.A. Bennet’s reign (Social Credit). 


Robert Sommers, Bennet’s Minister of Lands, Mines and Forests, through some irresponsible deal-making found himself behind bars for accepting bribes in exchange for a very large tree farm license to BCFP (British Colombia Forest Products).  However, while Sommers was convicted of receiving bribes from BCFP, the company was not charged for giving the bribes. Chief Justice J.O. Wilson completely exonerated BCFP.  Not only that, BCFP was allowed to keep this tree farm license that covered vast acreages. It has since been sold, cut up, resold, and added to like a jigsaw puzzle until I don’t believe there is a large tree farm license in this province that isn’t grounded in judicial corruption. What should be done?  Or can be done?  After all, that happened back in the 50’s. But so what?  


In my opinion every tree farm license in this province should be rescinded until and unless it can be proven its license don’t included parts of that original corrupt decision by O.J. Wilson which charged and jailed the receiver  and but rewarded the giver. Next time… How BC Chief Madam Justice Beverly McLaughlin added the last boot-licking gift to the vicious multinational logging corporations in B.C. before she was promoted to Chief Justice of Canada.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Vicki Husband got it right



Vicky Husband is a long time conservationist in BC, well known for her opposition to industrial logging in the forests of BC. When asked her opinion about new soft wood negotiations coming up between Canada and the US in an  interview with the Tyee (Oct. 2016) Husband  said that the US has a right to complain that BC softwood (which includes cedar, hemlock, pine and fir) is subsidized.   She cited facts such as that of a logging company on Vancouver Island that pays as little as 27 cents in stumpage fees to the government for a cubic meter of timber from public forests, an amount about the size of a telephone pole.   Adding that the industry was poorly managed, she said “They are getting away with murder.  I know that.” 

 

I know it, too.  So do many other people, both inside and outside the logging industry.  And they have been getting away with murder from the very first tree farm license that was given out.  But that is another story.  In this story I want to emphasize something else…the fact that “public forests” in our province is a euphemism for aboriginal land.  Public forests are almost all on unceded native land.  There have been no treaties settled between First Nations and any reigning government officials for the majority of these lands. And the way things are going, and have gone, when and if the claims are eventually settled and rights to the land given back to First Nations the lands will be ruined.  They will be stripped of valuable old growth forests and the land itself will be degraded by tree farming. 

 

Harriet Nahanee arrested at Eagleridge Bluffs in May, 2006.

In my opinion this is a time for First Nations people to step forward and interject their own land claims into these softwood negotiations. They have a right to demand a hearing in the negotiations.  It is their claims to the land and their protests that need to be heard.  We all have a human investment as well as an environmental one in stressing that it is the uncaring industrial logging methods of clear cutting, monoculture planting and the increasing use of machinery that tears up the forest for us all. Vicky husband is right…the logging companies are getting away with murder, murder of the land while cheating us all by making us pay for the privilege.  And I will add another murder…the murder of First Nations’ land rights.