I write regarding Wildwood. I understand you have plans to sell it to a private owner, and I urge you to reconsider this decision before it’s too late.
I first came to Wildwood in 1997, as part of the LIFE flotilla (Leadership Initiative For Earth) and have visited Wildwood on many occasions. The work that the late Merv Wilkinson pioneered through so many decades has resulted in the most amazing forest environment. What makes it so special is the fact that it is a rich forest environment despite being sustainably logged for many years. Indeed, after Merv began working it, the forest saw the return of many animal species.
Wildwood has many special trees — from giant old-growth Douglas fir, scarred and stately cedars, to tiny saplings. I planted one of those saplings in 2005, in honour of my friend, Anne Pask-Wilkinson, Merv’s third wife. Merv and Anne were both friends of mine, and like the old-growth trees on Wildwood, we have lost too many of our giants. We must plant new trees, and the most important tree we can plant is hope.
People all over the world look to Wildwood as proof that we can do things differently; that we can find a way to harvest the wood we need while protecting the Earth. That was Merv and Anne’s passion. That was why they were both arrested in 1993 for blockading the logging of old-growth forests in Clayoquot Sound.
Selling Wildwood to a private owner, even with a covenant to protect it, is not what the Wilkinsons wanted. They wanted Wildwood to be a public property forever, a demonstration working ecoforest where generations can learn that you don’t have to chop the forest down to benefit from it.
Merv, Anne and thousands of donors donated to protect Wildwood in perpetuity. I am very concerned that if we fail now, people will stop giving and working to protect our special places. If we can’t protect Wildwood, a 77-acre forest, how can we protect anything?
This is why I urge you to reconsider your private sale of Wildwood and return to negotiations with the Ecoforestry Institute. I understand that negotiations for the protection of Wildwood broke down, but I ask you to be patient. We must secure the future of this rare and precious place in the public realm while there is still time.
Wildwood is a precious gift and deserves to be conserved for the benefit of our children, our grandchildren and theirs. Together, we have a final opportunity to secure Wildwood in the form that Merv and Anne intended and sacrificed so much for, and as The Land Conservancy promised them.
I look forward to learning the outcome of this situation.
–Jane Goodall Ph.D., DBE, Founder – the Jane Goodall Institute & UN Messenger of Peace