BC forest march: Tell Premier Horgan to implement Old-Growth Review Panel advice

BC forest march: Tell Premier Horgan to implement Old-Growth Review Panel advice

Old-growth logging in the Caycuse region  |  Photo courtesy of the Anciet Forest Alliance

BC forest march: Tell Premier Horgan to implement Old-Growth Review Panel advice

By Guest Writer

About 100 people from Campbell River and Courtenay joined a province-wide
Forest March BC day of action on March 19 to call on Premier Horgan to honour his commitment to fully implement the recommendations of the Old Growth Review Panel.

The Review Panel found that since BC has allowed 97 percent of BC’s ancient forests to be logged, we are reaching a wide spread biodiversity crisis and we must make a fundamental change in the way we manage forests. The panel said it should be a prime mandate to protect ecosystems and to shift to sustainable second-growth forestry management with support for affected forestry workers.

Under the heading, “Immediate Response”, the Review Panel recommended that within six months, or “until a new strategy is implemented, defer development in old forests where ecosystems are at very high and near-term risk of irreversible biodiversity loss.”

But the six months have passed and BC Forestry Minister Conroy say the province has to keep logging Old Growth while the government puts management plans in place.

“It’s now or never” for old-growth forests

“But the whole point of the Panel’s recommendation to halt Old Growth logging was so there would be something left to protect under the new management plans,” Gillian Anderson told Decafnation. Anderson is the spokesperson for the Forest March organizing group.

The Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs has also called on the province to immediately defer logging in all threatened Old Growth forests and to implement all Panel recommendations.

But, despite these actions, the province has scheduled logging of Fairy Creek, the last unprotected watershed valley in southern Vancouver Island, and defenders who have endured months of winter on a blockade there now face possible arrest

The Review Panel also called for support for forest workers and Indigenous communities as they adapt from Old Growth logging to a sustainable second-growth forestry industry.

“The government is only just now working on these transition plans, yet John Horgan has had four years to put such recommended management plans into place after his pledge in 2017 to bring in sustainable forestry management,” Anderson said. “Instead he went on to log a million acres of old-growth forests even as BC lost six forestry jobs a day.”

Anderson added that Forest Minister Conroy’s much-vaunted ‘deferment’ of logging in 353,000 hectares turned out to be under closer scrutiny only 3800 hectares of actual at-risk Old Growth.

“Premier Horgan wants the credit for creating an Old Growth Review Panel and the credit for promising to abide by its recommendations – even as he continues to allow logging of the remnants of this once mighty ecosystem against the Panel’s specific and urgent recommendation,” she said.

Virtually none of the recommended funding has been dedicated for the transition to sustainable, second-growth forestry or for conservation set-asides.

Meanwhile, BC taxpayers continue to subsidize the forestry industry (cutting publicly owned trees including old growth) by $365 million annually, according to the Forest March BC Rally team. They say Old Growth forests are worth more standing than a one-time stumpage fee, as they support sustainable economic, cultural and recreational opportunities including fisheries, tourism, carbon offset projects and non-timber forest products.

Friday’s rally participants urged people to call the premier’s office to implement the Old Growth Review Panel recommendations for the immediate moratorium on Old Growth logging (250-387-1715 or premier@gov.bc.ca).

“With so little of B.C. iconic Ancient Forests left, it’s truly now or never,” Anderson said.

 

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Free webinar lectures on herring and the protection of natural shorelines in the Salish Sea

Free webinar lectures on herring and the protection of natural shorelines in the Salish Sea

Herring fishing near Denman and Hornby island in the 1980s  | Bob Cain photo

Free webinar lectures on herring and the protection of natural shorelines in the Salish Sea

By Guest Writer

The demise of the Salish Sea’s unique population of our resident killer whales confirms what biologists increasingly recognize: that the Salish Sea is “a collapsed ecosystem.”

The food chains that support the chinook salmon populations on which orcas depend have been largely driven to extinction through the destruction of beaches and estuaries that support forage fish on which chinook depend as well as through overfishing.

In keeping with its educational and civic mandate Comox Valley Nature presents a week-long series of five (5) free public lectures on the state, importance and protection of natural green shorelines for herring and forage fish starting Monday, Feb. 22 and ending Friday, Feb. 26 at 10 am.

