VICTORIA – If you think the NDP government told some whoppers about the budget before the last election, you ought to hear what Greenpeace says about our forest practices.
"Broken Promises" is the title of a rather unsavory booklet released last week by Greenpeace at simultaneous press conferences in Victoria, Toronto, New York and five European cities. The slick professionalism with which the hyped-up event was staged would make a Madison Avenue advertising guru green with envy.
The booklet’s cover says: "The truth about what’s happening in British Columbia’s forests." It features a photo of a huge clearcut with the caption: "What the international visitors aren’t being shown."
The booklet alleges that huge clearcuts, such as the one shown in the photo, are still commonplace in British Columbia.
Premier Glen Clark didn’t mince words when asked what he thought of Greenpeace’s allegations, calling them "enemies of British Columbia." I thought he was pretty restrained.
To start with, the photo of the clearcut was taken in 1995. Since then, British Columbia has introduced the Forest Practices Code, containing some of the toughest logging practices in North America.
Greenpeace claims there has been little change in protecting British Columbia’s temperate rainforests. There’s no mention of the 800,000 hectares of parkland created in the past few years, including the 317,000-hectare Kitlope Valley, the largest intact coastal rainforest in the world.
Greenpeace claims that international visitors aren’t being shown any clearcuts. In fact, they are shown the whole gamut of logging practices, past and present, including some awful mistakes of the past, to show international experts the changes in the province’s forest practices.
Greenpeace says cutblocks in excess of 100 hectares are still commonplace. In fact, the average cutblock in British Columbia is now 25 hectares.
Greenpeace claims that our forest practices encourage soil and stream erosion. A recent independent survey showed that B.C. is a leader in soil conservation, soil erosion control and establishing no-harvest zones along stream beds.
The truth is that the booklet touted to the world as factual is one of the most misleading documents I have ever seen. It makes Andrew Petter’s fictional budget look like a piker.
Something happened to Greenpeace since the organization was formed by a ragtag bunch of idealists in Vancouver so many years ago.
I had a chance to be aboard the ship that protested Soviet nuclear testing in the Aleutians in the early 70s. Unfortunately, my paper wasn’t willing to do without me in Victoria for what might be five or six weeks.
Today’s Greenpeace bears no resemblance to that early idealistic defender of things ecological. A multi-national outfit, almost para-military in its operations, today’s Greenpeace spreads fear and loathing along the fund-raising trail , and doesn’t give a damn if the facts get in the way of a good media event.
The history books will show that Mike Harcourt’s greatest legacy was to set British Columbia on the path of sustainable forestry. The process has been and still is painful. A lot of people have lost their jobs in the transition.
Still, about 300,000 people in British Columbia depend directly or indirectly on the forest industry for their livelihood. And the rest of us would also find out what economic distress is if the industry were ever to collapse. And that’s what Greenpeace’s international campaign of misinformation is designed to accomplish.