B.C. government misleading public about old growth

PRESS RELEASE, FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, August 30 2022

B.C. government misleading public about old growth

Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs and Stand.earth renew calls on the provincial government to immediately stop logging in the most at-risk old growth forests in light of latest investigation findings

səl̓ílwətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh), xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), and Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) Territories (Vancouver, BC) — Stand.earth released an investigative report today that reveals the extent of the B.C. government’s inaction on old growth, which has allowed the ongoing destruction of some of the most ancient, rare old growth forests across the province – all in areas that it announced it intended to stop logging last November. The Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) and Stand.earth are renewing calls on the provincial government to act immediately to stop logging in the most at-risk old growth forests. 

Link to satellite images can be found here and are available for media use.

“No more talk, no more waiting around – the time to protect old growth is right now,” says Kukpi7 Judy Wilson, UBCIC Secretary-Treasurer. “The Province has continued to let logging of old growth happen, while publishing glossy images of old growth trees to spread the message that they are taking action. It is simply not enough – we are looking to the B.C. NDP to take immediate action, particularly under a new leader.”

Stand Research Group (SRG) conducted a new spatial analysis and found that over 55,000 hectares of proposed old growth deferrals face imminent risk of logging, and satellite imagery analysis reveals that some deferrals have already been destroyed – including to make way for pipelines – or are in the process of being clearcut. 

“Satellite imagery doesn’t lie,” says report author Angeline Robertson, Senior Research, Stand.earth Research Group. “If the intent of the province was to pause logging so that a meaningful review of old growth management can proceed, then this analysis shows that they have failed in the most important aspect  – getting the industry to stop logging the most at-risk old growth.”

This report shows that a small group of private forestry and oil and gas corporations comprise the majority of the extreme risk to proposed old growth deferrals – notably, Canfor, West Fraser, Sinclar Group, Interfor, Weyerhaeuser, and Western Forest Products. A significant amount of proposed old growth deferrals have already been destroyed, including to make way for pipelines. TransCanada, with its Prince Rupert Gas Transmission Line and Coastal Gaslink Project clearing tracks of old growth forests on their routes across the province, ranks fourth when it comes to immediate risk to proposed old growth deferral areas.

In June 2022, UBCIC Chiefs Council passed a resolution calling on the provincial government to immediately defer logging in all proposed old growth deferral areas, plus additional areas identified by First Nations, and to urgently move towards the paradigm shift and resilience planning as outlined in the Old Growth Strategic Review. The resolution also called for funding for First Nations and compliance with Free, Prior and Informed Consent, including to stop using strength of claims assessments in the deferrals process.

“Last year when the heat dome was at its worst, the province assured my Nation that there would be no activity in our forests. But when our community members witnessed loaded logging trucks coming down Spuzzum Main, we were told compliance was voluntary.” says Chief James Hobart, Spuzzum First Nation. “It’s clear that the provincial government places too much trust in these companies. With a leadership race underway, it begs the question: will the next Premier deliver on old growth promises or stand by and let industry have its way?”

Instead of heeding calls from scientists and advocates that logging deferrals are only meaningful when they stop planned logging, the provincial government has announced sweeping deferrals over millions of hectares of forest that were not at immediate risk of being destroyed. 

“While the B.C. government has been finding new ways to bend the numbers on logging deferrals, the most vulnerable old growth forests are being destroyed,” says Tegan Hansen, Forest Campaigner at Stand.earth. “The provincial government needs to stop patting itself on the back and refocus its energy to do everything possible to keep these old growth forests standing.”

UBCIC and Stand.earth are once again calling for the immediate implementation of logging deferrals across all areas identified by the old growth technical advisory panel, as well as concrete timelines and resource allocation for the promised paradigm-shift for that fully upholds First Nations’ Title and Rights, while centering ecological integrity. 

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Media contacts: 

Ziona Eyob, Stand.earth Media Director - Canada, [email protected], +1 604 757 7279 (Pacific Time)
Ellena Neel, UBCIC Communications Director - [email protected]

Background:

In November 2021, British Columbia finally released detailed maps showing 2.6 million hectares of old growth forests across the province that needed to be immediately set aside from logging, through a process known as deferrals. Keeping these rare big-treed, ancient, and remnant old growth forests standing was meant to be an urgent first step – initially given a timeline of six months from the release of the Old Growth Strategic Review in April 2020 – while the province undergoes a paradigm-shift in forest management, from a model that puts timber value above all else to one that fully upholds Indigenous Title and Rights and centres ecological integrity. 

A temporary ban on logging in the most rare, at-risk old growth forests was meant to be the most urgent and straightforward of 14 recommendations on old growth that the British Columbia government promised to implement in 2020. Two years into a three year timeline for all of those recommendations, not a single one of the 14 recommendations has been fulfilled and old growth continues to be destroyed at alarming rates.

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