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AG00119_.gif (2913 bytes)EcoNews reaches thousands of people each month, including every MLA in BC and every CRD municipal politician. It’s 95% funded by donations from readers like you. If you value the information it provides, will you support it with a donation?

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Guy Dauncey, Editor
395 Conway Road, Victoria, BC
Tel (250) 881-1304

Executive director of The Solutions Project


Newsletter No. 96 - Serving the Vision of a Sustainable Vancouver Island - July / August 2000


Ah, those fresh, home-grown organic tomatoes, those juicy, luscious strawberries! Surely, they too are singing of summer, when the woods are full of birdsong and the swallows are feeding their young.

Isn’t it good to know that the land they grew on has not been poisoned by chemicals? A series of nine major biodiversity studies carried out over the last 13 years in the UK and Denmark has found that chemically-free farming systems support substantially greater number of birds, plants, butterflies and other species, compared to the equivalent conventionally managed farms.

I have friends in Somerset, southern England, who run a 22 acre organic riding school. They have found that their pasture contains up to 70 different species of natural grass and herb, compared to just 20 – 25 that grow on scientifically stripped and reseeded pastures. When their horses get sick, they choose their own herbs, drawing on their evolutionary horse-wisdom. They need no antibiotics, and my friends’ vet’s bill is very low.

Isn’t it good to know that the organic food you so carefully grow in your garden, or which you buy at Thrifty Foods, Capers or Lifestyles or receive through your weekly brown box program has not contributed to the loss of the skylarks, or the disappearance of the butterflies ?

Even the climate benefits. Healthy organic soil is full of carboniferous microorganisms – that’s what makes it soil, as opposed to sand, clay or grit. A single gram of healthy soil can contain as many as 4,000 distinct RNA genomes – 90% of them un-named. An acre of soil may contain as much as 44 tons of carbon. The living organisms in the soil absorb carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere in massive quantities, just like the forest and the phytoplankton in the ocean. It is part of the natural carbon cycle, and we need it, badly.

In 1998, the Rodale Institute reported on an intensive 15-year research project in which they alternated corn with soy beans and other legumes on an 8-acre plot, and enriched the soil on some fields while plowing under immature plants on others. The carbon level in the soil in the experimental plots soared nitrogen losses were cut by half and yields were just as good, compared with crops that used commercial fertilizer on adjacent conventionally grown fields. It’s all that healthy soil-building compost what does it!

Isn’t it wonderful that the farms of Vancouver Island, like most of Europe, have finally gone completely organic ? From Cape Scott to Victoria, there’s not a chemically grown bean, cow or sunflower.

Sorry – time to stop daydreaming.

But what would it take? The new Welsh Assembly has set a goal that 100% of farms in Wales should become organic and GM-free. In Austria, 30% of the farmland is being managed organically.

In Vermont, nearly a quarter of the state’s farmland is managed organically, thanks to a longstanding commitment by the state government. In Minnesota, the state holds an annual ‘Organic Harvest Week’ every September. We could do that.

In Denmark, the government uses tax-shifting to help its farmers convert to organic practices. A tax is administered on chemical pesticides, herbicides and fungicides, and conversion grants are administered by a Council for Organic Agriculture. A farmer can receive $180 per hectare in the first year, $96 in the second and $36 in the third. The conversion must cover the entire farm, and the farm must continue as organic for at least two years. Vermont’s legislators looked at a similar system as part of an overall tax-shift package, but it got shot down when it came to the vote. We could do that. (I mean pass it, not shoot it down.)

Local organic growers, and groups such as the South Island Organic Producers Association, LifeCycles and LLAFF (Linking Land and Future Farmers) are doing a great job to bring us fresh organic food, and expand awareness. Local stores are distributing whatever they can get hold of. In Britain, Iceland Foods (the equivalent of Safeway) has just made the commitment that ALL of its own-label frozen foods will become organic. To do so, they have secured nearly 40% of the world’s organic produce, with long-term contracts.

There is so much that we can do. We can buy more organic food. We can support local farmers. We can put down that box of chemical fertilizer, and vow never to use it again. In New York State, they now require homeowners to post warning flags to alert their neighbours when they use herbicides or pesticides on their lawns.

We need to get that junk out of the soil, out of our bodies, and out of the bodies of swallows and butterflies. Let’s have summer the way it should be. No more chemicals !

