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Renowned Scientists Call for Moratorium on Logging

>UK, 2 April 1998 - While the UK continues to import timber and
>pulp from British  Columbia's ancient temperate rainforests to
>make products like DIY  furniture and magazines,  5 Europeans
>are amongst the 18  environmentalists on trial this week in
>Vancouver for opposing the  clearcut logging of the some of the
>last remaining pristine rainforest  valleys in the Great bear
> Greenpeace campaigner, John Sauven said: "As Europe's largest
>importer  of timber from this region, the UK cannot ignore the
>role it is  playing in this rainforest destruction. Many
>companies have already  stepped back and pulled out of their
>contracts but others are still  buying this rainforest timber.
>Meanwhile, people are facing possible  prison sentences for
>trying to protect these vulnerable ancient  forests."
> Yesterday (1 April 1998), the trial took a new direction as one
>of the  world's foremost experts in conservation biology told
>the Vancouver  court that the current rate of clearcutting in
>Canada's temperate  rainforest is irreparably damaging the
>diversity of the ecosystem.   
> The scientist, Dr. Michael Soulé testified at the Vancouver
>trial of  the 18 environmentalists, including 12 Greenpeace
>defendants, who were  arrested last year for protesting against
>clearcut logging in the  Great Bear Rainforest, British
>Columbia, by International Forest  Products (Interfor). In his
>testimony, Dr. Soule called for a  moratorium of logging in
>remaining pristine valleys of ancient  temperate rainforest.  
> A report released last year by the Washington-based World
>Resources  Institute documented the extent of industrial
>activity in ancient  forests and found that, globally, the
>temperate rainforest is the most  threatened forest type on
> Dr. Soulé, whose body of work includes having co-written the
>first  draft of the 1992 Biodiversity Convention, said that the
>fragmentation  of the rainforest caused by road building and
>clearcut logging is  damaging soil systems, destroying fish
>habitat and is likely to cause  the regional
> extirpation of many species. The British Columbian (BC)
>government  lists 743 plant and animal species as being 
>endangered, threatened or  vulnerable to extinction.
> "The loss of ancient forests globally means that we are
>potentially  facing the single greatest ecological catastrophe
>the planet has ever  experienced," said Dr. Soulé. "There has
>been mass extinction dating  back hundreds of millions of years,
>but this is the first time a mass  extinction has been caused by
>one species' impacts." 
> Dr. Soulé said that scientists specialising in the field of 
>conservation biology estimate that a 90 per cent loss of habitat
>will  precipitate a 50 per
> cent loss of species dependent on that habitat, and noted that
>the  government of British Columbia's intention to only protect
>12 per cent  of the landbase will fail to protect the integrity
>of the rainforest  ecosystem. Approximately half of BC's coastal
>rainforest has already  been cleared.
> The need to adopt a precautionary approach in conserving the
>pristine  valleys in Canada's ancient rainforest was supported
>by BC scientist  Dr. Nancy Turner, a respected member of the
>Scientific Panel for  Sustainable Forest Practices in Clayoquot
>Sound. The Scientific Panel  was a government-appointed panel of
>scientists and First Nations  people who jointly formulated
>recommendations for logging in Clayoquot  Sound.
> "Increasingly we are seeing a need to adopt a far more cautious 
>approach to logging than we have seen in the past," Dr. Turner
>said.  "With so much of the temperate rainforest already logged
>and changed  significantly from its original structure and
>composition, it's clear  that the scientifically responsible
>response is to adopt a moratorium  on logging of the intact
>valleys that remain." 
> Dr. Turner said that a moratorium would also afford First
>Nations'  people a greater opportunity for input and decision-
>making over what  activity occurs in their territories.
> While members of the scientific community are calling for
>higher  levels of protection for ancient rainforests, the
>international  marketplace is beginning to move away from
>products derived by the  clearcutting of these majestic BC
>rainforests. In the UK, these  companies include: B&Q, BBC
>Worldwide Publishing, Do-It-All,  Sainsbury's HomeBase and
> Note to Editors:  
> Available on request are:
> Copies of correspondence from companies 
> Photographs of the 18 defendants 
> Photographs and footage of the Great Bear Rainforest. 
> The trial is expected to continue throughout the week.
>Defendants  could face a sentence of up to 2 month's in prison.
> The Greenpeace defendants are from Canada, Belgium, Ireland,
>Denmark  and the USA.
>Greenpeace on the Internet at http://www.greenpeace.org
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