Premier Horgan’s old growth forest announcement disappoints B.C.

Tuesday June 01, 2021

Despite a campaign promise to stop logging at-risk old growth forests, giant trees continue to fall on Premier Horgan’s watch

səl̓ílwətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh), xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), and Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) Territories (Vancouver, BC) —  During today’s announcement of a new intentions paper on forestry in B.C., Premier Horgan and Minister Conroy continued to stall the implementation of logging deferrals in at-risk old growth. Despite sharply rising tensions and mounting arrests on Ditidaht and Pacheedaht territories, the Premier and Minister continued to spread misinformation about their lack of action for old growth forests.

“People across B.C. were hoping to see leadership from this provincial government on old growth, but the Premier has completely disappointed them today,” said Tzeporah Berman, International Program Director at Stand.earth. “As the Premier spoke, ancient trees were falling and people were being arrested to defend old growth forests at Fairy Creek -- how much longer will it take for this government to fulfill its promise to defer logging these irreplaceable old growth forests?”

April 30 marked one year since the province received a landmark report and series of recommendations for old growth management reform, which brings attention to the serious threat to old growth forests in B.C., and the need for immediate logging deferrals. Premier Horgan and the B.C. NDP promised to implement all recommendations during the fall election, and reiterated that commitment today.

The panel highlighted the risk of “irreversible biodiversity loss” in forest ecosystems, recommending that the province take action to defer logging in at-risk old growth forests within six months. Last month, a group of independent BC scientists mapped the expert criteria for immediate logging deferrals, identifying about 1.3 million hectares of old growth across the province in need of urgent logging bans. The same group of scientists previously exposed that just 3,800 hectares of 353,000 hectares of deferrals announced in September were at-risk old growth forests that met the panel’s criteria.

Despite these promises, the majority of at-risk old growth forests in BC remain open to logging, including vulnerable, biodiverse areas, like Fairy Creek and Caycuse on unceded Pacheedaht and Ditidaht territories. 

“British Columbia is in the global spotlight and not in a good way,” said Berman. “If we want this government to take notice, we must continue to mobilize our communities in every part of the province. We urge everyone in B.C. to take action to raise the stakes on elected officials until Premier Horgan and his government fulfill their promise.” 

Immediate logging deferrals in areas of high ecological risk are critical to create space to fully involve Indigenous Nations and peoples over the development and implementation of any associated policy or strategy for forests on their territories. The government’s commitment to involve Indigenous peoples in decision-making processes around old growth is imperative; despite logging permits being issued in old growth areas that fall within Indigenous territories, Indigenous peoples have historically been largely excluded from high-level plans and orders that guide old forest management. The B.C. NDP government has so far failed to deliver on necessary funding to meaningfully engage First Nations and support communities in a transition away from old growth logging. 

Stand.earth is demanding that the provincial government immediately defer logging in at-risk old growth forests across B.C. in order to make space for full engagement with Indigenous Nations, and to establish immediate, transparent, and accessible funding pathways for Indigenous-led revenue and economic diversification planning, as well as conservation planning.

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Media contacts: 

Ziona Eyob, Canadian Communications Manager, canmedia@stand.earth, +1 604 757 7279 (Pacific Time)