At-risk old-growth still unprotected, as RCMP clears path for logging companies on Vancouver Island
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 19, 2021
Unceded Coast Salish Territories (VANCOUVER, BC) — Independent researchers, forester Dave Daust and forest ecologists Dr. Rachel Holt and Dr. Karen Price, have taken the next step towards solutions for B.C.’s old-growth crisis and developed a provincial map showing the 1.3 million hectares of old-growth stands that are most at risk and in need of immediate deferrals from logging.
The B.C.-based experts used the criteria from the independent old-growth panel recommendations that the provincial government promised to implement last fall but has so far failed to enact. The suggested deferrals would give temporary protection to 2.6 percent of B.C.’s total forest area.
The map shows the last old-growth forests with big, tall trees; in addition, old-growth forest ecosystems that are now below an alarming threshold (less than 10 percent of their original extent), as well as particularly old or ‘ancient’ stands that are currently without protection.
This new map is being shared the same week that the RCMP has started to arrest forest defenders and clear a path for logging companies targeting at-risk old-growth forests in the Fairy Creek and Caycuse areas in the territories of Pacheedaht and Ditidaht Nations. Despite containing at-risk old-growth forests, large swaths of these areas remain open to logging over one year after the province received the recommendations calling for deferrals.
“Provincial inaction has forced the hand of Indigenous leadership to call for deferrals on all remaining old-growth lands. In a time of crisis, we are seeing old-growth percentages dropping by the day and we don’t have time to wait for the province any longer,” said hereditary Kwakwaka’wakw chief An’anxwisa’gamayi, Mak’wala, Rande Cook.
“This science-based map building on the provincial old-growth panel report is the crucial missing step to enable emergency interim protection for the most endangered at-risk forests. Using deferrals, the B.C. government can ensure sufficient time for a sincere process with Indigenous governments to identify what support is needed for communities and Nations that seek to protect the last old-growth forests instead of logging it for short-term relief,” said Jens Wieting, Sierra Club BC’s Forest and Climate Campaigner.
The B.C. government promised to fully implement the recommendations from the old-growth panel in October 2020. The panel’s top recommendations include more collaboration between provincial and Indigenous governments, deferrals for at-risk forests within six months, a transition plan to support forest-dependent communities, and a paradigm shift to safeguard biodiversity and the ecological integrity of all forests in B.C.
“I wouldn’t even call what the Horgan government is doing talk and log anymore. With the scientific consensus in place, they are now engaged in the politics of predatory delay. Deferrals are what make space for a safe conversation to cultivate public trust and free, prior and informed consent for the future of old-growth forests and biodiversity. Without indigenous consent and science-based deferrals all we’re left with is an outcome designed to please greedy logging corporations above all else,” said Mark Worthing, Sierra Club BC’s Coastal Projects Lead.
More than one year after the B.C. government received the recommendations, old-growth logging continues unabated, almost all at-risk old-growth forest remains without protection, and the provincial government has moved to increase the number of cutting permits compared to last year.
Additionally, the provincial government didn’t include funding to increase protection in the 2021 budget and there is no sign of a transition plan to support communities faced with the inevitable end of old-growth logging in coming years.
“This new expert map offers the B.C. government an opportunity to take the first step towards the promised paradigm-shift for ecological integrity for forests, and away from the abyss of ecological and cultural collapse,” added Wieting.
“Immediate deferrals for the most endangered old-growth forests would allow for government-to-government dialogue about the future of old-growth in B.C. without time pressure and the risk of losing more critical stands. It would also demonstrate that the province takes the public’s interest more seriously than short-term profit for logging corporations and deescalate the conflicts we are seeing on Southern Vancouver Island and elsewhere.”
Maps and backgrounder are available at: https://veridianecological.ca/old-growth-resilience/
Rande Cook, An’anxwisa’gamayi, Mak’wala
Randecook07@gmail.com, (250) 704-6777
Mark Worthing, Coastal Projects Lead | Sierra Club BC
firstname.lastname@example.org, (250) 889-3575
Jens Wieting, Senior Forest and Climate Campaigner | Sierra Club BC
email@example.com, (604) 354-5312
Photo by TJ Watt/Ancient Forest Alliance