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Old Growth Clearcuts on BC's Coast

BWM contributor Mya discusses the beautiful forests in her area and the horrible plan to destroy it all. "There is a very destructive and sinister plan aimed at Cortes Island, which is of the archipelago known as the Discovery Islands located in BC's Gulf of Georgia. The entire Island is part of the traditional territories of the Wei We Kai, Kwiakah, Homalco and Klahoose First Nations, with the southern tip a part of the traditional territory of the Sliammon People. As I write this, the pristine Old Growth forests of Cortes Island are under attack, and this time it's Brookfield Asset Management at the helm."
I live on the west coast of British Columbia, in one of the most beautiful places in the world. I've spent mot of my life here, residing everywhere from the Island of Haida Gwaii to Gabriola, growing up in the port town of Nanaimo and now inhabiting East Van. I was raised surrounded by beauty, from the vast and

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omnipotent power of the Pacific Ocean to the epic strength of the old growth forest's Redwood trees spanning as wide as the roads we travel and reaching to infinity. I've marveled at the awesomeness of the milky way while listening to the peaceful roar of the waves and stretching out on a piece of driftwood, slept on bed of soft green moss while watching the trees talk to each other, climbed the peaks of the mountains, our protectors, and swam free in the pristine waters of the Georgia Straight alongside my brothers and sisters of the ocean, dazzled by the glow of the phosphorescence under the starry night sky. Despite all the hardship, abuse and struggle I've encountered in my life, the one constant, the one thing I've always been able to come back to is the healing power of nature. I can always count on her to rejuvenate my spirit, on the Animal Nations to provide me with inspiration, and on the sheer wonder of it all to help me to never forget what it is I'm fighting for and why I will NEVER GIVE UP. Preserving the land that nourishes me, standing up for the animals I love...these are the most important things in my life and that is something that will never change. It is for these reasons why I cannot, will not and downright refuse to understand why there are those who set out to destroy it all for greed and monetary gain. These people, politicians and members of corporations, care nothing for the future or the people, and it breaks my heart to learn that yet again they are attempting to ruin everything we are fighting to protect. There is a very destructive and sinister plan aimed at Cortes Island, which is of the archipelago known as the Discovery Islands located in BC's Gulf of Georgia.

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The entire Island is part of the traditional territories of the Wei We Kai, Kwiakah, Homalco and Klahoose First Nations, with the southern tip a part of the traditional territory of the Sliammon People. As I write this, the pristine Old Growth forests of Cortes Island are under attack, and this time it's Brookfield Asset Management at the helm. Many may recognize Brookfield as the US$40 billion conglomerate that owns Zucotti Park, a park where Occupy Wall Street protesters were evicted from and violently removed by police, and their recent plan to proceed with the logging of Cortes Island's old growth forests, an area comprising much of the last remaining 1% of the original ancient Douglas Fir forest that once blanketed the coastal region, is yet another piece of evidence that Brookfield has no interest in adhering to the concerns of the people or protecting nature's resources. They are simply out to make as much of a profit as they can, regardless of the irreparable damage caused.? For anyone who's not clear on the horrors of clearcutting, here's the scoop. Clearcutting is a logging practice which involves completely clearing an area of trees, regardless of their size and usability. Remaining scrub and brush are usually burnt in large burn piles that can cast a smoky haze over the area for several days. Though clear-cut areas may vary from relatively small to spanning for miles, the environmental impact will have a serious impact on the area no matter what. Clearcutting can affect the area's rivers, as removing the surrounding trees can elevate the water temperature, causing population decrease, and in some cases extinction, in plants, fish and amphibians. It can also harm the water cycle, as surrounding trees help to retain water that would otherwise flood the

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riverbanks. Without the trees to protect the precious topsoil, it is pulled into the river and carried out to sea, with the excess in nutrients introduced into the water causing harm to marine organisms. In addition to the harm clearcutting brings to marine life, birds, reptiles and mammals are also greatly impacted as destruction of the forest means a loss of habitat. These animals often have nowhere else to go as either surrounding areas have also been deforested or have become filled with human inhabitants. Many animals have adverse interactions with the humans who are encroaching on their habitat, while others incapable of adapting end up quietly dying off. Finally, clearcutting also causes irreparable damage to the atmosphere as trees, an incredible source of life for the planet, help to filter pollutants in the air and are a crucial part of the carbon cycle, allowing us to breathe. If the logging companies engage in replanting trees, they are more often than not planting mono-cultured young trees which rarely replicate the biodiversity and complexity of a natural forest. They provide limited resources for wildlife that depend on dead trees and openings, as all the trees are the same size, and are also have greater susceptibility to being infected with a pathogen or attacked by insects. In my opinion, humans have already caused enough damage and destruction through clearing and scorching the earth's forest that we owe it to ourselves, the animals and the plant life to leave mother earth alone. Brookfield is no stranger to selling off BC's precious commodities for profit. In the early 2000's Weyco (Weyerhaeuser), the world's largest producer of softwood lumber, purchased all the lands managed by BC's $4 billion timber company MacMillan Bloedel, a company which the people of Cortes had successfully fended off their land in the 90's through blockade and protest. After a few years of aggressive timber liquidation and land sales, Weyerhaeuser sold their entire BC Coastal Division to Brookfield Asset Management. By this time, the BC Liberal Government had canceled the public review process and and failed to consult and accommodate First nations about massive public land transfers. Brookfield then divided the assets into two companies, Island Timberlands and Cascadia Forest Products. Island Timberlands?was created to manage privately-managed forest land, and the trees that come from IT managed land are then exported directly to Asia. Cascadia Forest Products was purchased by US Western Forest Products, of which Brookfield Asset Management is considered a major player, and has gone on to close down Vancouver Island mills, forcing thousands of people out of work, as without the wood from the privately-managed forest lands, there are not enough logs to sustain the mills. So not only is Brookfield complicit in the destruction of one of

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BC's most precious resources, but they're also responsible for the rising unemployment rate on Vancouver Island. Sounds a lot like corporate takeover, doesn't it? The people of Cortes are fighting back, first through discussions and mediation with Island Timberlands but preparing for blockades when the time comes and ensuring that everyone is well aware that the 1,000+ permanent residents do not intend to let their land go down without a fight. Many environmental groups such as Wildsands, as well as members of Occupy Vancouver and over 6,000 petition signers, have pledged to stand in solidarity against this brutality, and with any luck this mass mobilization of dedicated activists and community members will be just what the people of Cortes need to once again fend off the forces of collusion,corruption and destruction. The sad reality that comes out of this uprising is the realization that this is just one incident of thousands around the world, and it begs the question of when will this total disregard for mother nature end? So as long as there is serious money to be made off precious natural resources, there will always be those greedy enough to sacrifice every part of nature, all things beautiful, essential and sacred, for financial gain. We the people must stand up against these atrocities and fight their greed with everything we've got if we wish to have a world to live in tomorrow. The future of our planet depends on our efforts to save her, and those of us who can take a stand must do so for our brothers and sisters of all races and species. To coin one of my favorite phrases used by so many of our comrades in liberation, "Respect Existence, or Expect Resistance".

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