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Forestry Policy Paper Released Amid Calls for Old-growth Protection

The BC Government published a policy paper on Tuesday, June 1, 2021, outlining its intentions for the future of the province’s forest sector.

The government says there’s a need to balance biodiversity, the economic importance of access to fibre for forest-dependent communities, and calls by Indigenous communities for increased access to the forests.

The government policy statement proposes a timeline that covers the next two years for creating and implementing a new strategy for managing forests that includes a plan to redistribute tenures to Indigenous communities and small firms.

It says BC needs to derive greater value from timber harvested and the forest sector must better reflect local and Indigenous values, complement and encourage higher-value products, and creates jobs in local communities.

The government also plans to review the current fee-in-lieu of manufacture system that allows companies to export logs that don’t to mills.

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The NDP says it’s planning to implement the recommendations of the old-growth review panel by 2023.

Cowichan Valley MLA Sonia Furstenau, the leader of the B.C. Green party, and fellow MLA Adam Olsen are critical of the proposed plan, saying that to release it without “concrete actions to protect ancient forests” is a stalling tactic.

The Green party warns that the government will continue to delay, deflect and continue to “talk and log across BC.”

Olsen says BC will continue to lose irreplaceable ancient forests due to “broken promises and refusal to take meaningful action” with Premier Horgan now saying a new plant for old-growth management will not be implemented before 2023.

The Wilderness Committee says Tuesday’s policy plan announcement is another missed opportunity for the BC NDP to “keep its promise to protect at-risk old-growth forests and de-escalate the conflict around these forests.”

The committee says since the Horgan government received the Old-growth Strategic Review panel report last year, it has rubber-stamped an increase in old-growth logging approvals.

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It warns this has resulted in a public outcry and increased activism, including the longest-running blockade in the forests in almost three decades.

Wilderness Committee national campaign director Terrance Coste says people are furious, “to a degree I’ve never seen,” over how dire things are and consider ‘talk and log’ to be completely unacceptable.

Coste says not a single one of the 20 policy intentions announced is achievable without a social license, and without any immediate action on old-growth, the government will continue to lose that.

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