What’s really going on? Responding to the BC NDP’s old-growth forest messages.

Understanding forest policy and the complicated messaging from industry and government is hard to process and most people understandably don’t have the time for it. To help, we’ve created a summary of the five most important messages from the BC NDP and how to address them. You can use these in your response to NDP emails, in social media dialogues, or in conversations with your family and friends.

NDP Message #1:  “We are committed to implementing all 14 recommendations of the Old-Growth Strategic Review panel.”

Committing to these recommendations is a big first step. However, the 14 recommendations come with a three-year timeline and a schedule for immediate, near-to-midterm, and long-term implementation in order to ensure the last old-growth forests and their amazing biodiversity are not lost forever. The BC NDP is significantly behind the most critical stage: the immediate response to ecosystems at very high risk within the first six months. It’s been 15 months so far and this step is nowhere near completion. 

NDP Message #2:  “10 million hectares of old-growth forests in BC are already protected.”

This confuses an already convoluted situation. You might need to read this a few times to get it all straight; I know I did! Of about 57 million hectares of forests in BC, 13 million are considered old-growth – this includes mostly old growth that is not huge towering trees, but smaller trees, high elevation, or boggy areas. Of these 13 million hectares, about 6.6 million is considered uneconomical to harvest and 4.4 million is protected in some form. So when the government says “10 million hectares of old-growth is already protected” they make it seem like 10 of the remaining 13 million hectares of old-growth is protected when in reality, most does not have big trees like we imagine when we hear old growth, which is the most important for biodiversity, and that 10 million hectares contain forests that are either already protected or are not at risk of being logged anyways. 

What about the last 3 million hectares? Government mapping sources show the most at-risk old-growth forests (forests that have the potential to be logged) that require immediate deferral based on the criteria set by the Old-growth Strategic Review Panel, total about 1.3 million hectares, or just 2.2% of BC’s total forested area. And, only 415,000 hectares remain of the most productive old-growth forests (the biggest trees) which is less than 1% of the total forested area in BC. This is not a big ask for the government to immediately defer!

NDP Message #3:  “Our government protected almost 200,000 hectares of old-growth in September 2020.”

Horgan announced nine, two-year logging deferrals in BC totaling 353,000 hectares. Actual old- growth forest in these deferrals is 196,000 hectares. However: 

  • Much of this area is:
    • Already protected in some way, or
    • Not economical to be logged anyways, or
    • Does not include the biggest ancient trees! 
  • More than 150,000 of these hectares are either non-forest (rocky outcrops, swamps, cliffs, etc.) or second-growth forests, which according to a later government memo can still be logged.
  • A deferral of two years is not protection. Logging can start after the two years are up. 

In fact, of the best remaining old-growth (see the part about the 415,000 hectares mentioned in Message #2), only 3,800 hectares are included! 

NDP Message #4:  “We will not make decisions about forestry policy, nor make decisions on more deferrals, without meaningful consultation with First Nations.”

This is important, however: The Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) released a declaration on July 28, 2021. In their news release, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, UBCIC President, is quoted as saying “If this government is serious about protecting old-growth they must stop the chainsaws now to maintain all options and begin the process of working with First Nations on support for permanent protection. This opt-in strategy the government is currently pursuing for deferrals is too slow and is resulting in critical old growth being logged without the consent of First Nations. The government should instead pursue a province-wide deferral and an opt-in to permanent protection option for discussions with First Nations.” 

Additionally, the Old Growth Strategic Review panel recommended deferral of all at-risk old-growth within six months so we have time to have these difficult conversations before the last ancient tree is cut down.

NDP Message #5:  “We’re doing better than the previous government”

The BC NDP has been in power now for four years. They promised they would implement endangered species legislation and have failed to do that. They’re missing all of the key time frames recommended in the Old Growth Strategic Review panel’s recommendations. They’ve approved 43% more logging than in past years in areas containing old growth forests. This is not “doing better”. This is standard and they should act accountable.  

 

Analyzing government messaging takes a lot of time and we rely on donations from amazing supporters like you. [Even donating $5 to $10 to our conservation campaign] will help so we can continue to clarify complicated forestry policy for our supporters and help our communities defend the last remaining ancient trees. Will you make a small donation?