Responding to Greenpeace’s Acknowledgement of Ancient Forest Logging Complicity

In response to our network's unprecedented expression of dismay over the Internet to fellow conservationists that are deeply involved in the promotion of industrial certified forest logging, Greenpeace Canada has issued this response which was probably sent to many of you. Below is a point by point rebuttal and follow-up questions that should be asked to Greenpeace and others supporting the ancient forest logging in Canada's temperate rainforests and elsewhere.
The point is that some day relatively soon there will be no ancient forests to log. The question is whether there will be any large ancient forest landscapes remaining or not at that time. Do you really think that after 80% is logged the industry is not going to go after the remaining 20% that is “protected”? The Earth is not going to be sustained by “saving what we can” – this is not adequate to maintain ecosystems upon which we utterly depend for life. It is going to be saved by confronting and ending practices which are destroying it. To be continuing to log ancient forests at this late date is literally killing us.
Ultimately what we want is for the formerly ground-breaking and effective campaign organizations to stop negotiating acceptable levels of ancient forest harvests, and to work to end ancient forest logging by disassociating themselves from the “consensus” and resuming their market campaigns.

Tell Greenpeace, WWF and Friends to Stop Promoting Old-Growth Logging
Please use the talking points below respond to Greenpeace's email, to resend a protest email above or directly to each of the organizations:
Forest Ethics –
Greenpeace –
Rainforest Action Network –
Sierra Club of Canada, BC Chapter –
* Ancient Forests – The big news to come out of Greenpeace's response is their first time direct acknowledgement of not only complicity but outright promotion of logging of Canada's ancient temperate rainforests. For years has been discussing that mainstream groups had over hyped and uncritically embraced the alleged promised of “industrial certified forestry” to be a desirable forest conservation outcome in old-growth forests. This was met by silence, disdain and ridicule. Now we have Greenpeace saying flat out they support ancient forest logging. If only the rest could be so honest. The new paradigm to which they refer sounds like a sell-out to continued industrial logging of millions of acres of ancient rainforests in return for vague promises.
*Indigenous Issues – Greenpeace leads off with a strong statement that they are for industrial logging of ancient forests to benefit indigenous peoples. Is Greenpeace suggesting that the way to alleviate the poverty of indigenous peoples in the area is to allow multi-national corporations to liquidate their rainforests? Why stop there? Whaling or storage of nuclear waste could surely generate revenue as well. Simply, the scale of industrial harvest endorsed by Greenpeace is unsustainable, and short-term income from heavy first time industrial logging of the area's forest heritage will not sustainably improve the lives of the Great Bear Rainforest's indigenous and other populations. If Greenpeace was primarily concerned about sustainable forestry for poverty alleviation, they would advocate dismantling of the current largely log export industry and development of local community based eco-forestry management and wood crafting industries.
*Levels of Protection – Greenpeace states only 66% of the Great Bear Rainforest will be destroyed (33% protected) under their plan, not 80% to be destroyed and 20% protected as we asserted. One would expect industry to play fast and loose with figures, not Greenpeace. The differences in figures are largely a result of Greenpeace including already protected areas (9%) and areas to have lesser protection (~3%) which along with 20% more in protected areas comes to around 33%. The scientific recommendations to the process were that 70% needed to be protected to reliably maintain biodiversity in the long-term, with little emphasis given to what was needed to sustain ecosystems. Greenpeace's statement that 70% of old-growth would be maintained under the plan is completely unjustified, strongly contradicting other estimates widely reported by more independent local organizations. For example, the David Suzuki Foundation found that 65% of the most-intact and highest conservation value ecosystems remain unprotected.
* Campaign Results – Greenpeace states their campaign has stopped logging in 5 million acres of rainforest and saved 89 pristine valleys. Despite these protections having been announced four years ago, they remain unfulfilled promises whose future is in doubt. None of the protected areas or ending of logging has been finalized or actually established. Nor are they likely to be as the B.C. government has recently walked away from the agreement. This is one reason we are so critical. It is entirely possible that these groups stopped their market campaigns, allowed logging as usual for four years, and have gotten nothing in return.
* Embrace of “Ecosystem Based Management” – It can be difficult to keep up with the most recent doublespeak regarding how first time logging of ancient forests will be done in a “sustainable” manner. We expect such babble from industry, but from Greenpeace? Let us be clear – first time logging of ancient forests is not sustainable in any meaningful ecological fashion. Ancient forests that are logged for the first time are diminished forever. They have different species in different abundances, changed size classes and differing forest structure. There is frequently a severe loss of genetic diversity within species, particularly trees. This limits the forest's future ability to adapt and evolve, for example in the face of climate change. And frequently the smaller though no less important species of soil microbes are severely diminished with long-term implications for species and ecosystems. These all lead to changes in ecosystem function and spiraling ecological diminishment. The trees that remain after first time industrial scaled logging of any type are not an ancient forest, and follow-on management will complete their transition to a tree farm.
Acknowledging that unlogged ancient primary forests are diminishing rapidly worldwide, at what time will we have reached the point where the forest conservation movement should work for no more industrial forestry there within and protection for all remaining ancient forests? Is your strategy of negotiating huge harvests of Canada's temperate rainforests also applicable to Canada's Boreal forests? The Amazon? When should the ancient forest logging end?
In your campaign work, how do you decide when to work for protection, and when to work for certified forestry? What is the criterion for deciding the best that can be done is promote industrial logging with a bit of protected areas? How confident are you that protected areas will in fact remain so when the areas you have relegated to industrial logging are harvested? What evidence do you have that the Earth's ecosystems can continue to operate reliably without large expanses of natural, unfragmented and unlogged ancient forests?
On what basis do you state that proposed “ecosystem management” will be sustainable? Are you confusing sustained timber yields with ecological sustainability? Could you direct me to the scientific literature demonstrating ancient forests can be logged in an environmentally sustainable manner? How does this differ from previously promised “variable retention” logging which was the latest failed buzzword for business as usual logging in Canada's temperate rainforests?

