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B.C. looks to defer logging in old growth forests and consult with First Nations

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– Story by Brody Langager, Vista Radio staff

B.C. is aiming to defer logging for 2.6 million hectares of old-growth forest in the province after the Old Growth Strategic Review report was released.

The pause is temporary until better management is in place, and more consultation is done with First Nations communities.

The Province is requesting First Nations to indicate whether they support the deferral in the next 30 days.

If all areas that are deferred transition to protected forests after the consultations, the BC Government estimates that 4,500 jobs could be affected.

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“Forests are a part of who we are as British Columbians. We have a responsibility to ensure the benefits are shared, today and with future generations,” said Premier John Horgan.

“Following the recommendations of the Old Growth Strategic Review, we are taking steps to

fundamentally transform the way we manage our old-growth forests, lands, and resources.”

Data that was gathered in the report states that there are 11.1 million hectares of old-growth forest in BC, 7.6 million are currently unprotected.

The BC Government said 14 steps are being taken to better manage old-growth forests:

  • partnering with Indigenous Nations
  • More public data
  • deferral of old-growth at risk of loss
  • compliance with current standards
  • prioritize ecosystem health
  • more inclusive governance
  • framework for setting and managing targets
  • transition plans for local areas and the province
  • transition supports for communities

Some measures won’t take effect until 2023:

  • three-zone management
  • funds for monitoring and evaluation
  • updated biodiversity targets and guidance
  • better inventory and classification
  • more innovative practices

“We’re building a new vision for forest care to better share all the benefits of our forests

together, for generations and generations to come,” said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Forests.

“We are committed to working in partnership with First Nations to make sure we get this right and to supporting workers and communities as we develop a sustainable approach to managing BC’s old-growth forests.”

The deferral recommendations are based on whether forests are considered Big Tree Old Growth, Ancient Old Growth, or Rare Old Growth.

Of the 2.6 million hectares:

  • 1.7 million is Big Tree Old Growth (of the 4.1 million that is unprotected)
  • 0.4 million is Ancient Tree Growth, which is all of the currently unprotected area
  • 0.5 million is Rare Old Growth, which is all of the currently unprotected area

“Once temporary deferrals are in place for the most at-risk ecosystems, government can turn toward implementation of the remaining recommendations of the strategic review and developing a new path forward,” said Garry Merkel, co-author of the Old Growth Strategic Review.

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