A months-long campaign of civil disobedience that has disrupted major highways around southwestern British Columbia is coming to an end.
Environmental group Save Old Growth said Wednesday it will “de-escalate disruptive actions on critical transportation infrastructure.”
The group has been calling for the immediate end to all old-growth logging in the province.
Since January, protesters with the group have staged a series of sit-ins on major highways and bridges in the Lower Mainland and southern Vancouver Island.
Those actions have resulted in numerous arrests, while some have devolved into confrontations with angry motorists. At one blockade in June, a protester was injured after falling from a ladder placed on the Patricia Bay Highway.
“Major traffic disruptions will end today,” the group said in a media release.
“Other strategies will be used that won’t stop traffic. We continue to request the Government take urgent steps to permanently protect BC’s remaining old growth forests.”
Organizers say they will shift tactics towards public outreach and events.
B.C.’s remaining stock of old-growth forest is disputed by environmentalists and industry, and hinges in part on definitions.
According to the provincial government, there are about 13.2 million hectares of old growth in B.C., of which about 3.3 million hectares are not protected and economical to actually harvest.
A panel of independent scientists produced its own report in 2020 that found that of the 13.2 million remaining hectares, just three per cent, or about 380,000 hectares, is actually capable of supporting the large trees most people consider “old growth.”
In 2021, the B.C. Council of Forest Industries commissioned its own study, which found of 11.4 million hectares of old-growth forest in B.C., 75 per cent was protected. That report concluded about 3.34 million hectares of old growth (29 per cent) were growing on sites capable of producing large trees.