A new report issued by a coalition of Canadian and US conservation groups has revealed West Fraser Timber, Tolko Industries and the BC government’s BC Timber Sales Program to be the top loggers of mountain caribou habitat in BC. The new Mountain Caribou Project report documents approved logging of more than 54,000 hectares of old-growth forest caribou habitat in BC.
In a report released last fall the BC Forest Practices Board, provincial watchdog for forest management, stated that, “Current science suggests that if older forests continue to be fragmented and mountain caribou continue to be lost to predators, the final opportunity to restore mountain caribou in the province will soon be lost.”
“This new information shows that despite the urgency highlighted in the Forest Practices Board report, it is business as usual for the timber industry in mountain caribou habitat. Will the newly-elected BC government do the right thing, and enact a moratorium on logging and road-building in caribou habitat until recovery plans can be developed and implemented?” said Candace Batycki of ForestEthics.
Mountain caribou are completely dependent on large tracts of intact old-growth forest in southeast BC and parts of three US states for their survival. The BC, Canadian and US governments consider mountain caribou to be in danger of extinction. The number of mountain caribou has fallen from 2,400 in 1997 to ~1,670 today.
“Claims by the BC government that they are protecting mountain caribou are little more than lip service,” said Devon Page, staff lawyer for Sierra Legal Defence Fund. “There are no laws to protect habitat and the laws we do have expressly prioritize logging above all else – little wonder this tragedy is happening.”
“The same government charged with recovering this animal is also approving the logging that will make recovery much more difficult, if not impossible,” said John Bergenske of Wildsight. “Worse, the BC government’s own BC Timber Sales Program is the third-largest logger of mountain caribou habitat. Mountain caribou live nowhere else on the planet. Where is the leadership here?”
“We sincerely hope that BC can find a way to protect this animal throughout its current range, otherwise it will be impossible for us to maintain them in the US. This report is not very encouraging,” said Joe Scott of Northwest Ecosystem Alliance.
The Mountain Caribou Project includes: Applied Ecological Stewardship Council, ForestEthics, Fraser Headwaters Alliance, Lands Council, Northwest Ecosystem Alliance, Quesnel River Watershed Alliance, Shuswap Environmental Action Society, and Wildsight.