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Guy Dauncey, Editor
395 Conway Road, Victoria, BC
CANADA V9E 2B9
Tel (250) 881-1304
www.earthfuture.com

Executive director of The Solutions Project

 

 ECONEWS


Newsletter No. 51 - Serving Vancouver Island's Environmental Community - June 1996


FIVE NEW YEARS !

We have a new government ! Well, the same government, but with a new mandate, and five years in which to prepare British Columbia for the 21st century. What a relief !

The question is : how do we move forward on a road that will lead us towards sustainability and hope, and away from the ecological and social entropy we are otherwise headed for ?

Just two days before the election, Glen Clark released a Sustainable Environment Charter, to a deafening silence from the media (see inside). It is a great start : the task now is to build on this foundation. The Green Party, which doubled its vote from the 1991 election, should come on board and help with the work; the time is too critical and the party has too much to offer to be left on the sidelines. This is the time for outrageous vision, stunning imagination, and well-researched, practical solutions.

On the land, we suffer from a sense of ecological disconnection. We need to re-align our regional district boundaries and our forest management boundaries so that they match the Island's regional watershed boundaries, and then set up Watershed Stewardship Councils to govern them, protecting the integrity of the watersheds and bringing together the various stakeholders to create solutions in a sound ecological manner.

In the forest, in spite of recent reforms, the forest ecosystem is still seen as an obstacle to profit, not a partner. We need Forest Stewardship Councils for each of the new regional watersheds, to which forest managers would be answerable. The Councils could be given responsibility for regulating the sale of lumber and receive stumpage fees to pay for management and restoration. An upgraded Forest Practices Code needs to embody ecoforestry principles, alongside Glen Clark's social clauses committing licensees to increased job creation. And with tenure reform, we could increase the percentage of forest being managed in woodlots and community forests, by people living locally.

Then there is urban sprawl, which ravages the harmony of the land just as clearcutting ravages the forest. A Sustainable Planning Act needs to replace the Growth Management Act, requiring each regional district to develop plans for urban containment boundaries, greenspace and ecological protection, local economic development, affordable housing, neighbourhood shopping centres, and cycling and pedestrian routes. An EcoVillages Act could create the social and ecological framework for new settlements.

To speed up the progress of sustainable technologies, we could learn from Holland (see inside), and create tax incentives to encourage investment in solar and recycling technologies, ecovillages, organic farms, ecoforestry, sustainable bulding materials, and renewable energy.

Whatever we do, we cannot avoid the imminent food crisis that will soon see prices rising sharply, and low income families suffering accordingly. Already this year, wheat prices have jumped from $150 to $200 a tonne. World surpluses are rapidly vanishing, and climate disturbances will only make things worse. We need emergency planning to ensure that nothing stands in the way of agriculture. Without clearing any more forest, Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands could become a serious exporter of food to the cities. We could become known for the quality of our organic food, free from pesticides, free from poison.

The business community could get excited about all this, once it understood the opportunities. In Vermont, businesses are joining Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility, which actively lobbies for higher environmental standards and better legislation for sustainable jobs, while educating its members about green business practices. As Glen Clark so often says, the old divisions are no longer meaningful. The NDP needs to become the friend of business, as well as of working families - we need each other to work together for a better future.

The coming years are going to bring repeated weather disasters, forest fires, crop failures and unexpected diseases, as the global atmosphere heaves and sways from the excess carbon dioxide. We need to create a firm vision of solar designed ecovillage settlements, both within our cities and in the countryside. There are many people who long to find a way to live in greater harmony with nature, with a stronger sense of community and safety for their children, focussing on quality, fulfilment and meaning, instead of material gain. There is so much pent-up vision - we just need to create the frameworks to release it, and let it fly. And Winnie the Pooh ? He's just there to remind us it's summer, and to enjoy doing nothing, as well as working.

- Guy Dauncey


ECONEWS

Published as a monthly service, nourishing the vision of an Island blessed by the harmony of nature and community, funded by your donations.

