The B.C. Government Needs to Step Up for Old Growth
September 11th marked the 2nd anniversary of the British Columbia government’s release of the report of its Old-Growth Strategic Review (OGSR) panel, “A New Future for Old Forests”. The report recommended immediate action to stop logging of the most at-risk old growth forests in B.C. It called for a major shift in B.C. forestry practices “to conserve long-term ecosystem health by maintaining forest biodiversity”. It called for the full involvement of First Nations communities, the inherent rights and title holders of this land. It called for public reporting that is “vetted, trustworthy, accurate and shared,” and included a three year framework.
In light of overwhelming support for old growth forest protection, the NDP government made clear 2020 election promises to implement all 14 recommendations of the OGSR report. However, two years later, the NDP’s response has been poor. Our main critiques are as follows:
- While we are in a Code Red global climate crisis, this is a dangerous failure. Healthy forests are essential to maintaining safe, sustainable communities, critical water ecosystems, environmental biodiversity, salmon habitat and so much more. With more extreme weather, wildfires and flooding, the failure to protect vital forest ecosystems is already life threatening and has decimated some communities in B.C.
- The government earned a record $1.8 billion in stumpage fees in 2021, but has not provided sufficient funding to First Nations to support immediate deferrals, long term solutions, and their transition to sustainable second growth forestry.
- Without on-the-ground measures, the talk-and-log status quo continues, and thousands of hectares of at-risk forests continue to be logged across the province. More than three million hectares of at-risk forest remain vulnerable to logging, and ancient giants are felled daily.
- Despite only one year remaining on the OGSR framework, the government has not established an implementation plan with clear measurable objectives, timelines, accountability, and steps for well-resourced enforcement and evaluation. Limited reports to the public continue to be variable, biased, often inaccurate.
- Since the release of the OGSR, well over 1100 people have been arrested, while peacefully defending old-growth forests in multiple parts of B.C., demonstrating the widespread frustration with the NDP government and its failure to keep its promises on this vital issue. Urgently needed is a just transition for Indigenous nations and forest-dependent communities that protects these carbon-rich ancient forests and their critical role in ensuring a livable future for all. 1 Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives -BC 2 Old Growth Strategic Review Summary, p. 17.
Based on the Union of BC Indian Chiefs Resolution 2022-32, and supported by independent reporting, the scientific data on old growth, and the urgency of the climate crisis, we demand that the BC NDP government :
- Immediately halt logging in at risk old growth forests and additional areas suggested by First Nations
- Provide fulsome and immediate financial support for First Nations to implement logging deferrals and resilience planning on their unceded territories, including Indigenous conservation strategies and compensation for any lost revenues and employment as a result of deferrals
- Pursue full protection as the goal for all deferral areas, and invest to make protection the best economic option
- Fulfill its election promise to implement all 14 recommendations of the OGSR panel by September 2023, within the 3-year timeline which government promised and provide regular progress reports
- Urgently move toward the paradigm shift and resilience planning outlined in the OGSR recommendations, prioritizing ecosystem integrity and biodiversity as the highest priority of forest management and as essential in the climate crisis
- Implement a just transition for all communities while moving toward a sustainable, second-growth forestry
- Provide: regular and detailed updates on deferrals and long-term solutions to safeguard and restore at-risk old growth; communications on all forest stewardship related decision-making; and reports on timelines and progress to ensure transparency and accountability for all OGSR recommendations
- Ensure forestry related decisions are fully compliant with free, prior, and informed consent and uphold the Title and Rights of First Nations pursuant to the government’s responsibilities under the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
- Acknowledge the role of intact forests and sustainable forest practices in both limiting and mitigating climate change, and incorporate increased conservation targets into the CleanBC climate plan.
Today, and every day, we stand together in an unprecedented show of unity amongst working people, Indigenous land stewards and knowledge-keepers, activists, scientists, youth, educators, communities, celebrities, environmental and social justice groups, faith organizations and more. Standing united against the destruction of old growth forests. Standing strong for future generations. On Saturday, February 25th, the United For Old Growth coalition is bringing a broad-based mass mobilization to the B.C. Legislature that reflects the majority of public will in B.C. for progressive solutions to the crisis in the woods.
6 Actions We Can Take for Old Growth Forests
- Support Indigenous-led protection camps and actions on the ground.
- Organize local solidarity actions.
- Call / send email to the Premier, Ministers, and local MLAs:
- Premier David Eby / 250-387-1715 / firstname.lastname@example.org
- Forest Minister Bruce Ralston / 250-387-6240 / email@example.com
- Environment Minister George Heyman / 250-387-1187 / firstname.lastname@example.org
- Stewardship Minister Nathan Cullen / 250-953-0900 / email@example.com
- Climate Readiness Minster Bowinn Ma / 250-387-3655 / bowinn.ma.MLA@leg.bc.ca
- Low Carbon Innovation Minister & Mid Island Pacific Rim MLA Josie Osborne / 250-720-4515 / firstname.lastname@example.org
- Sign the bcgreens.ca and change.org petitions – search “Old Growth”.
- Amplify by sharing and resharing educational content in social media networks.
- Donate to Protect Ada’itsx, FOCS, and groups working to protect old growth forests.