Guy Dauncey

Please note:  the Green Diary has moved, click here to view.


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A very big thankyou to Kathleen Gibson, Audrey Woodward, Pat Johnston, Jayne Gerlach, Betty McInnes, Judith Walker, Ralf Schultze, Rich Atwood, Brad Jarvis, Vince Cummings, New Society Publishers, Patrick Fawkes, Roa Bos, Anke van Leeuwen, Margaret Schubart, Miriam Thorn, Sheila Irving, Walter Riegel, Alandra McLaren, Katey Bloomfield, Fred Knelman, Joan Hurwood, Peter Schofield, Susan Coward, Elizabeth White, Yvonne Bondarchuk, Eizabeth Nuse, Sylvan Foreman, Naomi Petersen, Louise Irwin, Constance Mungall, Paul Gareau, Art & Marg Simons, Philippa White, LL Mitchell, Robert Milligan, Alan & Joan Greatbatch, Joesphine Doman, Andrew Pringle, Bobbie Seeds, Ken Wardroper, Stephanie Slater, Virginia Clark, Elizabeth Bosher, Andree Scott, Kate Stevens, Pru Moore, Colin Graham, Jo Phillips, Murray Sutherland, Susan Day, Moireen Phillips, Al Craighead, Jan Zwicky, David van Stolk, Daphne & Hugh Taylor, Joan Waddell, Darlene Monkman, Hannah & Robert Main, Patricia Kahr, Janet Hawkesley, Andrea Gleichauf, Karyn Woodland, Joanne Manley, Sheila Hunka, Hannelore Ioannides, Monica Oldham, David Rothkop, Marya Nyland, Freda Knott, Compost Education Centre, Marianne Samaan, Vic Lindal, Gil Parker, Freda Ramsay, Roger Colwill, Dawne Burron, Martha Barchyn, M.Edwards, Betty Kleiman.

Donations can be made to EcoNews, 395 Conway Rd, Victoria V9E 2B9. For receipt, include a stamped addressed envelope.

To receive EcoNews by email fill in the form at top.


EcoPersonals $5 line (free to non-profits, low-income). 1" box $30. $2" $55.

* Wanted. Clean envelopes for EcoNews. Do you know of a business or government department that has moved, and has unwanted envelopes ? Call Guy, 881-1304

* Volunteer needed to prep EcoNews envelopes & put on labels. Guy, 881-1304

* For Sale: 4 acres secluded river front, Comox Valley. Partly treed, part open pasture. Includes well, power, renovated mobile home, water filtering system. Our community is very active in environmental and social issues. $150,000 - firm. Susan 250-337-5375 or Marlene 337-8220

* The Habitat Acquisition Trust has a new home at #517-620 View Street, and welcomes Bruce Whittington as its new Executive Director. Many thanks to Bruce for running the Field Naturalist for so long – & good luck in your new job. 995-2428

* Paid canvassers sought by WCWC to help stop the destruction of the oldgrowth forest. Also, help for Gulf Islands ‘camp & canvass’ trip. Call Diona or Lisa 388-9292

* Congratulations to Ruth Masters, life-long campaigner in Comox, and Maia Green, here in Victoria, for being honoured with BC 2000 Environmental Awards.


Ever wonder about investing in a socially and environmentally responsible manner ? VanCity has launched a new International Community Investment Deposit which invests in projects to help low-income and marginalized communities around the world become self-reliant through microlending, affordable housing, small businesses, community development and co-op and credit union development. Minimum investment $1,000, RRSP eligible, 0% - 3% for 1-3 years. For professional advice in ethical investment in Victoria, call Frank Arnold 382-9983, Doug Campbell 953-2362, Steve Housser, 365-4910, Michael Mascall 595-2393 or Brian Pinch 598-0757


An official British government report recommends that children should avoid using cellular phones for all but essential calls, because of the possible health effects on their brains. The scientific jury is still out, but since little is understood about the non-thermal effects of radiation on human brain tissue, and because children have much thinner skulls, the report recommends taking a precautionary approach. (New Scientist, May 16th) The dangers are unproven, but there are documented cases of adult heavy phone-users getting cancer of the brain in the area of the brain that receives the signals.


