Over the summer, Canadian activist Tzeporah Berman made headlines for participating in actor Leonardo DiCaprio's new environmental documentary The 11th Hour. But now the group she co-founded is being accused of selling-out by some fellow tree huggers - although not to Hollywood. Last month, ForestEthics along with nine other environmental groups announced its support for the Campbell administration's mountain caribou recovery plan, which protects more than 2.2 million hectares of old-growth cedar, pine and spruce forests. That endorsement, though, wasn't welcomed by Valhalla Wilderness Committee chairperson Anne Sherrod.
In an email, Ms. Sherrod questioned why ForestEthics was reportedly "got the biggest nod" from Agriculture and Lands Minister Pat Bell when what she described as the "most anti-environment government ever" rolled out its recovery plan.
And, in another message to the same environmental listserv, activist Ingmar Lee alleged ForestEthics "secretly" negotiated with "Gordon and the logging community" to develop that plan.
But Ms. Berman shrugged off those accusations. "There are no big secrets, no 'back room deals'. There is normal lobbying and what I believe is some good organizing and communications campaigns and some excellent markets interventions," she replied.
"If you think you could protect more forest faster or that you have a better smarter strategy than I hope you are right. More power to you," Ms. Berman continued. "I wake up every morning wondering if there is something I am missing, some way to make change faster, smarter more effective strategy. In the end we can only do our best and support others to do the same." The following is a complete copy of that reply.
On 22/10/2007, Tzeporah Berman
Candace and our allies in the mountain caribou project have sent out an update which addresses many of your concerns. However since you addressed me personally I thought I would respond personally.
There are no big secrets, no 'back room deals'. There is normal lobbying and what I believe is some good organizing and communications campaigns and some excellent markets interventions. I suppose I would have said to Colleen the same thing that I am saying to you: We are trying as hard as we can to protect old growth forests. When a government or company stands up and makes a solid commitment to protect a significant amount of forests we are going to congratulate them and celebrate. Especially if we think that our public support will mean the difference in whether those forests are destroyed or not or whether more will be protected in the future. I suppose you can argue that we should wait until its all protected to call it a victory but I think that is unrealistic and I for one need moments of celebration, inspiration and hope in order to keep on keepin' on.
We at ForestEthics are just working as hard as we can to protect endangered species and some of the most important forests that we have left. On the way we are trying to change some of the habits of major corporations that buy wood and paper products. Would it be better if we could protect more? Absolutely. Should all of the inland temperate rainforest be protected? No question. Would I support a ban on all old growth logging in BC? You bet I would. If I had a magic wand I would do it tomorrow. If you think you could protect more forest faster or that you have a better, smarter strategy than I hope you are right. More power to you. We live in challenging times. I am only too aware that every moment counts and that we are responsible in the climate era not only for what we do but for what we don't do. I wake up every morning wondering if there is something I am missing, some way to make change faster, some smarter more effective strategy. In the end we can only do our best and support others to do the same.