Fall 2019-January 2020
The BC government has recently appointed an independent panel to engage the public on the ecological, economic and cultural importance of old-growth trees and forests.
We encourage all British Columbia residents to request a meeting with the panel or to write to the panel to express their views on old-growth forests. Their processes aren’t great, but we have to use this opportunity to press hard on the need to protect old-growth right now, not later. With old-growth forests in peril in this province, it’s important that our voices be heard, because urgent action is necessary.
This is what the panel has asked to hear from the public:
- What old-growth means to you and how you value it
- Your perspective on how old-growth is managed now
- How you think old-growth could be managed more effectively in the future
The panel is made up of two people: Garry Merkel (forester and member of the Tahltan Nation in Northwestern BC) and Al Gorley (forester). They have a history of working with industry and government. They insist that they will be truly independent and will develop their recommendations without censorship from the provincial government.
Their mandate is to listen and to summarize what they hear, reporting back to the Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (FLNRORD) in spring 2020 with “recommendations that are expected to inform a new approach to old-growth management for British Columbia.”
Information on Old-Growth Forests
We have prepared a set of resources on old-growth forests in BC and encourage you to view it to help inform your viewpoint.
- Sierra Club BC’s Forest Campaign website, with a wealth of links to resources, media releases, fact sheets and maps: https://RainforestIsland.ca/
- Our Forest Webinar series (see, in particular, “Old-Growth Update” and “Forest Planet”) https://sierraclub.bc.ca/forest-webinars/
- Latest polling data (9 in 10 British Columbians Support Protecting Old-Growth) https://sierraclub.bc.ca/9-in-10-support-protecting-old-growth/
- Old-growth backgrounder (2 pages, PDF): https://sierraclub.bc.ca/wp-content/uploads/OldGrowthBackgrounder_Nov2019.pdf
Legal changes are needed to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) in forestry laws in order to respect Indigenous jurisdiction and governance, support Indigenous-led conservation, and support economic alternatives for Nations that seek to protect more land. We encourage supporters to gain an understanding of UNDRIP and to learn about Indigenous law with resources from UVic’s Indigenous Law Research Unit.
Schedule, Deadlines and How to Participate
There are four ways to have your voice heard. Feedback is due by 4pm on Friday January 31, 2020.
- Request a meeting with the panel in person in locations below or via phone or video call. We are strongly encouraging anyone concerned about the state of old-growth to request a meeting with the panel. Sign up here. Then let us know whether you got a meeting and how it went by filling out this form. These are the dates the panel will be visiting locations around the province:
- Oct 24/25 – South Central Van Island
- Oct 28-31 – Skeena / Nechako
- Nov 7/8 – North Vancouver Island
- Nov 12-15 – Thompson / Shuswap
- Nov 18 and 21 – Vancouver
- Dec 2/3 – Northeast BC
- Dec 4-6 – Vancouver / Sunshine Coast
- Dec 9 – Haida Gwaii
- Dec 12/13 – Vancouver / Victoria
- Dec 16 – Sea to Sky
- Dec 17-20 – Cariboo / Okanagan
- Fill out the questionnaire (three short-answer questions; six check-box questions; four personal questions): https://feedback.engage.gov.bc.ca/747451?lang=en
Please note that you are able to skip questions. There is a text box at the end of the questionnaire to share your reasoning and any additional thoughts on old-growth protection.
- Email written submissions (including drawings) to firstname.lastname@example.org. These may be posted publicly or in the report. See the submission guidelines here: https://engage.gov.bc.ca/oldgrowth/guidelines-for-formal-submissions/
You can learn more about the Strategic Review process here: https://engage.gov.bc.ca/oldgrowth/
Call for Bold Changes to Forestry Laws Too
The BC government has also been thinking about how to improve the way forests are managed in BC. Soon, through a separate process, it’ll be revealing changes to the Forest & Range Practices Act (FRPA).
Changes to forestry laws need to include protections for old-growth. Let’s make sure this government gets the message that intact forests are important for bears and salmon, for Indigenous peoples, for storing carbon and for protecting communities in the face of climate change.
Photo: TJ Watt/Ancient Forest Alliance