When the movie Avatar made its debut, it caught the hearts of people everywhere as they empathized with the Navi, a people whose world and way of life was threatened by the intrusion of a huge profit-focused corporation. What most fail to realize is the very same thing is happening right now - here in the real world, in our own country – in the West Chilcotin of interior British Columbia.
When the provincial government decreased the number of forest districts by increasing the area covered by each, it left the door open for the major forestry corporations – West Fraser, Tolko and government-owned BCTS – to extend their operations into areas previously out of their reach. These companies, having overcut their own operating areas for the past seven years, have now marched into the last green forests of the BC Interior.
Every day more reports come in from local ranchers, wilderness operators and First Nations communities – expressions of dismay at the thousands of ribbons circling trees as the major forestry companies compete to claim vast tracts of previously untouched green forest in the West Chilcotin. No formal application has been made to government and no consultation has been made with local First Nations and other residents. This is a fact, and it’s still happening as you read this letter – and yet no one seems to know about it beyond our local borders.
If these corporations are allowed to log the vast areas they have walked in and claimed, it will destroy a way of life for the communities in West Chilcotin that has existed for hundreds of years. Gone will be the world famous fishing of Nimpo Lake, Tatla Lake and many others. Gone will be the endangered Woodlands Caribou and other wildlife at risk. Gone will be the employment provided by wilderness tourism and small local logging companies that know how to conduct business without endangering sensitive ecologies.
How could such a thing happen while the rest of the province sleeps? If you think that you live too far away for this to be your concern, think again. It would take almost a hundred years for these forests to grow back. Forests that beneficially affect the air you breathe and the temperature you feel every day. Think of going on vacation to find that ugly stumps and scarred earth is all that remains of the beautiful landscapes that surrounded you last year.
The Forest Review Board convenes in two weeks, after which it will be too late to protest if they grant West Fraser, Tolko and BCTS the logging rights they wish to claim in the green forests of the West Chilcotin. PLEASE, write, email or phone the BC Forest Practices Board or Minster of Forests Steve Thomson. Write to your local editor or put it on Facebook, but get involved and prevent the large scale logging of these major corporations in the last green forests of British Columbia.
A very concerned resident of Anahim Lake, in the West Chilcotin, BC