B.C. government continues to mislead public on old growth with recent announcement

November 4, 2022
UBCIC and Stand.earth call on Premier Designate Eby to chart a new path forward

səl̓ílwətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh), xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), and Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) Territories (Vancouver, BC) — This week, British Columbia released yet another empty announcement on old growth. In the wake of another year of catastrophic events made worse by destructive logging practices, the B.C. government’s continued misinformation on old growth is not only disgraceful and deceptive – it has deadly consequences for our communities.

Read our latest analysis from Stand Research Group, “TALL TALK: Corporate loggers rush to cut old growth while province stalls on protection”

Fact-checking B.C.’s recent old growth announcement:

  • B.C.’s claim: Old growth logging has declined to record lows, which government framed in the context of implementing the Old Growth Strategic Review. 1
  • Fact: There is less old growth in B.C. than ever and the amount is decreasing steadily because of ongoing logging. Government claims that old growth logging is at “record lows” is an unsurprising admission – after decades of industrial-scale harvesting, there is simply less old growth valuable enough to log. Industry targets the most valuable, big-treed old growth – which is also immensely valuable for biodiversity, cultural uses, and climate change mitigation. Those forests were always rare, and now there is just a tiny fraction left across the province.
  • B.C.’s claim: Less than one percent of forests identified by the Old Growth Technical Advisory Panel were logged in the last year.
  • Fact: Many of the most at-risk old growth forests that were supposed to be off limits to logging have recently been destroyed, are being logged now, or are about to be. Recent satellite analysis from Stand.earth Research Group shows logging and road building in proposed deferral areas, including to make way for pipelines. Partners and allies continue to document clearcutting in proposed old growth deferrals. The province’s claim that logging has only occurred in a small percentage of unprotected old growth forests simply confirms that status quo logging is continuing – when scientists identified 2.6 million hectares of at-risk old growth, they expected about 50,000 hectares to overlap planned logging. The province has refused to share updated, precise details about where they have allowed logging to continue, but we know thousands of hectares have already been destroyed while B.C. has stalled, and new logging permits continue to be submitted.
  • B.C.’s claim: Minister Katrine Conroy says her government is “on the right track”
  • Fact: B.C. is far behind schedule on all old growth promises. The province’s announcement referenced information that was out of place and irrelevant to its failure to stop logging in the most at-risk old growth forests and make significant progress on its overarching old growth promises. Emergency logging bans were the bare minimum first step that were supposed to be implemented within 6 months by the government’s own Old Growth Strategic Review submitted back in April, 2020. More than two years into a three year timeline to implement 14 recommendations from the Old Growth Strategic Review, none of the recommendations have been fulfilled.

This announcement came just a week after Premier-Designate David Eby made a pledge to accelerate action on old growth, a promise that we welcomed. In order to deliver on his promise, Premier-Designate David Eby must:

  • Immediately implement all proposed logging deferrals including the full area mapped by the Old Growth Technical Advisory Panel, especially where logging and road building is continuing, as well as additional areas that meet the criteria for at-risk old growth and any areas identified by First Nations.
  • Provide full and urgent financial support to First Nations to ensure deferrals are economically viable, including compensation for revenue-sharing agreements and employment, and work with the federal government to secure a substantial increase in funding to support Indigenous-led land use planning and protection.
  • Ensure fully accessible and transparent information about forests and logging – including by releasing updated maps and data showing where recent, ongoing and planned logging overlaps with at-risk old growth – and full compliance with Free, Prior and Informed Consent and the rights of Title holders.

After successive years of these misleading announcements, it is clear that renewed action is needed from B.C. to rebuild trust and make progress on its old growth promises. Premier-Designate David Eby’s recent pledge to accelerate action on old growth is encouraging, but he must take immediate steps after his swearing in to deliver on this promise. 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 any additional areas identified by First Nations, and urgent resource allocation for the promised paradigm-shift for that fully upholds First Nations Title and Rights.

### Media contact:

Tegan Hansen, Stand.earth Senior Forest Campaigner, +1 (250) 354-3302