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Sierra Club BC and bear biologist praise the tabling of bear den protection bill
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
October 6, 2022
Sierra Club BC campaigner Jens Wieting and bear biologist Helen Davis react to the B.C. Legislative Assembly’s decision to move bear den protection bill forward to a second reading. The bill, tabled this morning by BC Green Party MLA Adam Olsen, proposes amendments to the B.C. Wildlife Act to include the protection of bear dens.
Statement by bear biologist and researcher, Helen Davis
“The tabling of this bill is a good step towards ensuring bear populations and forests remain healthy. The importance of large trees as protective homes for hibernating bears has been known for over 30 years and it’s time that there is legal protection of these structures because many have been lost from forest harvesting over the last century.
This proposed legislation must be brought forward for further debate. The legislation should be easy for the B.C. government to implement because impacts on the cut on public lands would be minimal. This is because bear dens can be set aside as part of retention areas that are already required under the Forest and Range Practices Act. The importance of placing this legislation in the Wildlife Act is that it will protect bear dens on private forest lands, which are often the most heavily impacted forests.
“Large old-growth trees and logs are critical habitat for winter den sites used by bears in coastal B.C. as well as many other areas of the province where they are available. These dens protect bears from the elements, especially rain in coastal B.C., as well as from predators. Cubs need dens because they are born small and helpless, they need to nurse for over 70 days in a secure environment while they grow and gain strength before venturing out into the world in the spring. We urge the B.C. government to bring this legislation forward for second reading because it will help ensure there is a supply of safe winter dens for bears which is essential to retaining sustainable bear populations.”
Statement by Sierra Club BC senior forest and climate campaigner Jens Wieting
“This is promising news for bears and forests around B.C. Currently, it’s still legal to log bear dens in most of the province. This much-needed bill aims to fix that.
“The B.C. government committed to a paradigm shift in forest stewardship to protect ecological integrity when it promised to implement all recommendations from the Old-Growth Strategic Review— this bill is an opportunity for the province to take an important step in this direction. Amending the B.C. Wildlife Act to include the safeguarding of bear dens would be a move towards creating a more respectful relationship with the forests and beings we share this province with.
“It is essential that these amendments become reality. There is overwhelming support for this bill, with thousands of British Columbians calling for the protection of denning sites. We urge the province to ensure that bears and the habitat on which they rely are legally protected.”
Photos for media use: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/13iNTdhQkgzb52uilESQwYb_q3DiJlipz?usp=sharing
Helen Davis | Registered Professional Biologist, Artemis Wildlife Consultants
(250) 208-4212 | email@example.com
Aurora Tejeida | Communications Co-lead, Sierra Club BC
(778) 223-3142 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo: Mya Van Woudenberg/SCBC
Members of the public will rally in support of the case on the Vancouver law courts steps prior to the hearing
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 4, 2022
VANCOUVER/UNCEDED xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (MUSQUEAM), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (SQUAMISH) AND səlilwətaɬ (TSLEIL-WAUTUTH) TERRITORIES – Sierra Club BC, represented by Ecojustice lawyers, is before the B.C. Supreme Court today, suing the B.C. government for failing to report on whether its climate plans will achieve several of the province’s key greenhouse gas emissions targets.
The province’s 2019 Climate Change Accountability Act requires the B.C. government to publish an annual accountability report that describes plans for continuing progress toward B.C.’s emissions targets. Sierra Club BC is arguing that this requires the government to be fully transparent and report without gaps about how far these plans will move B.C. towards reaching each of its emissions targets. If the plans only get us part of the way there, B.C.’s accountability report has to be clear in telling us that.
This information is critical for the public to hold the government accountable to develop climate plans that are adequate to meet all of the emissions targets it has set in law.
Under its climate accountability legislation, B.C. has province-wide emissions targets for 2025, 2030, 2040, and 2050 and targets in 2030 for four sectors of the economy: oil and gas, industry, transportation, and buildings and communities.
B.C.’s 2021 Climate Change Accountability Report failed to explain how far the government’s plans will move the province toward achieving its 2025, 2040 and 2050 targets, as well as the crucial oil and gas sector target in 2030.
The B.C. government is not complying with its own climate accountability legislation at a time when the province’s emissions are too high, and the climate emergency is having an increasingly direct and damaging impact on the lives of people in B.C. Recently, people living in B.C. have been battered by extreme weather events tied to climate change, with 2021 being particularly devastating.
