Posted By PWR Initiative

“The precautionary principle denotes a duty to prevent harm, when it is within our power to do so, even when all the evidence is not in. This principle has been codified in several international treaties to which Canada is a signatory. Domestic law makes reference to this principle but implementation remains limited.”

Kwiakah First Nation has provided the BC Liberal Government with ample evidence that the ecosystem of the Phillips Watershed is under enormous environmental pressure – and all the evidence is pointing at forestry as the main local culprit. The small First Nation has commissioned research for Phillips Arm starting in the year 2006. Of course, in scientific terms one decade of research cannot provide all the answers and one has to stay committed to continue research work for years to come to close knowledge gaps or prove a clear correlation between cause and effect. Many times it is not one specific cause but a conglomerate of a number of factors that have a negative impact on a ecosystem.

Kwiakah’s research results and all the professional reports clearly show a very negative trend and point at forest activities as the main cause for the negative impacts on key indicator species in Phillips Arm like grizzly bears, Roosevelt Elk or salmon (the Phillips River is one of the few remaining watersheds that is still home to all five Pacific salmon runs on the South Central Coast; however, the individual salmon populations of the watershed show very low numbers for returning fish – a run could go extinct at any given time because the low numbers of returning fish can hardly sustain a population).

The BC Liberal Government has signalled that they are interested in joint research projects with Kwiakah First Nation. They are hoping that “duelling science” (this is their newest term – they switched from competing to duelling) can be prevented by working jointly on research. The BC Liberal Government is still adamant in their position not to trust any research or scientific results that have not been produced by government scientists.

Kwiakah First Nation is very open to working together with government scientists - we are convinced our research can withstand scientific scrutiny. However, we are demanding that the BC Liberal Government follow the “Precautionary Principle” and not allow timber harvest activities until they prove to Kwiakah without a doubt that a decade of research conducted by professionals on behalf of Kwiakah is wrong and the ecosystem of the Phillips watershed is not in danger of collapse.

At the time of writing of this blog entry government officials have informed us that compliance with the precautionary principle is not their top priority and that they would prefer to fulfill their contractual obligations with licensees instead.

Of course, Kwiakah First Nation won’t stand for this and will use any means necessary to convince the BC Liberal government to respect the precautionary principle.

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