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B.C. government protecting nine areas of at risk and old-growth forest in logging policy shift

B.C. government protecting nine areas of at risk and old-growth forest in logging policy shift - image
THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

The British Columbia government is banning the logging of at risk and old-growth forests in nine different areas throughout the province.

The move followed the release of an independent old-growth forest review.

“For many years, there has been a patchwork approach to how old-growth forests are managed in our province, and this has caused a loss of biodiversity. We need to do better and find a path forward that preserves old-growth forests, while supporting forest workers,” Minister of Forests Doug Donaldson said.

“Those who are calling for the status quo to remain are risking crucial biodiversity loss, while those who are calling for immediate moratoriums on logging are ignoring the needs of tens of thousands of workers.”

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The protected areas account for almost 353,000 hectares of land.

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The review started in July 2019 and was conducted by Garry Merkel and Al Gorley.

Merkel and Gorley have suggested government follow a four-phase process to develop and implement an old-growth strategy.

The initial actions include engaging the full involvement of Indigenous leaders and organizations to review the report.

The report also recommends beginning work to address information gaps, update inventory and improve public access to information, and bring management of old forests into compliance with existing provincial targets and guidelines,

Industry, environmental groups, community-based organizations and local governments will also be part of discussions with government.

“Al and I appreciated engaging with people from all across the province in developing our recommendations,” Merkel said.

“We have provided our recommendations to the minister and look forward to government’s response. We are also pleased that the province has agreed that the first step in improving old-growth management is to adopt a government-to-government approach with full involvement of Indigenous leaders, governments and organizations in proposed changes.”

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Further work was also underway to protect up to 1,500 exceptionally large, individual trees under the Special Tree Protection Regulation.

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The Wilderness Committee celebrated the announcement and is called on the province to implement all fourteen of the report’s recommendations.

“Logging deferrals in hundreds of thousands of hectares of old-growth forests, especially in key areas like Clayoquot Sound, the “Donut Hole,” Incomappleux Valley and McKelvie Creek, is a good step forward on this campaign,” Wilderness Committee National Campaign Director Torrance Coste said.

“The report’s recognition of the need for a total paradigm shift in forestry is great to see and now it’s time for government to start making these changes.”

List of old-growth areas for immediate protection

  • Clayoquot Sound: 260,578 hectares.
  • Crystalline Creek: 9,595 hectares.
  • H’Kusam: 1,050 hectares.
  • Incomappleux Valley: 40,194 hectares.
  •  McKelvie Creek: 2,231 hectares. Intact valley of old-growth temperate rainforest and intact watershed providing rich wildlife and salmon habitat.
  • Seven Sisters: 4,510 hectares.
  • Skagit-Silver Daisy: 5,745 hectares.
  • Stockdale Creek: 11,515 hectares.
  • Upper Southgate River: 17,321 hectares.

 

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