sueHow is it that we are half-way through September already? The summer is nearing its end, as the leaves change color and kids go back to school. This month I’ll be casting some waning summer light on Vancouver, Canada and The Wilderness Committee. From Vancouver, Sue Fox, works as Production and Publications Director creating and producing all of their publications and for many aspects of their public outreach program. The Wilderness Committee is a nonprofit society, an organisation active in dozens of campaigns to protect Canada’s ecologically significant wilderness areas through strategic research and grassroots public education. Let’s dive in!

Suzanna Baum (SB): Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions for the Environmental Paper Network, Sue. We spoke recently about the Environmental Paper Network’s Common Vision and our conversation immediately sparked some questions in me. First of all, I want to know what you and the Wilderness Committee are focused on right now as a priority for protecting Canada’s biodiversity.

Sue Fox (SF): We have dozens of campaigns with offices from Ontario to the coast of British Columbia. Some of the top issues are protecting wild lands, safeguarding wildlife, defending public lands, preserving the Pacific coast and promoting a healthy climate.

SB: One of the goals you mentioned in our past conversation is protection for all remaining old-growth forests.  What can be done to give these forests more protection?

SF: At the top level:

–       Stop raw log exports. (keep the wood in NA.)

–       Double our Provincial and State parks.

–       Increase conservation officers for the protection wild lands and wildlife.

–       Use Endangered Species Legislation to protect habitat for old-growth dependent species ie: the Northern spotted owl.

On a personal level:

–       Reuse wood from around your house or at work. (ie: Old pallets make great risers for your garden pots, or for your new composter, and there are lots of other ideas… )

–       Recycle everything, try not have any garbage leave your house for a month, only recycling.

–       Be a wise wood buyer; ask where the wood is from, use alternative building products instead of wood.

SB: Can you tell us more about some of the mapping projects of the Wilderness Committee and how they are used in your education efforts?

SF: Mapping has been part of the Wilderness Committee’s tools from the start in 1980. Our maps show everything from where the old-growth forests once were to where the grizzly bears originally roam in Canada. Our current mapping project is a Google earth map showing where Kinder Morgan is planning to put in the pipeline and you can zoom is to any place on the route, even where you live.

SB:  What does sustainable consumption and production advocated by the Environmental Paper Network have to do with wilderness?  How can responsible behavior by consumers and companies help your efforts to protect biodiversity and wilderness?

SF: There are so many aspects of the latest revamp of EPN Vision that relate not only to companies but also to local communities.

The key words are: Reducing, reusing and recycling SAVES TREES!

One important vision is to keep the wood in the community by:

–       banning raw log exports

–       reopening the mills as a local co-op owned business

–       abiding by the 100 mile radius for buying building products for your house

–       recycling all wood and getting creative about making alternative wood products ie: furniture

The EPN Vision should be shared far and wide for everyone to read.

SB: Can you give us some examples of how the Wilderness Committee has played a role in maintaining Vancouver’s high standards of sustainable living?

SF: Every staff person and volunteer who crosses into our realm tries to be as low impact on our planet as possible.

A few examples are by:

–       Promoting low impact camping and hiking, especially with our field explorations. Treat our forests with care.

–       Promoting healthy communities through climate change so people will live better within the city

–       Educating and sharing our information. We get out into the community with town hall meetings, person booths and we distribute our newspapers.

SB:  What’s in your paper that’s used by the Wilderness Committee for your publications?

SF: We publish newsletters, calendars and poll cards. We are continuing to reduce our quantities printed every year. We use a wide variety of paper stocks, which are sourced and calculated through Canopy’s Eco Paper Database. Some of the papers we use are Enviroprint matte, Mohawk Loop and Envirographic, all are FSC, and we only use UV inks which are 100% greenhouse gas free. Both our printing plants have the “Chain-of-custody” certification through the Smartwood program.

For example we print 2 calendars, totally 35,000 per year. (Over 60 trees saved, 15,000 kgs wood reduced, 820,000 liters water not used, and 2,300 kgs less in the landfill.)

These calendars not only go to all our members and sold in local stores; they also are given free to media, members of parliament, scientists, First Nations, community centers and schools.

SB: If you could give the environmental movement one piece of advice, what would it be?

SF: Wow, that’s a tall order as I look to other environmental groups for guidance and we all try to have same messaging when it comes to saving wild places and wild life. I think we all believe in practicing what we preach and as an environmentalist it is our job to tell the truth, to share our information to the public and to stand up for our public lands and the wild life that lives there.


I’d like to thank Sue for sharing with us, and you for learning more about another one of our members.  Please keep an eye out in October for our next featured member.