The BC Green Party is pleased with Wednesday’s announcement of a two-year deferral of old-growth logging in the Fairy Creek watershed and central Walbran Valley.

Premier John Horgan released a statement saying the move is consistent with the government’s “commitments to reconciliation and to protecting old-growth forests,” which he says are top priorities for the government.

According to Horgan, “the first step in protecting old-growth must be respecting Indigenous peoples’ land-management rights in their territories.

Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau, the MLA for Cowichan Valley, says it’s encouraging to see the province agree to defer logging in the areas proposed by the three Nations.

However, she says people need to “recognize that they are ignoring First Nations across B.C. who have been calling for deferrals and protection of old-growth in their territories.”

Furstenau says the Horgan government has a “tendency to spin numbers and mislead British Columbians when it comes to protecting old-growth” and it has a long way to go to rebuild trust on the issue.

The Ditidaht, Pacheedaht and Huu-ay-aht Nations are welcoming the Government’s approval of their request to defer old-growth harvesting in the Central Walbran and Fairy Creek watersheds for a period of two years.

The three Nations say they will work with the Government and the licensees “to monitor all forestry activity outside of the deferral areas to ensure that continuing forest activity does not impact the old-growth timber within the Central Walbran and Fairy Creek.”

The Ditidaht, Pacheedaht and Huu-ay-aht Nations say they are committed to a formal Integrated Resource Management planning process to determine how best to manage their resources.

They add: “while this essential work is being carried out, we expect everyone to allow forestry operations approved by our Nations and the Government of British Columbia in other parts of our territories to continue without interruption.”

The Rainforest Flying Squad, which established the first of several logging road blockades to prevent the logging of old-growth forests in the area on August 11, 2020, says it will remain in the Fairy Creek area.

Saul Arbess of the Rainforest Flying Squad calls yesterday’s announcement is a “welcome change” as the province responds to the First Nations and gives them the time to develop a plan that works for them.

However, Arbess says the government’s deferral announcement “falls short of the deferrals required to pause logging in all of the critically endangered areas” that his group is trying to defend.

The Rainforest Flying Squad says logging could still go ahead in old-growth forest directly adjacent to Fairy Creek, and in parts of the Central Walbran not included in the deferral.

The group says protesters will remain in place and consult with Pacheedaht Elder Bill Jones on the next steps.