You may also like...

5 Responses

  1. Peter says:

    Yes, the crux of the matter is summed up in our slogan “End Ancient Forest Logging”.
    This is the slogan for our time.
    Those who have the slogan “End Some of the Logging” are part of the problem.

  2. Michael Major says:

    I don't think Ingmar is just taking pot shots at the RSP. I agree with him, as do many others, that all of the remaining original coastal forests should be simply and quickly excluded from any further agro-forestry conversion.
    We need to shift our entire industrial forestry focus from the remaining old growth to the second growth. The EBM and FSC frameworks could be useful for managing and restoring complexity, biodiversity and resilience in the vast plantations of second growth that now occupy more than 75% of the most productive growing sites in the GBR. However, the loss of these most productive sites to plantations means that we have already lost the most productive forest habitat and refugia for biodiversity, resilience and recovery.
    The RSP plan accepts, with some monumental exceptions, that the entire catalogue of remaining uncut highly productive GBR forest sites will be converted to plantations where their biological productivity will managed and enhanced exclusively for industrial timber production. It is to this blithe acceptance of irreversible exploitation that so many of us are opposed. What is the difference between the RSP plan and the forest industry business as usual plan? After excluding the protected areas identified by the RSP, it is really difficult to see a difference between the usual industrial forestry approach and the kind of industrial forest liquidation and conversion that will be tolerated by the RSP initiative.
    The most significant apparent difference is that the RSP initiative sets out to create a divided cohort of interests and jurisdictions for the industry to play off and divide one against the other in yet another tragedy of the forested commons. You say there is no alternative strategy. There is an alternative strategy that starts when we terminate the industrial liquidation and conversion of the remaining original coastal forests.
    There is an alternative economic and ecological path and it involves husbanding the second growth forests which now dominate the best low elevation sites throughout the GBR. Old growth timber will soon be one of the rarest and most valuable things in the world and it will be even more valuable if it comes to the market without the ancient forest exploitation label. In coastal BC we have a unique opportunity to husband our second growth through long slow rotations to develop the mature timber and complex of forest characteristics and ecological associations that will allow us to ethically, environmentally and most important, sustainably command that market. All of the remaining original forests in the GBR are maps of how we get there from here. To open that path, all you have to do is reject the industrial liquidation and conversion paradigm. If that is all you can do, then you are half way to making a real difference. But if the conversion of our remaining ancient coastal forests to plantations continues you will never forget that perhaps once there was an alternative.
    Michael Major

  3. Sierra says:

    Thank you for your concern regarding the future of the Great Bear Rainforest. We are working hard to create meaningful and enduring solutions in this globally significant region of temperate old growth forest.
    We encourage you to check out for more information on our approach to conservation and land use planning in the Great Bear Rainforest. It is our strong belief that the proposed agreements can create enduring conservation solutions.
    Sierra Club of Canada, BC Chapter

  4. Green Peace says:

    Green Peace

    The organization currently addresses many environmental issues w

  5. Green Peace says:

    Green Peace

    This is the social network for Greenpeace. Along with the R

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.