Dignitaries unite to save BC’s old-growth forests

More than 200 prominent people, from actor Dame Judi Dench and primatologist Jane Goodall to Kukpi7 Judy Wilson, secretary-treasurer of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, have issued an open letter to British Columbia Premier John Horgan urging protection of the province’s old-growth forests.

The letter of Sunday, Oct. 8, supports a similar initiative launched by the environmental nonprofit Canopy in June to protect iconic old-growth forests.

Signers told Horgan that the province used to be “the land of giants with trees up and down the coast towering 250 feet hall, but that today only a fraction of these old-growth forests remain.”

“For thousands of years, these forests have protected us,” they wrote. “Now we need to protect them.”

The letter was distributed by the nonprofit entity Canopy, with offices in Vancouver, B.C., Montreal and London. In forest ecology, the word “canopy” refers to the upper layer or habitat zone of a tree formed by mature tree crowns and including other biological organisms.

“Elder trees are vital for ensuring the health and survival of forests,” Wilson said, “Only when old growth thrives can we have forests that are not only capable of sustaining the cultural needs and livelihood of indigenous peoples but are more resilient to wildfires and climate change as well. The premier has said the old growth situation is a crisis – now he needs to treat it like one by immediately protecting these forests once and for all. Inaction and half-hearted measures can no longer be afforded as our forests continue to bear the brunt of devastating climate change impacts.”

Goodall, a UN Messenger of Peace and founder of the Jane Goodall Institute, said the forests of British Columbia are not only majestic links to the past but homes to endemic species and many people.

“It is increasingly urgent that we raise our voices on behalf of the world’s forests, not only because of the many benefits they offer, but as part of our legacy to our children and theirs,” she said. “Every ancient tree felled, every species that becomes extinct, represents another threat to the future of our planet.”