Thousands of hectares of at-risk forests recommended for deferrals already logged, thousands more on the chopping block
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
December 1, 2021
Xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) (VANCOUVER, BC) — Continued logging in some of the most at-risk old-growth forests recommended for deferrals proves that the B.C. government’s old-growth intentions cannot become reality without immediate adequate funding commitments to address short-term impacts, enable Indigenous-led conservation solutions and finance a just transition for workers.
One month has passed since the B.C. government announced new data, mapping and their intention to defer logging across 2.6 million hectares of the most at-risk old-growth in the province. The province shared the mapping of proposed deferrals with all Indigenous Nations across the province, with a request for a response within 30 days.
One month later it remains uncertain, however, how many of the proposed 2.6 million hectares of at-risk forests have been deferred, how many already got logged in recent weeks and how many are at imminent risk of logging, unless deferrals come quickly. A rough review by Sierra Club BC shows that thousands of hectares that were proposed for deferrals already got logged and thousands more are on the chopping block for the coming months. The province declared that BC Timber Sales will stop auctioning at-risk forests but has not taken steps to stop big logging corporations from continued clearcutting of at-risk forests.
“The importance of last month’s provincial mapping, which showed the old-growth emergency and the areas that require immediate action, is undermined by the lack of a coherent action plan, particularly adequate funding,” said Jens Wieting, Sierra Club BC’s senior forest and climate campaigner. “The B.C. government has accepted that some types of old-growth forests are as imperilled as endangered whales, but they still haven’t stopped the industrial hunt.”
The escalating climate emergency shows the growing urgency to defend the lifesaving, irreplaceable benefits of intact old-growth forests before climate impacts like the current floods and the recent heat dome and wildfires create even more havoc.
“The old-growth discussion is dominated by overstating economic impacts of protection when we should be talking about the devastating losses caused by logging the last old-growth. From mitigating billion-dollar damages caused by climate impacts like landslides and floods, to storing huge amounts of carbon and preserving species habitat, drinking water, clean air and long-term jobs in a diverse economy – the benefits of protecting the last old-growth are immeasurable,” said Wieting.
Sierra Club BC’s recent expert report ‘Intact Forest, Safe Communities’ showed that clearcut logging of intact forests exacerbates climate impact risks like flooding, landslides, heatwaves and wildfires.
The inadequate roll-out of the provincial intention to protect at-risk old-growth forests stands in contrast to lessons learned through the conservation financing component of the Great Bear Rainforest Agreement. The 2006 announcement included $120 million to support Indigenous Nations in the region and enable protection of an additional 1.7 million hectares in new protected areas, with provincial and federal governments matching private funding.
Provincial leadership in protecting forests and reforming forestry is essential if Canada is to follow through with last month’s UN Climate Conference commitment to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030, as well as the previous commitment to increase protection to 30 percent by 2030. B.C. has so far protected about 15 percent.
Reviewing active and pending cut blocks shown in the provincial Forest Tenure Cut Blocks layer and comparing them with the proposed deferrals map, Sierra Club BC found more than 16,000 hectares with a ‘planned harvest’ date in 2021 and more than 6,000 hectares with a ‘planned harvest’ date in 2022 or beyond (some reserves that are retained within the blocks are not mapped yet, so the final number will be slightly lower).
‘Intact Forests, Safe Communities’ report on reducing community climate risks through forest protection and a paradigm shift in forest management: https://sierraclub.bc.ca/intact-forests-safe-communities-sierra-club-bc-report/
Data and maps provided by the Technical Advisory Panel on November 2, 2021: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/industry/forestry/managing-our-forest-resources/old-growth-forests/old-growth-maps
Jens Wieting, Senior Forest and Climate Campaigner | Sierra Club BC
firstname.lastname@example.org, (604) 354-5312
Photo: Mya Van Woudenberg/Sierra Club BC