In the recent EcoStar Awards, the Provincial Capital Commission gave Greenways Awards to the District of Langford, for the successful completion of the Langford Trail Master Plan, and to Bob Elliott, for his tireless effort to realize the new Hillman Road Trail in Metchosin, which starts at the junction of Rocky Point Road & Happy Valley Road (try it out, this summer !). A sincere round of thanks and appreciation also goes to Pam Charlesworth and her team, who initiated the vision of Victoria as a city criss-crossed with greenways in her role as chair of the PCC, back in 1994. The dream lives !


Derrick Mallard writes : Every year, from April to September, concerned field observers on Vancouver Island, mostly in the CRD, trek out and count butterflies at specific locations. Their counts enable us to determine where populations are decreasing, and determine why. Habitat loss, the use of pesticides and climate change are having a considerable impact on these fascinating and beautiful insects. Though not in the same class as bees, butterflies are nevertheless pollinators, thus, apart from our joy to behold them as they pirouette by us in the summer, they do fulfill a useful biological function. Worldwide, they pollinate 8% of flowering plants. As our human actions multiply, it is inevitable their populations will decrease. Global climate change is becoming another factor - 1998 was a dry summer on the southern Vancouver Island, and two locations where butterflies have been observed in previous years yielded zero observations; the wild plants they derive their nectar from had died due to dry soil conditions. Weather variability, or climate change? Visits to one these locations in April and May garnered very few butterfly species, and it was evident that many more plants and bushes were sick and dry, and may not recover. In 1999, aerial spraying to eradicate the Gypsy Moth larvae also took place over parts of the CRD. The insecticide used, BTk, is lethal to all lepidoptera (moths and butterflies), so many butterflies in the larval stage were killed. Compared to the 1998 CRD count of 16,350, there was a disastrous 40% reduction (10,000 less) in 1999. If we want to lose these beautiful insects and other living organisms, we are already on the way. Our profligate use of pesticides is creating havoc. We must stop spraying with these deadly pesticides, and use other methods to control the Gypsy Moth. Boycott the companies which advertise to rid your property of "bugs and caterpillars." Create butterfly friendly habitats in your garden with plants they can lay their eggs on, and where their larvae can feed. Grow flowers to provide nectar for the butterflies. Climatic conditions have also energized an extensive growth of broom. In areas of Sooke, some of the wildflower flora that provide nectar for butterflies have been virtually smothered by it. We must control this invasive shrub. To take part in the 11th annual butterfly program, call Derrick Mallard at 642-3487 (Citizens Action to Save the Environment Society)


The destruction of our world in our own lifetime is a traumatic event. If we witness the ongoing destruction consciously, we also witness widespread dissociation, disempowerment and despair: predictable human responses to increasing reports of escalating environmental degradation and eventual doom. Although the need for change is urgent, there remains great hope, for reality is created by our choices and our actions. We need only to rediscover the interconnectedness of creation and our place within that web. We need only to transform our personal despair into joyful determination to work for a life-loving future, to make that future so. On August 19th – 20th there is a Sacred Ecology Retreat at Kindwood Farm. In an environment of safety, connectedness and trust, participants will have the opportunity to explore their natural feelings of rage and grief concerning the destruction of our world, and to move from confusion and hopelessness to clarity and empowerment. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for; together we have the power to create the life-loving future we desire so dearly. For details, call Jackie Robson @ 361-9446 or Debra Faulk @ 380-7267.


In response to last month’s comment about towns in New Jersey achieving 65% recycling, Tony Law called to say that Hornby is achieving 66%. He writes : "A well-loved - and much used - feature of our recycling depot is the Free Store where we leave any useful items we no longer need. Many of the best-dressed folks on the Island use it to clothe themselves; in fact there is a certain amount of prestige if you can announce, when someone praise your outfit, that it all came from the Free store. Last week a friend found a guitar amplifier in good working order. Others have picked up such items as a zodiac boat, a computer, a car. The Free Store can present problems though. A friend asked her son to take the stuff in their hallway to the depot. He obliged, but also took the vacuum cleaner, which was sitting next to the recyclables. She's now trying to find out who scored a vacuum cleaner at the Free Store!". Not to be outdone, 25 out of New Zealand’s 74 local governments have joined the Zero Waste Alliance, aiming to achieve 100% recycling by 2015. Hornby – are you going to let them beat you to it ? Congratulations to Ellie Roelofsen for Saanich’s Long-Term Environmental Achievement Award. Ellie helped start Saanich’s recycling efforts 25 years ago, has served on endless committees, volunteers for everything, and sends one (yes, one) bin of garbage to the Hartland Road dump a year.


