Stand.earth supports UBCIC resolution on old growth

Wednesday July 28, 2021

Majority of remaining at-risk old growth forests in B.C. remain open to logging

səl̓ílwətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh), xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), and Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) Territories (Vancouver, BC) —  Stand.earth fully supports the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) in calling on the provincial government for immediate action and meaningful engagement with First Nations to protect old growth forests.

Today, UBCIC released their resolution endorsing the Protect Our Elder Trees Declaration, which calls for an immediate halt to logging remaining at-risk old growth forests, ensuring Nations have the time and resources to make decisions for their lands.

In the statement, UBCIC draws attention to the ongoing wildfire crisis and the connection to protecting old growth forests:

“Recognizing that a colonial legacy of resource extraction and the violation of First Nations’ free, prior, and informed consent has critically endangered old growth forests and undermined Indigenous Title and Rights, UBCIC continues to fight for the changes needed to protect our disappearing giants,” reads the statement. “In the face of escalating aggressive wildfires that have led to a provincial state of emergency, by Resolution 2021-38, UBCIC has advanced and endorsed a critical guiding document – the Protect Our Elder Trees Declaration. Developed by First Nation chiefs and UBCIC members, this Declaration affirms support for the implementation of the Old Growth Strategic Review Panel’s recommendations and advances a First Nations approach to old growth management that is guided by ancestral laws, responsibilities, and upholding Title and Rights.”

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, UBCIC President, stated, "If this government is serious about protecting old growth they must stop the chainsaws now to maintain all options and begin the process of working with First Nations on support for permanent protection. This opt-in strategy the government is currently pursuing for deferrals is too slow and is resulting in critical old growth being logged without the consent of First Nations. The government should instead pursue a province-wide deferral and an opt-in permanent protection option for discussions with First Nations."

On April 30, 2020 an independent old growth review panel submitted their report and recommendations to the provincial government, which included specific timelines for immediate steps like full Indigenous involvement and reducing threats to at-risk forests. 

The old growth review panel called for immediate logging deferrals in remaining productive old growth forests, but despite giving the province a six-month timeline to put deferrals in place, the vast majority of these rare and at-risk old growth forests remain open to logging.

A new technical panel on old growth has recently been appointed to identify forests in B.C. requiring immediate logging deferrals, and includes leading scientists whose work has informed recommendations on old growth. Stand.earth urges the provincial government to act decisively to respect UBCIC’s resolution and the science, and immediately halt logging in remaining at-risk old growth forests.

“The government has committed to respect First Nations leadership on protecting old growth and this is their opportunity to deliver on that promise,” said Tzeporah Berman, International Program Director, Stand.Earth. “The Grand Chief could not have been clearer, the province needs to stop the chainsaws now and stop dragging their feet and hiding behind a dubious opt-in framework for deferrals. We need action now that stops the logging in what little old growth we have left and then a process to work with First Nations to opt-in to permanent protection.”   

Stand.earth and its supporters are calling on the B.C. government to fulfill its promise and implement immediate deferrals for remaining at-risk old growth.

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Media contacts: 

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