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Action Alert: Another Sell-Out of British Columbia's Ancient Temperate Rainforests Possible

Rare mountain caribou threatened by further closed door, secret forest negotiations; survival depends habitat protection across their full range including ending logging of their ancient temperate rainforest habitat

By, a project of EcoInternet - October 9, 2007

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Additional Background

Issued in partnership with Valhalla Wilderness Watch

If you did not like the negotiations that signed away two-thirds of British Columbia's (BC) Great Bear Rainforest for first time industrial logging of priceless ancient temperate rainforests, you will want to know that something even worse is happening in BC, Canada's Inland Temperate Rainforest, home of the world's only mountain caribou. These special caribou are totally dependent upon large areas of intact old-growth forest for their survival. But they are critically endangered and declining rapidly, with only about 1,800 animals left. The reason is that there has been too much logging and road building in their habitat.

The caribou spend most of the year at high elevations, but twice each year they must descend to the valley bottoms to find shelter and food in the lush inland temperate rainforest. It is critical to their survival. This forest type contains ancient cedar trees commonly over 500 years old, and a spectacular array of rare and endangered lichens and plants. The cedar trees are storing huge amounts of carbon. They are needed to help protect the planet from worsening global warming.

Under Canada's "Species at Risk Act", the Province of British Columbia is required to create a plan to save the mountain caribou. After a four year planning process, the province is late filing the plan with the federal government. Over 50 scientists have signed a petition saying that the previous draft plan would not save the mountain caribou, because it protected too little old-growth forest and relied heavily upon killing predators. The scientists said the first priority in the plan should be legislated, full protection of all old-growth caribou forest habitat. Motorized recreation and recreational development in mountain caribou habitat must be aggressively cut back.

Environmental groups have been waiting for the release of the final draft plan, expecting to have an opportunity to make final comments on it. Instead, they have learned that the agency in charge of the planning, the Species at Risk Coordination Office (SARCO), released the plan a month ago only to selected "stakeholders" who had to sign a confidentiality agreement. The agency is now conducting backroom negotiations between the timber industry, winter recreationists and businesses, and environmental groups ForestEthics and Wildsight. Although ForestEthics and Wildsight are supposed to be representing the whole environmental sector, and are networking with some environmental groups, many other environmental groups in BC know nothing about it.

If the past is any guide, the likely outcome will be unrepresentative, foundation based environmental organizations compromising away vast areas of intact ancient temperate rainforest for vague promises that industrial logging will be "ecosystem based" or some other such nonsense. Prompt global citizen response is needed to continue advocating to end ancient forest logging.

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