In June 2021, a deadly “heat dome” led to a devastating wildfire that destroyed much of the community of Lytton and caused approximately 600 heat-related deaths across B.C. In November 2021, record-breaking rainfall and flooding destroyed critical infrastructure and threatened thousands of people’s livelihoods in the Fraser Valley.
The Climate Change Accountability Act was meant to improve transparency and accountability, but the government has failed to explain if the province is on track to meet most of its emissions targets. Without this information, the public will not know if B.C. is blowing past its emissions targets until it is too late.
Alan Andrews, Ecojustice climate program director, said:
“B.C. was a leader in setting emissions targets in law, but what’s the use of having these targets if we don’t know if B.C’s plans will actually achieve them?
“The public has the right to expect their government to follow the letter of the laws that they author. And if they don’t, they should expect the public to take them to court.”
Jens Wieting, Sierra Club BC senior forest and climate campaigner, said:
“Relentless, escalating climate disasters around the world are reminding us every day about the deadly consequences of missing our emissions targets. We need nothing short of full transparency to understand whether provincial climate plans are fit for the task at hand or not.
A collective last-ditch effort to stabilize our climate requires solid emission reduction pathways for every target and every sector on the path to 2050, as called for in provincial law. Leadership on climate requires acknowledging and tackling any gaps in our plans without further delay.”
- Like Canada, British Columbia has failed to meet emissions targets for over a decade. B.C.’s emissions have increased 15 per cent since 1990 (the first year for which BC has emissions data) and B.C.’s 2020 emissions are only one per cent below 2007 levels, the baseline year chosen by the province for its targets.
- The provincial Climate Change Accountability Act establishes several GHG emissions targets for B.C. out to 2050. The province-wide targets require emissions reductions of at least 16 per cent by 2025, 40 per cent by 2030, 60 per cent by 2040, and 80 per cent by 2050 (below 2007 levels). The oil and gas target requires a 33-38 per cent reduction by 2030 (below 2007 levels).
- Under this law, the B.C. Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy is required to publish an annual Climate Change Accountability Report, describing B.C.’s progress on reducing GHG emissions. The Report must include “plans to continue progress towards achieving” each of B.C.’s legislated emissions targets.
- The 2021 Accountability Report fails to explain how far B.C.’s climate plans – CleanBC and the Roadmap to 2030 – will move B.C. towards achieving four of its targets: the 2025, 2040, and 2050 targets and the 2030 target for the oil and gas sector. The Report provides this information for the 2030 target, showing that the province can provide such information.
- Despite the climate emergency, the B.C. government continues to support and subsidize the expansion of large fossil fuel projects – e.g. fracking operations in northeastern B.C. and the construction of the LNG Canada terminal in Kitimat. This project will drastically increase emissions when it starts operations in 2025, the same year B.C. emissions are supposed to be 16 percent lower than in 2007. LNG Canada and other proposed LNG terminals would almost certainly make it impossible to meet B.C.’s 2030, 2040 and 2050 targets.
Ecojustice uses the power of the law to defend nature, combat climate change, and fight for a healthy environment. Its strategic, public interest lawsuits and advocacy lead to precedent-setting court decisions and law and policy that deliver lasting solutions to Canada’s most urgent environmental problems. As Canada’s largest environmental law charity, Ecojustice operates offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa, and Halifax.
Sierra Club BC is an environmental non-profit working to support people stewarding abundant ecosystems and a stable climate, while building resilient, equitable communities. The organization strives to do this by upholding Indigenous rights and title, reconnecting children and youth with nature, supporting grassroots-led climate action, and advocating for old-growth protection.
Eric Wright, Communications Manager | Ecojustice
604-685-5618 ext. 525, email@example.com.
Jens Wieting, Senior Forest and Climate Campaigner | Sierra Club BC
firstname.lastname@example.org, (604) 354-5312
Environmental organizations call for immediate action to make the promised paradigm shift a reality as at-risk forests continue to be destroyed
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 8, 2022
VICTORIA / UNCEDED LEKWUNGEN TERRITORIES — Two years after the provincial government released the report of its Old-Growth Strategic Review (OGSR) panel, Ancient Forest Alliance, Sierra Club BC, Stand.earth and the Wilderness Committee have given B.C. failing grades for its progress to protect threatened old-growth forests. Grades for four of five key issues fell since the last report card, with time running out to address delays before it’s too late to safeguard remaining endangered old-growth forests.
