Protecting old-growth forests reduces climate risks for communities

The climate crisis is bringing more severe fires, flooding, heatwaves, and landslides to B.C. communities. Did you know that logging B.C.’s last old-growth forests and the continued industrial degradation of forest landscapes will make these climate impacts even worse?

September 11, 2023, marked the three-year anniversary of the Old Growth Strategic Report, a key milestone considering the three-year implementation timeline for all of the report’s 14 recommendations. David Eby promised to “accelerate” action on old growth when he became Premier in 2022. But to this day, none of the 14 recommendations are fully implemented and the most at-risk old growth continues to be destroyed.

Global heating is putting the health and safety of communities in danger, and clearcut logging—particularly of old-growth forests—is making things worse. Clearcutting increases the risk of flooding, erosion and landslides. It also exacerbates heat waves and increases the number and size of forest fires.

Read SCBC’s report on reducing community climate risks through forest protection and a paradigm shift in forest management. 

In contrast, old intact forests support ecosystem function and resilience, lowering climate risks for surrounding communities. This means the province can mitigate climate-related disasters like flooding, droughts, fires and heatwaves by protecting and restoring intact forests before the climate crisis worsens. Following through on the recommendations laid out in the Old Growth Strategic Review willl get us a long way to reducing climate risks.

Accelerating action will require:

  • Speeding up progress on deferrals for at-risk old growth;
  • Making conservation funding available as soon as possible (this was promised for the summer of 2023, which has now passed), and making sure it is directly tied to addressing short and long-term impacts of both temporary deferrals and permanent protection. This is needed to take the pressure off First Nations, who often depend on logging revenue;
  • Expediting progress in implementing the promised biodiversity paradigm shift in forest stewardship, decision-making, and planning, which is meant to prioritize community and ecological values over timber values;
  • Honest, transparent, detailed information on implementation, deferrals, and logging rates.

The extreme climate impacts our region and the world is experiencing in 2023 highlight the need to act quickly. Remaining primary, old-growth and mature forests are quickly becoming our best hope to maintain natural carbon sinks and reduce climate impacts—with research showing that industrially degraded landscapes are particularly vulnerable to mega-fires.

For the safety of communities across B.C., please add your voice today to make sure B.C.’s Minister of Forests, Bruce Ralston, works with First Nations to address delays and speed up implementation of all 14 recommendations made by the Old Growth Strategic Review.

Your letter will be sent to B.C.’s Minister of Forests, Bruce Ralston, and cc’d to Premier David Eby; B.C.’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, George Heyman; the Minister of Water, Land and Resource Stewardship, Nathan Cullen; and your local MLA. 

Call on the B.C. government to reform forestry practices!