Although overfishing is an important current public concern, shoreline armouring is no less responsible, even though it is politically overlooked. The state of Washington has recently passed very progressive laws that place the responsibility squarely on landowners, industries and municipalities to reduce and even remove hard armouring detrimental to fish habitat.

To restore BC’s fisheries to a semblance of their original productivity BC must take similar steps. The University of Victoria’s Environmental Law Centre recently published an important report: “Saving Orcas by Protecting Fish-Spawning Beaches”. The report explores legal avenues to enable similar legislation within Canadian law.

Dr. John Nielson (DFO) will kick things off with an overview of the state of herring off Cape Lazo. That will be followed on Tuesday by the UVic Environmental Law Centre presentation.

On Wednesday, Feb. 24 internationally Dr Ignacio Vilchis from San Diego Zoo who is internationally recognized for his work on the negative impacts of hard shores on seabird populations will present “Assessing seabird ecological correlates to inform conservation.”

On Thursday, Feb. 25, Dr Robert Rangeley from the non-profit “Oceana” will present a report on Canadian Fisheries and the importance of forage fish in “Rebuilding fisheries: unlocking Canada’s potential for abundant oceans .

The series will close with Salish Sea Herring Archaeology, an eye-opening overview of the state of herring before contact, as revealed from archaeological reconstructions, by UVic’s Dr Iain McKechnie.

The series is hosted for Comox Valley Nature by the Canadian Society of Environmental Biologists. The webinars are free and open to the public. URL’s for registration is can be found at the CVN website under the heading “CSEB Webinars”,

CVN is a non-profit always welcomes new members. Inquiries should be directed to Dr L. Maingon (250 331 0143). Parties interested in the status of herring in the Salish Sea are encouraged to also sign up for the Hornby Island Herringfest.

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Let’s vaccinate the whole world against the COVID-19 virus as we did with polio

Let’s vaccinate the whole world against the COVID-19 virus as we did with polio

Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash

Let’s vaccinate the whole world against the COVID-19 virus as we did with polio

By Guest Writer

BY LORA E. PETERS, CROSSCUT

There was a time when the good of the world was put ahead of the profit of a nation or a company. Polio ran wild throughout the world, debilitating millions of children for decades until doctors Jonas Salk and Albert Sabin developed the vaccine in 1955, still in use today.

When CBS reporter Edward R. Murrow asked Salk who owned the vaccine, Salk responded, “Well, the people, I would say. There is no patent. Can you patent the sun?” Salk never patented his vaccine, thereby creating what we would call today an “open source” vaccine available for replication throughout the world. Within a generation, polio was nearly eradicated from the planet.

As of this writing, nearly 1.5 million people have died of COVID-19 all over the world. That’s twice the population of Seattle. Pharmaceutical companies have teamed up with major universities in a race to find the vaccine to stop this pandemic in its tracks.

Now they report success. They’ve found the virus’s vulnerability and engineered ways to block it. This is the most exciting news of 2020. What a triumph!

“This is one instance where capitalism’s market-as-driver is in direct conflict with a greater moral imperative”

Right on its heels comes news of hackers who have attempted to access proprietary data that would reveal the formulations for these vaccines, potentially allowing anyone to create and distribute their own vaccines. Tom Burt, Microsoft’s corporate vice president for customer security and trust, dedicated an entire blog post last month to the horrors of this hacking. And, in a recent KIRO 7 report, journalist Gary Horcher explained, “The country able to reopen their economy first would suddenly have a geopolitical advantage worth untold billions of dollars.”

The moral imperative undergirding Salk’s response to the question about patent seems nowhere to be found in the current conversation about vaccines. Instead of offering free, worldwide access to the formulas, thereby allowing all governments the ability to work together for quick, local development and distribution, pharmaceutical companies, universities and governments are spending millions of dollars on cybersecurity companies to hide their formulas from the world.

Imagine everyone in your neighbourhood is dying of a highly contagious illness, and you all know Neighbor X has come up with a cure. Rather than give everyone in the neighbourhood the cure, Neighbor X builds a wall and hires security guards to stand atop the wall and keep everyone out.

