Throughout 2019, our abiding and persistent theme has been the urgent need to protect the forest, which regulates and protects nature, wildlife, watersheds, and beauty, and which also stores carbon and regulates the climate, whereas clearcutting the forest releases it and adds fuel to the climate emergency.
Most of the political heat gets directed at the need to protect BC’s old growth forests, most of which grows on Crown land. Very little is directed at ways to protect the private forest, amid which we live, and very little is understood about the ways that such forest can be protected.
One consequence of our failure to protect the 60 acres of forest at the end of Long Lake Road has been that we really dug into the legislation, learning that private forested land that is not within a small riparian zone has no protection at all – it has been ecologically abandoned in favour of the legal right of landowners to do what they want with their land, regardless of Nature’s or the climate’s needs.
One way or another, all of our activities in YES circle back to this critical central fact: that we need to develop not just a culture of respect for the forest in all its many dimensions, but a culture of respect for the forest that is expressed in law, providing lasting protection, just as human life is protected.
During 2019, with help from Arrowsmith Media, we created and produced a short video focused on the private forest titled For Love of the Forest, which is available on YouTube for all to see, which has received very positive feedback.
With a view to understanding and protecting the old growth forest, we and a group of other people met several times with our MLA Doug Routley, and together we developed a list of requests for change, which were passed onto the Minister of Forests.
With a view to protecting the Private Managed Forest Lands, which cover most of the old E&N rail grant lands from Victoria to Campbell River and across to Port Alberni, and where clearcutting has been constant and ongoing, when the government of BC invited public input into possible changes to the governing legislation we presented a detailed submission. We are awaiting news of any changes to the Private Managed Forest Lands Act.
In March, we joined with others in a Save the Forests Rally and March in downtown Nanaimo, and in June one of our members organized a local Climate Strike which was well-attended by residents and parents and kids from Cedar Elementary and Cedar Secondary Schools.
Throughout the year, we have been developing and writing our Forest Landowners’ Handbook, which we hope to see published in April 2020, and we have been developing relationships and thoughts for the drafting of Development Permit Area legislation that would provide greater forest protection in a DPA.
We have held well-attended evenings with these speakers:
- Richard Hill, on the history of Yellow Point Lodge
- Nancy Turner, on First Nations ethnobotany
- Priscilla Brewer, on Permaculture Inspiration
- Galen Armstrong, on Forests Forever
- Guy Dauncey, on solutions to the Climate Emergency, and
- Colin Haime, the interim Area H Regional Director.
In June we held an impromptu dinner-party for YES members at the new Plantitude restaurant in Ladysmith, and in August we organized a much enjoyed Summer Party and Fundraising Auction at Ross and Pam’s waterfront home on Brenton-Page Road.
And in November, we organized an EcoFilm Festival at Cedar Community Hall, where 50 people enjoyed an afternoon of inspiring environmental movies, with added popcorn.
Research Field Trips
During the summer we conducted two field trips:
- To the Galiano Conservancy Association, to learn about their extensive forest conservation efforts.
- To the Woodley Range Ecological Reserve, to better understand this part of our local ecosystem.
For the Love of Nature
On several occasions throughout the year our members participated in a broom pull at the entrance to Yellow Point Park, helping to nourish and protect the Garry oak meadow with its amazing display of camas and other wildflowers, and in May we organized a commercial broom-pull on the cleared lands next to Yellow Point Lodge, financed by one of the land-owners and a local realtor. The broom is still there in full-force, however.
In the spring, our member Ian Reilly offered to create a page on our website on the Common Yard Birds of Yellow Pointidentified by their calls, which has proved to be very popular.
We sold several hundred cedar and fir seedlings, which are now experiencing their first winter in their home and native land.
And throughout the year, twenty members participated in our Yellow Point Roadside Trash Challenge, quietly keeping the roads clear of garbage.
During 2019 our YES website had 5,127 visitors and 8,424 views. These were the most popular pages:
- Common Yard Birds of Yellow Point: 2,834 views
- Lubeck: Another Way of Logging: 1,432 views
- Poetry in the Forest: 467 views
- The Private Managed Forests Lands submission: 466 views
Our YES Facebook page has 204 members, and our YES Newsletter goes out to 245 members and supporters. We have yet to open a channel to the younger generation by creating a YES Instagram page.
In closing, we go to the other side of the world and some words from the contemporary Turkish playwright, novelist and thinker Mehmet Murat Ildan:
“If you go to a desert, you will hear this mysterious voice: Be wise, protect your forests!”
“Talk to the forest, because the forest always talks to you.”