BY SUSAN YATES
I am writing on behalf of the Gulf Islands Alliance, a grassroots, non-profit group with members throughout the Islands Trust Area. Our mandate is to support the Islands Trust in its efforts to preserve and protect the Trust Area. Having seen the awful photographs of recent clear-cut logging on Salt Spring in the May 6 issue of the Driftwood, we want to express our horror at this continued desecration.
For 18 months GIA has been lobbying the Islands Trust to do anything it can, working with the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, to stop this kind of logging in the Trust Area. We have attended three recent Trust Council meetings (going back to March 2019) asking the same thing, each time with more urgency. Here is the latest version of our plea, presented at the March 2020 Trust Council meeting on Salt Spring:
The Gulf Islands Alliance, in its continued efforts to support the legislated mandate of the Islands Trust, is aware that the recent spate of clear-cutting forests for timber sales is a serious threat to the Trust mandate, environment, and citizens’ support for the Islands Trust.
We therefore present to you the following:
• Whereas Trust Council declared a climate emergency in March of this year, and
• Whereas climate change mitigation is emphasized in Council’s support of the Coastal Douglas-fir Toolkit, and
• Whereas two imperatives for climate change mitigation are to reduce CO2 emissions and to protect and restore carbon sinks, and
• Whereas the primary mandate of the Islands Trust is to preserve and protect the natural environment, and
• Whereas tree cover and forests in the Islands Trust Area have, with respect to climate change mitigation, an ecological value far greater than the economic value of timber sales:
We request Trust Council to ask the appropriate ministry to regulate logging in the Trust Area in a manner that supports the Islands Trust Policy and mandate, or to grant the Islands Trust the regulatory tools needed to control forestry activities in the Trust Area.
At the end of the March 2020 Trust Council meeting on Salt Spring, the Trust Executive Committee was directed by council to “follow up with FLNRORD around forest management.” This was a much weaker statement than what GIA has been asking for, but perhaps better than nothing. To date the policy analyst for the Trust has sent four email requests but no meeting has yet been scheduled between FLNRORD and the Trust.
And now, we respectfully submit this letter to the Gulf Islands Driftwood, in support of all those who must bear witness to such senseless destruction in the midst of a climate crisis and in a place that is supposed to have measures of protection for the environment.
With thanks to my fellow GIA members on Pender, Salt Spring, Denman and Gabriola.
The writer is a Gabriola Island GIA member.