Many thanks to Rick Hoogendoorn, Peter Ronald, Robert Wickson, Pauline Penner, John Azar, Silvia Schreiver, Joanne Manley, Barbara Scott, Focus on Women, Hank & Margaret Schubart, Gail Schultz, Alan Cassels, Heather MacAndrew, Margaret Fear, Maggie Warbey, Maurice Tozer, Todd & Renate Wellman, Commuter Connections, Bernice Packford, John Smith, Beverley Jaster, Ian Wight, Ken Wardroper, Bamfield Preservation and Development Society, Deryck Thompson, Lloyd Elling, Tony Quinn, Michael & Barbara Clague, Bob Peart, Ralph Morton, Kay Look, Dirk Becker, Rob Lowrie and Joan Douglas. And thanks for your kinds words and thoughts, too ! They are all appreciated.

Donations can be made to EcoNews, 395 Conway Road, Victoria V8X 3X1. If you don't want to receive EcoNews, or are going away, please let us know - it avoids wasting the postage. To receive EcoNews call (250) 881-1304, or email guydauncey@earthfuture.com


GREEN INVESTMENTS GRANTED TAX-FREE STATUS IN HOLLAND

Pinch yourself : this is for real, not ecofiction. In Holland, where the whole country has signed on an ambitious Green Plan with widespread support from industry as well as environmental groups, 'The European' newspaper reports that the government last year declared that all revenues from investments in approved green projects would be tax-free. The move triggered such an explosion of interest that Rabobank, the first Dutch bank to launch a green investment fund, was unable to meet the demand, since too few projects met the government's approval standards. The government therefore widened the scope of the measure to include general nature protection projects and sustainable construction programs, and banks now have two years to meet the requirement that at least 70% of their green funds should be invested in environmentally friendly projects. (Many green funds seek to stabilize their portfolios with 'neutral' investments in bonds and software industries). As a result of the change, the Postbank, Holland's largest retailing bank, is preparing to set up the first 'green bank'. Postbank Green intends to offer fixed interest rates, and loans will be granted at below market rates to increase the chances of green projects succeeding. Investors will get a lower return on their savings, but the tax-free status will make up for it - so in effect, the banks are passing the benefits of the tax-free status onto green business projects. The other Dutch banks are expected to join in the battle for billions of guilders by establishing their own green banking funds. My response - WOW ! Let's petition the new Glen Clark government to follow the Dutch example, and make a similar move here in B.C., to encourage the environmental sector.


SHAREHOLDERS TRY TO GREEN THE DEUTCHE BANK

There was a second vote on May 28th of equal significance to the B.C. vote - but I don't know the result yet. That was when the Union of CriticalShareholders, whose members hold shares worth millions of deutschmarks, proposed a motion to shareholders to change the Bank's statutes to end all finance for ecologically unsound projects, defense and atomic power industries, gene technology and pesticide production. They also wanted to prevent any deals with countries with poor human rights records. According to The European, the bank was expected to fend off the challenge. But remember, it took the suffragettes 70 years of campaigning before they succeeded in 1919. The Union will doubtless be back - and back again.


THE NATURAL STEP

In Sweden, the Natural Step has emerged as a powerful force in promoting environmental awareness across all sectors of society. Founded by the scientist, Dr Karl-Henrick Robert, the organization has established a set of four basic principles of sustainability which have been endorsed by politicians, business and union leaders, scientists, artists, academics, students and all. The principles are used to increase awareness, and create the potential for changed personal and organizational and behaviour. Major companies, public organizations and unions are using the principles to examine their operations and strategic goals. In Toronto, on June 7th, a group of scientists, business people, educators and government officials are bringing the Natural Step to Canada, at a meeting which Paul Hawken, author of 'Ecology of Commerce', is speaking. If you want to contact the group, call Ellen Hayakawa at Environment Canada, (819) 953-6014, fax 994-0549.


