ELF Letter to Honourable Steve Thomson

November 5, 2016 –
Honourable Steve Thomson,
Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.

In a recent letter to your office, copied to local papers on the Sunshine Coast, Glen Bonderud, president of the Sunshine Coast Community Forest (SCCF), makes some misleading, deceptive remarks regarding the proposed expansion of Mt. Elphinstone Park. Please consider that Mr. Bonderud is in a conflict of interest situation in this matter since part of the Community Forest license area is within the proposed park.

Mr. Bonderud starts by stating that “The SCCF is very concerned about another 1500-2500 ha park”. While there are some parks of this size in the region, they largely consist of high elevation marginal forest and clear cut areas. What is exceptional about the proposed Mt. Elphinstone Park or protected area is that, due to its particular unique history, it is the only intact large area of natural low-elevation forest left on the Sunshine Coast. According to your Ministry’s own data most of the proposed park area (80%) is comprised of blue listed (species of concern) plant communities. Professional biologists, the Sunshine Coast Regional District (Bylaw 641), the Sechelt First Nation, the Sierra Club, and many others support protecting this, what has become a rare, ecosystem.

In his letter Mr. Bonderud goes on to link this year’s protest activities against logging in the proposed Park area with a fire in 2015 which tragically claimed the life of a community member. We consider this to be insensitive and disrespectful since Mr. Bonderud knows very well that there is absolutely no connection to this tragedy. Incidentally the 2015 fire was in the Community Forest license area.

Regarding local jobs Mr. Bonderud also knows that not a single permanent job is created from the sporadic sale of BC Timber Sales (BCTS) cut blocks. The forest is cut down, using a feller buncher, the logs are trucked out – end of job creation. On top of that all the timber from the logging leaves the coast unprocessed, as does over 90% of the timber from SCCF logging.

Mr. Bonderud refers to the 1.3 million the government received for the sale of cut block 87125. In a major study, released in 2010, of the value of ecosystem services in BC’s Lower Mainland, it was found that forests provide benefits in terms of climate regulation, water supply, and flood protection and water regulation of $5,900 to $7,400 per hectare per year. Based on 1500 ha of intact forest remaining in the Elphinstone forest this works out to about 10 million a year. Good value indeed for the whole Sunshine Coast, compared to the little gifts that the SCCF hands out from their “Legacy Fund” to community groups in hopes that it will buy their consent.

We agree with the editorial in the Vancouver Sun, September 24, 2016, which says “There is a legitimate discussion to be had about the value of old-growth forests, about whether what remains…is sufficiently protected”. It also calls for more leadership from Victoria to find common ground. We think this leadership should start with the declaration of a moratorium on any further logging in the proposed park area to allow the government as the editorial says “to serve as an intermediary in such conflicts by providing clear, science-based, arm’s-length evidence as the foundation for an even-handed conversation”.

Respectfully,

Hans Penner, For Elphinstone Logging Focus

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