The OGSR report, released Sept. 11, 2020, makes clear recommendations to keep at-risk old-growth forests standing and overhaul forest stewardship within three years. However, the B.C. NDP government has fallen far behind, so far completing none of the panel’s 14 recommendations two-thirds of the way through the three-year timeline laid out in the report.
“Two of the three years to implement the B.C. government promises on old-growth have passed. Yet, clearcutting of irreplaceable, endangered old-growth continues, even in the most-at-risk stands,” says Jens Wieting, Senior Forest and Climate Campaigner at Sierra Club BC. “Instead of changing course, we are still marching towards ecosystem and climate breakdown. The window for action is closing. The next premier of B.C. must act swiftly before it’s too late.”
Following the assessment of a second expert group, the Technical Advisory Panel (TAP) in 2021, last November, the province released mapping of five million hectares of unprotected, at-risk old-growth and stated its intention to temporarily defer logging for about half of that (2.6 million hectares) considered most at-risk in the short-term. The TAP scientists emphasized deferrals were needed, especially for areas where logging was already planned, which they expected to encompass about 50,000 hectares. In April 2022, Forest Minister Katrine Conroy announced that a little over one million hectares of these deferrals had been finalized — leaving more than half of the most at-risk old-growth forests open for logging — but was unclear about which deferrals would actually stop permitted logging. Ongoing monitoring via field assessments and satellite analysis show clearcutting continues in stands recommended for deferral. It’s resulting in the loss of tens of thousands of hectares of the most ecologically valuable forests.
“With one hand, the province is signing off on logging and road building in proposed old growth deferrals, and with the other it’s congratulating itself for saving the forests,” says Tegan Hansen, Senior Forest Campaigner at Stand.earth. “Deferrals are meaningful when they stop logging, not as a political talking point. We need to see this government live up to its promises and prevent the destruction of the most at-risk old-growth forests.”
The B.C. NDP government has stated it will not halt logging without agreement from First Nations, but has not offered adequate funding to address the economic impacts of foregoing logging for short-term deferrals, or for long-term protection. The organizations are urging the province to immediately provide full financial support to First Nations to ensure logging is deferred in all at-risk old-growth forests, as called for by the Union of BC Indian Chiefs in June.
“If the province is serious about protecting old-growth, they must come forward with at least $300 million in conservation financing for First Nations to address the economic impacts of accepting short-term logging deferrals and enacting long-term protection measures for old-growth, and leverage the federal funding available to expand protected areas in Canada,” states TJ Watt of the Ancient Forest Alliance. “Without that funding, which the province must be fully aware is critical for these efforts to succeed, progress will remain stalled and irreplaceable ancient forests will continue to fall.”
In their bi-annual report card, the four organizations gave the B.C. government a D for funding provided to date, and the same grade for the deferrals enacted so far. For transparency and communication on old-growth, the province received a D-. And for changing course to prioritize ecological health and providing a three-year timeline to implement the OGSR’s recommendations, the province earned failing grades.
Over the summer, the provincial government has remained tight-lipped about old-growth forests. In the meantime, images of logging in proposed deferral areas have garnered attention and public frustration with the ongoing destruction of irreplaceable forests in B.C.
“The recommendations of the OGSR are clear and measurable, and this government told the public it would act on them with urgency. What we’ve seen in the two years since is the opposite, a slow, plodding approach that’s not at all indicative of a paradigm shift,” says Torrance Coste, National Campaign Director for the Wilderness Committee. “Ultimately, the score that matters is the one kept in the forests themselves. And the fields of fresh clearcuts in endangered old-growth underscore the NDP government’s failure to protect the most threatened forests.”
Ancient Forest Alliance, Sierra Club BC, Stand.earth, and the Wilderness Committee will continue to mobilize the public, document ongoing old-growth logging and partner with First Nations, community groups, municipalities, unions and businesses to advance meaningful protection for threatened old-growth forests and a paradigm shift that puts ecological integrity and the wellbeing of communities over short-term timber values.
For more information, please contact:
Torrance Coste, National Campaign Director, Wilderness Committee
Tegan Hansen, Senior Forest Campaigner, Stand.earth
Jens Wieting, Senior Forest and Climate Campaigner/Science Advisor, Sierra Club BC
604-354 5312, email@example.com
TJ Watt, Campaigner and Photographer, Ancient Forest Alliance