THE SUSTAINABLE ENVIRONMENT CHARTER

On May 26th, Glen Clark unveiled a Sustainable Environment Charter, setting out 8 principles which will guide his government. The Charter is so important that here it is, word for word :

1. STEWARDSHIP. 'Stewardship of our environment must take a long-term and integrated view of resource management, recognizing the dependent relationship of humans on the environment and that environmental health is fundamental to economic and human health.'

2. SUSTAINABILITY. 'Resources should not be used beyond their capacity to be naturally replenished, both in quality and quantity, for the well-being of future generations.'

3. PRECAUTIONARY PRINCIPLE. 'The onus of proof should be on parties proposing actions which could cause serious or irreversible damage to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that no damage will be caused.'

4. POLLUTION PREVENTION. 'Reduction or elimination of pollutants should be at their source. This contrasts with 'end-of-pipe' controls on waste generated after the damage has been done.'

5. USER PAYS. 'Users of environmental resources should pay fair value for the use of this natural capital, and should exercise this privilege with care and consideration for other living beings. The user pay principle places the responsibility for sound environmental stewardship of products on industry, from the point of manufacturing to the point of final disposal.'

6. ENVIRONMENTAL EQUITY. 'All species - plant, animal and human - have an intrinsic right to a healthy environment, and this right extends beyond the present generation to the future generations. No segment of these populations should bear disproportionately high adverse effects.'

7. SHARED RESPONSIBILITY. 'Full participation and commitment of all societal groups fosters a smoother transition to sustainability than would be possible if these groups worked independently.'

8. ENFORCEMENT. 'Environmental regulations will be strictly enforced with tough penalties and public accountability.'

Clark says his government will follow up with two immediate legislative initiatives for cleaner air and water. A Clean Air Act will be introduced with explicit targets to reduce air pollution by 25% by 2005, 50% by 2015, with the preparation of comprehensive, enforceable airshed plans to address long-term air quality problems, and the toughest motor vehicle emission standards in the world. Action will be taken to reduce all ozone-depleting substances 85% by 1997, 100% by 2001, and the province will implement a greenhouse emissions plan to stabilize greenhouse gases at 1990 levels by 2000 (the UN Rio commitment). Clark will also introduce a Clean Water Act, setting new strictly enforced standards for drinking water, and targets so that by 2005 BC will have no water bodies in poor or borderline condition. The government will establish community watersheds, aquifers and other specified areas as 'clean water management zones' to protect drinking water and other water uses, and local stewardship groups will be empowered to monitor and assess water quality, disseminate information to the public, and carry out remedial actions to improve water quality. For those who had their qualms about voting NDP and were worried about the government's environmental values, the Charter may help to re-assure you.


OZONE CRISIS - AND GREENLAND'S REINDEER

As you doubtless know, there is now a regular ozone hole over the Arctic, as well as the Antarctic, which reaches down to affect us here in B.C.. We are all at risk, but young children especially. In Australia, where they suffer the effects of the southern hole, 1 person in 3 is now expected to get skin cancer during their life. So please - cover up with hats, and long sleeves. Even in cold weather, the sun can burn in half an hour.

Meanwhile in Greenland, something is damaging the lichens, the primary food for reindeer, whose future looks very precarious. The University of Copenhagen Botanical Institute has tested lichen under UV light, confirming that it is the UV radiation that is damaging the plants - the first specific confirmation that UV radiation is damaging plant life. The implications for the reindeer are grim - and so are the implications for all other plants (and crops) grown under ozone-depleted skies. (Source - Beyond 2000, TV 27)


THE GREAT CRD COMPOSTING CRISIS

There's a storm brewing around the CRD's composting plans for Hartland Road. According to Gary Moonie (479-7880) the method chosen appears to be horribly flawed - it is essentially an outside windrow method, not an in-vessel method, and it has the potential to replace the landfill itself as the region's worst source of odor and grief. There's a meeting on June 5th to look at alternatives -see Diary.


