FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 15, 2023
Interim measures needed as quickly as possible to prevent further industrial degradation of critical habitat
VANCOUVER/UNCEDED xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (MUSQUEAM), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (SQUAMISH) AND səlilwətaɬ (TSLEIL-WAUTUTH) TERRITORIES – The B.C. government has reached a preliminary milestone in developing a draft Biodiversity and Ecosystem Health framework released for public comment today.
The draft framework outlines the purpose, principles, and foundation to achieve the paradigm shift described in the 2020 Old Growth Strategic Review (OGSR); specifically, recommendation 2, which called for the conservation of ecosystem health and biodiversity of forests in B.C. to be declared an “overarching priority” and legislation that “legally establishes this priority for all sectors.”
This paradigm shift is needed because the existing patchwork of laws fails to protect species-at-risk habitats and at-risk ecosystems like old-growth forests from industrial destruction and degradation.
Sierra Club BC welcomes the draft framework but cautions that immediate interim measures are needed to stop the ongoing loss of at-risk habitat and ecosystems while work on legislation co-developed with First Nations continues.
“We are pleased that the draft framework reflects the B.C. government’s commitment to make biodiversity and ecosystem health a priority for all sectors through legislation. At-risk species and ecosystems are under constant pressure, and some are at the very brink of extinction. A paradigm shift in ecosystem management is critical for their protection and recovery and can’t happen soon enough,” said Shelley Luce, Campaigns Director at Sierra Club BC.
The draft framework highlights goals of achieving healthy ecosystems, advanced reconciliation, effective stewardship and resilient communities and economies. It also refers to interim measures that should be included in the implementation plan. However, interim measures are not yet tied to at-risk ecosystems and habitat, and there are no timelines for implementation in the draft framework.
Importantly, the draft highlights Ecosystem-based management (EBM), an approach to achieve ecological integrity and human well-being used in the Great Bear Rainforest region. EBM requires targets that ensure all ecosystems, including big-tree old-growth forests, are adequately protected in a representative manner.
“The draft framework combined with immediate interim measures holds promise to achieve change on the ground across the province in early 2024. From at-risk old growth to Caribou and Spotted Owl habitat, every month matters to safeguard the web of life and a stable climate for future generations,” said Jens Wieting, Senior Forest and Climate Campaigner at Sierra Club BC. “Timely implementation will be crucial to ensure new Forest Landscape Plans reflect biodiversity as an overarching priority and existing Forest Stewardship Plans can be amended as quickly as possible.”
People in B.C. have until January 15th, 2024, to provide input and commentary to strengthen the framework. Sierra Club BC will develop feedback and share input with the B.C. government to strengthen the draft framework and inform the implementation plan. We encourage people in B.C. to do the same.
An independent audit commissioned by the Wilderness Committee and Sierra Club BC in 2022 highlighted huge legal gaps driving species extinction and extirpation in B.C. The report, written by biologist Jared Hobbs, found that the federal species-at-risk law alone is not enough to protect species in B.C., as the current provincial legal framework for species-at-risk protection relies on a patchwork of laws that fail to address all threats driving species decline.
Jens Wieting, Senior Forest and Climate Campaigner/Science Advisor, Sierra Club BC
email@example.com or (604) 354-5312
Shelley Luce, Campaigns Director, Sierra Club BC
Featured image by Dayn Craig.