Old-growth logging in the Caycuse region | Photo courtesy of the Anciet Forest Alliance
BC forest march: Tell Premier Horgan to implement Old-Growth Review Panel advice
About 100 people from Campbell River and Courtenay joined a province-wide
Forest March BC day of action on March 19 to call on Premier Horgan to honour his commitment to fully implement the recommendations of the Old Growth Review Panel.
The Review Panel found that since BC has allowed 97 percent of BC’s ancient forests to be logged, we are reaching a wide spread biodiversity crisis and we must make a fundamental change in the way we manage forests. The panel said it should be a prime mandate to protect ecosystems and to shift to sustainable second-growth forestry management with support for affected forestry workers.
Under the heading, “Immediate Response”, the Review Panel recommended that within six months, or “until a new strategy is implemented, defer development in old forests where ecosystems are at very high and near-term risk of irreversible biodiversity loss.”
But the six months have passed and BC Forestry Minister Conroy say the province has to keep logging Old Growth while the government puts management plans in place.
“It’s now or never” for old-growth forests
“But the whole point of the Panel’s recommendation to halt Old Growth logging was so there would be something left to protect under the new management plans,” Gillian Anderson told Decafnation. Anderson is the spokesperson for the Forest March organizing group.
The Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs has also called on the province to immediately defer logging in all threatened Old Growth forests and to implement all Panel recommendations.
But, despite these actions, the province has scheduled logging of Fairy Creek, the last unprotected watershed valley in southern Vancouver Island, and defenders who have endured months of winter on a blockade there now face possible arrest
The Review Panel also called for support for forest workers and Indigenous communities as they adapt from Old Growth logging to a sustainable second-growth forestry industry.
“The government is only just now working on these transition plans, yet John Horgan has had four years to put such recommended management plans into place after his pledge in 2017 to bring in sustainable forestry management,” Anderson said. “Instead he went on to log a million acres of old-growth forests even as BC lost six forestry jobs a day.”
Anderson added that Forest Minister Conroy’s much-vaunted ‘deferment’ of logging in 353,000 hectares turned out to be under closer scrutiny only 3800 hectares of actual at-risk Old Growth.
“Premier Horgan wants the credit for creating an Old Growth Review Panel and the credit for promising to abide by its recommendations – even as he continues to allow logging of the remnants of this once mighty ecosystem against the Panel’s specific and urgent recommendation,” she said.
Virtually none of the recommended funding has been dedicated for the transition to sustainable, second-growth forestry or for conservation set-asides.
Meanwhile, BC taxpayers continue to subsidize the forestry industry (cutting publicly owned trees including old growth) by $365 million annually, according to the Forest March BC Rally team. They say Old Growth forests are worth more standing than a one-time stumpage fee, as they support sustainable economic, cultural and recreational opportunities including fisheries, tourism, carbon offset projects and non-timber forest products.
Friday’s rally participants urged people to call the premier’s office to implement the Old Growth Review Panel recommendations for the immediate moratorium on Old Growth logging (250-387-1715 or firstname.lastname@example.org).
“With so little of B.C. iconic Ancient Forests left, it’s truly now or never,” Anderson said.
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