THE BUSINESS OF GOOD FORESTRY

Who is spearheading the global movement for an innovative, certifiable, profitable and genuinely sustainable forest products industry for the 21st century ? People like Bill Howe, who runs an eco-certified single tree selection system in California; Jim Smith, whose Vernon operation has been ecocertified by Herb Hammond's Silva Forest Foundation; George White, who works for Sainsbury's, a major UK retailer which is planning only to buy forest products that have been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council after the year 2000. These and others tell their stories in 'The Business of Good Forestry', produced by Michael M'Gonigle and the UVic Eco-Research people as a follow-up to their symposium last year. It's available for $10 (disc $5, PC or MAC) from Kimberley Stratford, Faculty of Law, UVic MS 8150, PO Box 2400, Victoria V8W 3H7. Cheques made to University of Victoria.


SUMMER CONFERENCES

Plan ahead ! July 19th - 28th, just south across the water on Whidbey Island, there's a 10-day residential training in Applied Deep Ecology at the Chinook Learning Centre, with Joanna Macy, John Seed, Bill Devall and many others. Registration US $675, camping $300, and the days include contemplation, song, dance, storytelling, presentations, group work and hands-on work with nature. Details - Institute for Deep Ecology, PO Box 1050, Occidental, CA 95465. Then from August 18th - 21st there's an Eco-Cities Design Colloquia on Prince Edward Island. An outstanding group of facilitators, including John Todd, Kirkpatrick Sale and Doug Aberley will work with participants to develop a model eco-city along the Charlottetown waterfront on lands the city is currently soliciting proposals for. Details - Phil Ferraro, Inst Bioregional Stud, 449 Univ Ave #126, Charlottetown, PEI, C1A 8K3 (902) 892-9578 (pferraro@cycor.ca). Then October 19-26th in Scotland, the Findhorn Foundation is holding its major international conference on Business for Life : Reconsecrating Our Work, with a host of top speakers who are working to bring spirituality into business. Cost is just over $1,000; details from Business for Life, Findhorn Foundation, Cluny Hill College, Forres IV36 ORD, Scotland. (bizforlife@findhorn.org)


MASON STREET FARM NEWS

The Mason St Urban Farm in Victoria is at a critical stage in negotiating to buy the adjacent house. On purchase, the remaining lots will be taken off the market, and the Farm will have up to five years to purchase them one by one. The house has three bedrooms, so the rent will cover the mortgage, but they urgently need help from someone with the specific skills to ensure the deal is solid - can you help ? Then they will be able to expand the farm by two lots, with a minimal rent increase. The volunteer program has had over a hundred participants, and they are now working with DIGS and Inner City Youth Works. There'll be a room for rent to one or two dedicated farmers in the Mason St. farmhouse immediately. For details, call Paul Winstanley at 920-0257.


ACTION OF THE MONTH : SOOKE HILLS - AYUM CREEK

The Directors of the Water District have backed off from their proposal to swap the Waugh Creek watershed of the Sooke Hills, at least until they have analyzed things more. But right now, there is an immediate danger from the other end !

Ayum Creek runs from the south of the Sooke Hills down into the Sooke basin, at the southernmost end of the Sea-to-Sea Greenbelt proposal (outside the Water District lands). The Society for the Protection of Ayum Creek (SPAC) was set up as a local watershed stewardship society - and they have now learnt that a deal will be completed this summer to log the Ayum Creek land, possibly as soon as July. Without the forest cover the creek will become too hot for the salmon to spawn, and the integrity of the Greenbelt proposal will be lost. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans say they have to prove that any damage to the fishery was caused by logging before they can do anything. (Does something tell you this is a slightly warped way of protecting fish ?) The ideal solution is that the CRD should purchase the 13 acres of Ayum Creek as a regional park, costing perhaps half a million dollars ($1.50 per CRD resident).

ACTION : Please send a letter or fax urgently to the Chair and Directors, CRD Parks Cte, 524 Yates St, Victoria V8W 1K8, Fax 360-3159, requesting protection and purchase of the land. For details, instructions on how to visit the creek, or for a guided tour, call Joanne Manley, SPAC, 642-7278.


NOTICE

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:

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

Available free by mail or email

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

EcoNews is printed on Tree-Free paper from Ecosource