The entire neighbourhood can hear Neighbor X’s family laughing and partying away. Meanwhile, neighbours continue to die. Your child dies.

Horcher observed in his report that the motivation for protecting the vaccine formula is a presumption of financial advantage. There is much wrong with this view of the world, steeped as it is in a form of what some are calling vaccine nationalism.

What Horcher didn’t say, but can be inferred, is what will happen to those countries that are not first to vaccinate. Not only will they not make “untold billions of dollars,” their citizens will die at an unnecessary rate. And what impact will that have on their future trust and relationships with the countries that held the vaccines behind cyber walls?

Let’s make the formulas public and allow scientists around the world to have free access to replicate the results. This provides local control and a standard against which health systems can ensure the safety of the vaccine, while simultaneously providing distribution to billions of people by creating hundreds of sources, thus eradicating the virus more quickly.

Like the post-World War II Marshall Plan, in which the U.S. provided the equivalent of $217 million toward the recovery of European countries, there is much to be gained in helping the rest of the world recover.

Contrary to the 1980s adage, in this case, greed is not good. Greed is death. This is one instance where capitalism’s market-as-driver is in direct conflict with a greater moral imperative.

As we move into this season of giving, shouldn’t we rely more on, “love thy neighbour as thyself” and provide the world with free and equal access to all information about the vaccine?

As major stakeholders who have contributed great amounts of money, space, training and other resources to the research facilities of these universities, we have a right, in fact, an obligation, to demand just that.

Crosscut is a service of Cascade Public Media, a nonprofit, public media organization. Visit crosscut.com/membership to support independent journalism.

 

 

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Rob Thompson: SD 71 trustee candidate looks at the future of education post-pandemic

Rob Thompson: SD 71 trustee candidate looks at the future of education post-pandemic

Rob Thompson, candidate for the Area C position on the Comox Valley School Board  |  Submitted photo

Rob Thompson: SD 71 trustee candidate looks at the future of education post-pandemic

By Guest Writer

BY ROB THOMPSON

At this stage, we should be preparing for worst-case scenario. Covid-Coronavirus is showing no signs of dissipating soon. The remainder of this item is offered with absolute respect and is in no way intended to make light of the situation. People are passing away from this disease.

That said, the pandemic eventually will loosen its grasp on our lives and our economy, and we will have fiscal liabilities remaining at every level of government – Federal, Provincial, Municipal. One way of offsetting at least some of these deficits will be to use the most cost-effective methods for the delivery of services.

Online-virtual education at Kindergarten-Grade 12 level seems set to be one of these cost-effective services.

I did an MA in Leadership at Royal Roads on the cusp of this century, completing a thesis in implementing online education (k-12). I was then hired by RRU to, over the next decade-plus. instruct cohorts of administrators, both domestic and international, in which technologies-programs at the time best suited K-12 learners – and to instruct teachers, both domestic and international, in how best to utilize the technologies selected to engage K-12 learners to maximum effect.

My situation was therefore balanced positively, as I was working with K-12 administrators and teachers at the same time I was working with secondary school students themselves day-to-day.

I am in the process of completing my Education Doctorate, with a thesis on the topic of what K-12 learners in this current (2020) decade bring to the table in terms of preferences, skills, knowledge and attributes. The majority proportion of these students seem well prepared to maximize their learning in online-virtual environments, quite possibly reducing the need for as many face-to-face learning sessions and therefore reducing the need for as many face-to-face spaces.

I don’t claim to know everything about these complex areas of education.

Nor do I know everything about every one of the learners in the K-12 pipeline. They are your daughters and your sons: you know them better than anyone. So we will need you to step up and engage in the conversation. If elected as a Trustee for SD71, I will invite you to participate in this conversation.

There is nothing to say there is not a ‘sweet spot’ (a mix of online-virtual and face-to-face learning experiences) that extends each child’s learning to the maximum possible for that child.

With that in mind, space is space. Space can be used by any number of processes. Down island, the kilns of a no longer functioning mill have been converted to both work and office spaces for small businesses. Imagine a scenario where fewer face-to-face learning experiences mean consolidation of existing ‘schools’ into fewer buildings – leaving the remaining buildings for, well, housing, or offices, or other necessary, potential revenue-creating activities.

