Report Card: More than half of the most endangered old-growth forests in B.C. remain at risk
Environmental organizations warn that time to implement B.C.’s old growth promises is running out, as B.C. NDP government continues to score failing grades; at-risk old growth stands equivalent to 3,600 Stanley Parks remain open to logging
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 16, 2023
VICTORIA / UNCEDED LEKWUNGEN TERRITORIES — Sierra Club BC, Stand.earth and the Wilderness Committee issued their fifth report card assessing the B.C. government’s progress on implementing the recommendations of the Old Growth Strategic Review (OGSR) today. The report card comes 2.5 years into the provincial government’s three-year timeline for implementing all 14 recommendations from the OGSR.
The environmental organizations give the province failing grades on key issues ranging from short-term action on funding for conservation, changing course in forest stewardship, and transparency. They are especially concerned about the lack of interim protection for the most at-risk old-growth forests, a step the OGSR panel recommended for implementation within the first six months of the three-year timeline. To date, more than half of the most at-risk old-growth forests remain open to logging (1.44 million hectares, equivalent to about 3,600 Stanley Parks).
“With just six months left in a three-year timeline, it’s astounding that the B.C. NDP is still earning such poor grades on its old growth pledge. Forests and communities need immediate, bold action now,” said Tegan Hansen, senior forest campaigner at Stand.earth. “Premier Eby still has an opportunity to live up to his promise and immediately correct course, but he has to act quickly – before these irreplaceable forests are destroyed forever.”
A lack of transparency and ongoing misinformation continues to reflect poorly on the B.C. government’s old growth pledge. In February, the province announced that logging had been deferred across 2.1 million hectares of old-growth forests, but omitted that this number leaves the majority of the most at-risk old growth open to logging.
“Forests in B.C. are in a state of ecological emergency. Like providing first aid to stop the bleeding, offering the support needed to set aside all of the remaining at-risk old growth stands remains the most urgent step on the path to a paradigm-shift in forest stewardship,” said Jens Wieting, senior forest and climate campaigner at Sierra Club BC. “Ongoing failure would be unforgivable and quash options for long-term solutions to support ecological integrity and the well-being of communities.”
In November, the province claimed that the annual old growth logging rate had fallen to a record low, but its own limited data showed that the annual amount of old growth logged was almost identical in the year before and after the province promised to protect old growth (151 soccer fields per day in 2019/2020 and 147 soccer fields per day in 2021).
“None of the recommendations of the OGSR being completed means the status quo logging of threatened ancient forests continues across most of B.C., jeopardizing the B.C. NDP’s stated goals on old growth, biodiversity, and climate change,” said Torrance Coste, national campaign director for the Wilderness Committee. “While Premier Eby and his government continue to take credit on these issues, the best remaining old-growth forests continue to be destroyed on their watch.”
The report card follows the United for Old Growth rally on Lekwungen territories in Victoria two weeks ago, where thousands marched in support of the United We Stand for Old Growth declaration signed by more than 220 groups from across B.C.
The OGSR report was released September 11, 2020 and makes detailed recommendations to keep at-risk old-growth forests standing and overhaul forest stewardship. The B.C. NDP pledged to implement the recommendations in their “totality” in 2020, and in fall 2022 Premier David Eby pledged to “accelerate action” on old growth within his first 100 days in office. However, with just six months remaining in its three-year timeline, the B.C. NDP government has so far completed none of the panel’s 14 recommendations.
In 2021, the province released the findings of its Old Growth Technical Advisory Panel (TAP), stating its intention to pause logging in 2.6 million hectares of the most at-risk old-growth forests and engage with First Nations to defer logging in these areas. But the province never allocated adequate funding to address the economic impacts of logging deferrals. A long expected conservation financing mechanism was recently announced, but no dollar figure has been committed. Hundreds of millions of dollars are needed to address barriers for First Nations under economic pressure, which make it difficult to support logging deferrals, as well as to fund Indigenous land use visions and conservation initiatives.
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.
View the full report card here
Photos of old growth and clearcuts
Photos of the old-growth rally
For more information, please contact:
Tegan Hansen, Senior Forest Campaigner, Stand.earth
Jens Wieting, Senior Forest and Climate Campaigner/Science Advisor, Sierra Club BC
604-354 5312, firstname.lastname@example.org
Torrance Coste, National Campaign Director, Wilderness Committee