Safeguarding coastal old-growth forests through groundtruthing and visual storytelling.
The importance of getting out to the frontlines of resource extraction activity on our coast is the only way to know the truth of how those practices are being conducted. With gumboots to the ground, we have spent an enormous amount of time walking through, monitoring and documenting expansive clearcuts and groves of old-growth flagged to be cut. We have poured over reports, legal documents, and learned the language of the foresters who are in charge of managing how the forests are used in our current system of Professional Reliance. We have spent countless hours in meetings with forestry companies in negotiations to keep the remaining old-growth of Sonora Island standing. The things we have found on the ground do not line up with what is on paper. One thing we learn time and time again is that groundtruthing is an incredibly important step in the process of enacting environmental justice.
The power of storytelling is undeniable. It has the ability to change how we perceive the world, and thereby act. The stories we tell ourselves and one another shape the world we live in. While there are a number of impactful ways to communicate story, our mediums to communicate what we find in our groundtruthing work are photography, filmmaking/videography, writing, and presenting. In our work to protect old-growth ecosystems, storytelling through these mediums has made an impact. Photographs of stumps, videos explaining shady forestry practises, posters of logging in the Great Bear Rainforest - these have all held what usually remains hidden to the light of day. Our grassroots work fuelled by our care for the coast has held giant forestry companies accountable for their practices. We believe that when people are shown injustices, they will stand up and act to protect what they love.
This year we will be continuing our work to protect the dwindling, critically important original forest ecosystems on the BC coast. The more we are supported by fundraisers like our Coast Calendars, the more time, focus, and energy we are able to put towards this critical work. With each calendar purchased, we are able to spend more time out on the ground to uncover the injustices going on right now in the vanishing old-growth forests in the Great Bear Rainforest. We advocate for the health of ecosystems and wildlife, and at the same time celebrate the beauty of the coast with our growing community along the way. We communicate these on-the-ground discoveries of unethical, sometimes illegal, oftentimes shady practises through photography, writing, films, presentations, and submissions to a variety of audiences from the Forest Practices Board, to local communities, to local and national media.
The Professional Reliance system is like trusting foxes to guard the henhouse, but it’s the current regulatory model our forest industry uses. It is terrifying to us that the fate of our forests is decided by those who profit from it’s destruction.
Your support helps us bring the truth to the public, so that we can make decisions as communities on the health of our forests.
You can learn more about our work to protect the last remaining old-growth on Sonora Island here.
How groundtruthing reveals why EBM and Professional Reliance isn’t working.
This film directed, filmed, and edited by Tavish Campbell breaks down why Ecosystem Based Management (EBM) and Professional Reliance isn’t working. This 16-minute video acts as the Sonora Island Community's submission to the Provincial review of the Professional Reliance model in British Columbia, Canada. January 2018.
WHAT WE STAND TO LOSE
Tavish photographed this old-growth cedar tree on East Thurlow Island. By documenting old-growth still standing, we have a record of what specific trees and healthy ecosystems look like. The importance of intact forests cannot be overstated.
Old-growth forests are irreplaceable in sustaining biodiversity. Original rainforests should be a top conservation priority when it comes to protecting wildlife, and with species extinction rates occurring more rapidly than they ever have before due to the human activity, these original forest habitats are more critical than ever. Old-growth is not a renewable resource. These ecosystems have been growing, layering, and building biodiversity since the last ice-age. To call forestry practices that cut down old-growth ‘sustainable’ is one of the biggest environmental lies of our time.
Returning to East Thurlow Island to check in on these trees, Tavish found that the original forest that stood here had been reduced to a graveyard. This once-productive old-growth ecosystem is now an irreparable scar in the landscape.
“Old-growth rainforest is being logged on the Island at a rate of about 10,000 hectares a year — or two soccer fields per hour. Along B.C.’s south coast and in the inland rainforest, scarce remaining intact rainforests are also being logged at a rate faster than most places on the planet, driving caribou and salmon to the brink of extinction.” - The Province (source)
“less than 1 % of coastal douglas fir remain on the east side of Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. we, along with the sonora island community, brought these rare remaining trees to the attention of TIMBERWEST, with dozens of photos, and were told there are not enough of them to count as an old growth forest. Our forests have been so fragmented with logging, of course there are no huge stands anymore. What smaller areas we have now are precious and must be protected.” - Tavish Campbell
You can support our work to protect old-growth forests against environmental injustice by ordering a Coast Calendar.