Education for every child remains my priority – and my focus should I be elected Trustee.

That includes the possibilities that might become available for our indigenous children. Imagine the possibilities of an indigenous child from our community joining an online-virtual environment shared by other indigenous children located internationally, with all of that access to countless centuries of ‘ways of knowing’ and techniques of knowledge dissemination.

All of this is possible. Vote for me, and let’s fire up the conversation.

 

AREA C VOTERS TO ELECT NEW SCHOOL BOARD TRUSTEE

Due to the resignation of the formerly elected Area C representative, voters will go to the polls on Saturday, Dec. 12 to choose a new school board trustee. The six candidates are:

Randi Baldwin, Kandice Bielert, Monica Parkin, Terence Pruden, Cristi May Sacht and Robert Thompson.

All candidates are welcome to submit articles for publication on this website.

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Obituary: Fr. Charles Brandt, first Catholic hermit priest in several hundred years

Obituary: Fr. Charles Brandt, first Catholic hermit priest in several hundred years

Fr. Charles in his studio at The Hermitage  |  George Le Masurier photo

Obituary: Fr. Charles Brandt, first Catholic hermit priest in several hundred years

By Guest Writer
Written by Bruce Witzel

Rev. Charles Brandt noted conservationist, hermit monk, and priest of the Diocese of Victoria, died in the early hours of Sunday, October 25. A spiritual guide and inspiration to many beyond the Catholic Church, Charles was in the North Island Hospital in Comox Valley at the time of his death from pneumonia. He was in his 97th year.

Father Brandt lived for nearly five decades at his forested hermitage next to Oyster River. In 2019, those 27 acres were put into a permanent land conservancy and Charles has bequeathed the property to the Comox Valley Regional District for use as a public park. An active contemplative person of prayer who has concern for the Sacred Commons will live in the hermitage to follow in Charles’ footsteps.

Brandt was the sole surviving member of a unique hermit community originally established in 1964 near the Tsolum River in Merville, B.C. Bishop Remi De Roo ordained Brandt in 1966 as the first hermit priest in several hundred years within the Roman Catholic Church. This
eremitical tradition had fallen into disuse in western churches after the Reformation and was reconstituted through later reforms of the Second Vatican Council 1962-65, in which a young Remi De Roo participated.

Brandt was in communication with world-famous Trappist monk and author, Thomas Merton, about joining the community on Vancouver Island in 1968 at the time of Merton's death. Brandt had originally entered monastic life as a Trappist at New Melleray, Iowa.

Brandt earned his keep as an art and paper conservationist by setting up a special lab at his hermitage. He gained world renown for restoring many historical books like The Nuremberg Chronicles printed in 1493, many older bibles, and one of the original books of The Audubon Series.

He taught Christian meditation practice at the hermitage and led other retreats, inspiring many people over the decades. He occasionally filled in as a parish priest in The Comox Valley and Campbell River. 

Father Brandt rose at 3 AM to meditate, read psalms and practice daily liturgy. During early hours, he often meandered into nature to observe birds and wildlife and to take photographs. In his book Self and Environment, he describes this walking meditation as a time when “Every atom of my being is present to every atom in the universe, and they to it.”

In later years, Brandt was much celebrated in public ways which included media profiles and reports on his pioneer environmental work. He is credited with heading up the effort that saved the Tsolum River from industrial degradation.

His stature as a spiritual teacher as well as his whole legendary reputation as someone who integrated spirituality with ecology will live on after him in the lives and efforts of the many people he directly inspired.

Fr. Charles is survived by his sister-in-law, Wanda Brandt, and numerous nephews, nieces and their children and grandchildren in the Kansas City area and around the United States. He was predeceased by his parents, Anna (nee Bridges) and Alvin Brandt, brothers Frank and Chet, and sisters Frances, Mary and Ella.

Donations in remembrance of Charles can be made to St. Andrews Cathedral in Victoria, the Tsolum River Restoration Society, Comox Valley Nature Society, the Oyster River Enhancement Society or the Brandt Oyster River Hermitage Society.

FURTHER READING: A Long and Winding Journey

 

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