If we don’t find ways to change our business practices and create a proper balance between business and nature, we can kiss our hopes of a sustainable future goodbye. Fortunately, the world of business is waking to the challenge, and some of the leaders are coming to Victoria July 12th – 13th to share what is happening around the Pacific Northwest. From Oregon, Larry Chalfan, ex-President of Oki Semiconductor manufacturing, is coming up to talk about the Zero Waste Alliance that is forming among businesses, colleges and governments to merge ‘green chemistry’ with ‘industrial ecology’, helping businesses use fewer resources and eliminate their waste streams while becoming more competitive. (No link to the New Zealand Zero Waste Alliance). From Whistler, Suzanne Denbak is coming from Tourism Whistler to share the intention that every business in Whistler might adopt ‘The Natural Step’ as a means to become eco-sustainable. From the Sunshine Coast, Brian Nattrass and Mary Altomare are coming to talk about The Natural Step, and to run a workshop (see Diary). If you have friends who are in business, make sure they know this is happening!

Conference July 12th & 13th




The Natural Step, Tools & Systems for managing change

Local Leaders of Change

Ocean Pointe Resort

(250) 598-0270


The BC government and several conservation groups have launched a new website designed to help British Columbians conserve more land, water, fish and wildlife habitat. The site contains case studies of successful projects, bylaws, planning methods, management practices, local government websites, the complete Stewardship Series (eg Stream Stewardship Guide) & more.


Organic Plant Nursery

Winter Vegetables &

Bedding Plant Sale

Sat August 26th – Mon Sept 4th, 10-5

395 Conway Road

off Interurban, just past the college



There’s a massive campaign, struggle and hope going on on Salt Spring to try to stop the clearcutting and over-logging of the Island’s forest by Texada. Salt Spring has seen protests, arrests, tears, fear, young people being threatened and hurt by angry loggers, a paraplegic in a wheelchair chained to a logging truck, and an 87 year-old grandmother being removed bodily from a peaceful roadblock. The Green Party has set up the Green Conscience Fund to receive donations to help with food for the peace camp, legal defense, and educational and outreach work, and opened an office at 136 Ganges Rd as a meeting point for the campaign for sustainable forestry and the protection of the sensitive and important Mount Maxwell watershed. "The fact that clearcut logging occurred on Salt Spring before doesn’t matter. These are new days, and people demand new ways of living in a world that is finite and seems to have gotten smaller. But change will come because brave souls stand up for works of conscience." (Wally du Temple) The Fund is asking people of conscience to step forward with donations (eligible for tax deductions). Green Conscience Fund, Green Party of Canada, Box 2159, Sidney, BC V8L 3S6


The Carmanah Forestry Society is publishing an eco-tourism map for South-Central Vancouver Island in early August, with detailed hiking maps of the Carmanah, Walbran, Nahmint, Clayoquot Sound, Grant's Grove, Caycuse Deer trail. A must for sensible backroad travel 381-1141



They’re still logging 1,000 year old trees in the Elaho, and the Great Bear Rainforest, trees, habitat and all.

Action: Write to Premier Dossanjh, and your local MLA, to urge that it stop. Leg Assembly, Victoria, V8V 1Z4.

Check out the Victoria Green Pages !

Deadline for September 2000: August 24th

The Green Diary has moved!  Click HERE to see whats happening!



EcoNews provides this electronic version of the newsletter free of charge even though it costs time and money to produce. Please feel free to repost. You can help by making a donation, whether $5 or $100, to:

EcoNews, 395 Conway Road, Victoria V8X 3X1, Canada. Thanks !

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Click here for previous issues of EcoNews.

EcoNews, Guy Dauncey
395 Conway Road, Victoria V8X 3X1
Tel/Fax (250) 881-1304

Sustainable Communities Consultancy

Author of 'After the Crash : The Emergence of the Rainbow Economy'
(Greenprint, London, 1988. 3rd edition 1997)

Now Available!
'Earthfuture : Stories from a Sustainable World'
(New Society Publishers, November 1999)
An ecofictional novel

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