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Conservation North claims old growth being logged for pellets

Sean O’Rourke in front of old growth cedar in planned pellet cutblock. Conservation North photo

Conservation North claims a section of inland rainforest, located 45 minutes east of Prince George, is slated for harvest.

Members found flagging in the area which, they say, indicates a cutblock is planned.

“Finding flagging isn’t new, what was different here is that it had the name of a local pellet company on it,” said Sean O’Rourke, a field scout with Conservation North.

O’Rourke combed through the publicly-available harvest data and was shocked to discover that the province has issued cutting permits to a pellet company for logging old growth forest.

“Logging rainforest for lumber is bad enough, so we’re flabbergasted about the choice to issue permits to grind rainforest into stuff that will be squished into pellets, shipped overseas and burned for electricity.”

The planned cutblock will be logged this winter, he said.

Conservation North’s director Michelle Connolly is a plaintiff in a lawsuit against the South Korean government. The case represents the first national-level lawsuit challenging the status of wood-burning as renewable energy; South Korea is currently the world’s third largest importer of biomass, which it burns for electricity. Connolly joins residents of Korea who live near plants burning biomass and who are affected by the resulting air pollution.

Two pellet companies are logging primary forests in BC.  Pinnacle has a long-term contract with GS Global Corporation, a Korean conglomerate, while Pacific Bioenergy has a long-term agreement with Japanese power producers.

“Logging rainforest for pellets is not ‘clean’, or ‘renewable’ in any way, shape or form,” said Connolly, referring to recent claims by Premier John Horgan that only ‘waste’ is going into pellet plants and providing Japan with sustainable energy.

A scientific report published in June identified northern old growth forest ecosystems as being at high risk of biodiversity loss because of logging.

“Pellet plants will vacuum up our remaining old growth forest just as surely as the pulp mills have here,” said Jenn Matthews, outreach coordinator for group. “We are not going to let this happen.”

Pellets made of whole trees from primary forests in BC are being sent to the UK, Europe, Japan and Korea according to recent research. The harms to the climate and interior old growth forests were described in a recent panel presentation by expert Dr. Mary Booth of the US-based Partnership for Policy Integrity.

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