In 2009, 12-year-old Olivia Peters and her mother were out for a walk through a small forest in their hometown of Surrey, British Columbia when they discovered many of the trees there, some nearly a century old, had been marked with orange paint and numbered tags. After learning that the woods were slated to be chopped down to make room for a new housing development, Olivia knew that she needed to do her part to save them.
Faced with the prospect of losing one of her favorite spots in town, 12-year-old Olivia penned a letter to Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts asking her to reconsider the plan to cut down the trees. A local paper, , helped spread the word by publishing the 6th-grader’s impassioned plea to preserve the forest:
“We were highly disappointed because this forest is in the area where I grew up and am currently growing up, and I don’t want to think of it as a place for new houses or even a park to be built,” writes Olivia. “Some trees in the forest are nearly 100 years old and it’s not right to be cutting these trees down. A lot of Surrey has no more forests, and I think we really need to protect areas where there are still some left… A lot of people say that you are doing this for the future of Surrey. Well, I and a lot of my friends and family are the future of Surrey, and if plans like this keep getting the thumbs up, there will be no future for Surrey.”
Sure enough, Olivia’s call for preserving the forest was joined by others around town—spurring city leaders to reject the initial proposal. Under a new plan put in place, the scale of development was altered to keep much more of Olivia’s beloved wooded area intact for future generations.
“She’s quite passionate about stuff,” says Olivia’s mother, Lois. “Maybe one day she’ll change the world. Right now she’s just trying to change her little part of it.”
Thanks to her willingness to advocate for a greener future in her hometown, the forest that Olivia fought to protect will be around for decades to come — standing as a testament to what is possible when concerned citizens speak-up on behalf of nature, no matter their age.
Via The Providence
Lead Image © Jacob Zinn