NEWS RELEASE · 27th May 2010
BC NDP Caucus
Legislation being introduced today by New Democrat MLA Scott Fraser would protect British Columbia’s rare and beautiful cave ecosystems from destruction.
“British Columbia is one of the most ecologically diverse regions of Canada. An important contributor to this diversity is our wealth of documented caves,” said Fraser, the MLA for Alberni-Pacific Rim. “I’m introducing the Cave Protection Act to protect our caves and the natural and cultural resources within them.”
Currently, caves in the province have few protections. Many culturally and environmentally significant cave sites have already been destroyed or degraded, while others have been damaged by vandals and thrill seekers. The Cave Protection Act gives government the ability to prosecute vandals and to regulate potentially harmful uses.
“The Cave Protection Act will give government, First Nations and cave scientists the tools to ensure that our caves and the natural treasures within them remain for generations to come,” said Fraser. “This act will replace the current haphazard approach to protecting caves with a systematic framework that takes into account the priceless value of these irreplaceable ecosystems.”
Paul Griffiths, an internationally renowned cave expert, says the protection of caves in British Columbia is long overdue.
“Every year that the government delays bringing in legislation to protect caves is another year that the destruction of these valued and vulnerable ecosystems continues,” said Griffiths. “Caves can provide habitat for rare organisms and larger caves can serve as a vital component of watersheds by protecting resident fish and aquatic communities from abrupt temperature fluctuations.”
Derek Ford, former president of the International Speleological Union and Emeritus Professor of Geography and Earth Sciences at McMaster University, expressed his full support for the initiative, saying, “Caves and their associated fresh water aquifers are fragile, easy to damage physically and to pollute chemically, difficult or impossible to repair or clean up afterwards.”
Fraser has received support for his bill from cave experts and enthusiasts from as far away as Australia. Environmental organizations including the Sierra Club of B.C. and the Wilderness Committee also support the bill.
“This is an issue that cuts across partisan lines and goes to the heart of what it means to be British Columbian,” said Fraser. “I hope that both sides of the House can join together to protect our beautiful and fragile cave ecosystems.”
Carole James and New Democrats are working with British Columbians from all walks of life, all corners of B.C., and all sectors of our economy to build a better British Columbia for the people of this province.