Several communities in B.C. have joined together for one cause: to push for change within the province’s forestry industry.
Taryn Skalbania, director of the Peachland Watershed Protection Alliance (PWPA), said the reason Peachland is joining the fight is because residents have no say in what happens in their backyards.
“There’s so many of us with the same issues so we decided to all join hands and push the government to change that,” she said.
“We want communities to have a say in what happens in their backyards and their watersheds.”
Enter ForestMarchBC, a grassroots campaign with the goal of creating a “unified voice to tell the government that B.C. residents want forestry reform”. To do that, ForestMarchBC organizers have put together a week-long summit from Sept. 10 to Sept. 15, ending in a public march on Sept. 18. Skalbania said during the summit, people can expect to be educated on forestry industry practices and the effects of old-growth forest logging.
Besides Peachland, marches are scheduled for Victoria, Powell River, Nanaimo, Whistler, Comox Valley, Gabriola Island, Vancouver, and Golden. Elizabeth May is slated to join the Victoria march at the legislature.
Skalbania said mills are closing because of over logging and logging has become more expensive and difficult.
“The profits just aren’t there and we haven’t quite changed what the face of our logging industry looks like, and that’s what we’re asking for. We want an immediate stop to old-growth logging or primary forest logging.”
“Peachland especially, we’ve found that we have less than 30 to 40 per cent of our natural forest left and clear-cuts and burns and tree farms just don’t give you the essential benefits that we need: water, wildlife habitat, flood control and a resilient and healthy forest, which is what we need,” Skalbania said.
She said that ultimately, the campaign asks the government to help people on the ground like her and others involved with ForestMarchBC.
“We’re just community groups, but we’re the people on the ground. We know what’s not working in our communities. We know that deforestation causes flooding and we suffer those consequences. We’re asking the government instead of pushing back, to help us and support us and let communities have a say in what happens to their forests.”
The Peachland march will start at noon on Friday, Sept. 18. The march will start off at the Peachland Visitor Centre and finish off at Heritage Park with speeches, drumming and singing.
For more information on the online summit as well as other communities’ marches, visit ForestMarchBC’s website.