B.C. introducing measures for old growth, forest stewardship with Indigenous collaboration

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B.C. announces new plan to protect old growth forests
B.C. Premier David Eby announced Wednesday the province’s eight-point plan meant to protect more old growth, collaborate with First Nations, and promote innovation in the forestry industry. The plan includes $25 million for new Forest Landscape Planning tables and a doubling of the new BC Manufacturing Jobs Fund to $180 million while expanding eligibility provincewide – Feb 15, 2023

The B.C. government is implementing new measures that will work to protect old growth trees by “fast-tracking innovation and co-developing new local plans with First Nations,” it announced Wednesday.

The new eight-point, $25-million plan will focus on new Forest Landscape Planning (FLP) tables that will drive improvement within old growth management while incorporating local knowledge and community priorities, the government said.

“Our forests are foundational to B.C. In collaboration with First Nations and industry, we are accelerating our actions to protect our oldest and rarest forests,” said B.C. Premier David Eby. “At the same time, we will support innovation in the forestry sector so our forests can deliver good, family-supporting jobs for generations to come.”

Forest landscape plans were enabled in the 2021 amendments to the Forest and Range Practices Act. The plans are a “more comprehensive and inclusive approach to forest stewardship that will replace existing industry-developed plans,” the government said in a press release.

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The $25 million will go towards creating eight regional FLP tables that will work closely with 50 First Nations communities in its implementation.

“These tables will prevent harvesting in old-growth forests important for ecosystem health, biodiversity, clean water, carbon storage and Indigenous values,” B.C. Ministry of Forests staff said.

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“They will also provide greater certainty about the areas where sustainable harvesting can occur to support jobs and investment.”

The announcement also includes the province’s plans to up investments to support innovation within the forestry sector. Officials said the province will be doubling the BC Manufacturing Jobs Fund to $180 million which will expand access and eligibility.

“The BC Manufacturing Jobs Fund will, for example, support mills to process smaller-diameter trees and manufacture higher-value wood products, such as mass timber,” officials said.

“It will accelerate shovel-ready projects across the manufacturing ecosystem that will bring direct benefits and stable, family-supporting jobs to communities throughout the province.”

The Ministry of Forests also has a number of actions B.C. will be using the “accelerate implementation of the “Old Growth Strategic Review” plan for 2023:

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  • Developing and implementing alternatives to clear-cutting practices
  • Repealing outdated wording in the Forest and Range Practices Act regulations
  • Increasing Indigenous participation in co-developing changes to forest policy
  • Protecting more old-growth forests and biodiverse areas by leveraging hundreds of millions of dollars of philanthropic donations to fund conservation measures supported by the Province and First Nations
  • Enabling local communities and First Nations to finance old-growth protection by selling verified carbon offsets that represent long-term emission reductions
  • Completing the Old Growth Strategic Action Plan by the end of 2023

“The BC First Nations Forestry Council is looking forward to continue working with the province to modernize forest policy in B.C.,” said Leonard Joe, First Nations Forestry Council’s CEO.

“The forestry council will continue to support Nations in efforts to increase their role in the governance and stewardship of forest lands and resources. The province’s commitment to continue implementation of the Old Growth Strategic Review and to increase Forest Landscape Planning opportunities for First Nations are both vital to increasing the participation of First Nations in the forest sector as full partners.”

Since 2021, the province has been engaging with Indigenous communities about deferring harvest within old growth forests. Deferrals have been implemented on around 2.1 million hectares of old growth through this process, according to the government.

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