Disappearing giants: Research reveals B.C.’s biggest trees will soon be gone forever, without immediate action to prevent it

June 4, 2020

New research conducted by a group of British Columbian scientists exposes the dire situation for forests in B.C.

Unceded Tsleil-Waututh, Squamish, and Musqueam Territories (VANCOUVER, B.C.) — Twenty years after the ‘War in the Woods,’ new scientific research has confirmed the majority of British Columbia’s productive old growth forests are gone, and the majority of the old growth remaining is slated to be logged. 

New research conducted by a group of British Columbian scientists exposes the dire situation for forests in B.C. Frustrated by misleading data and refusal to collate the proper information, scientists have now independently completed the analysis the B.C. government should have done, and the conclusions are stark.

The provincial government maintains that there are 13.2 million hectares of old growth in B.C., but fails to distinguish between forest types and productivity. In fact, the vast majority of these forests consist of small trees, such as subalpine and bog forests. 

According to new analysis based on provincial data, there are only about 400,000 hectares of old growth forests in British Columbia that support stands of large trees. That amounts to just 0.8 percent of the total forested area in B.C., and the majority of these old growth forests are on the chopping block.  

“It is a scandal that 20 years after the War in the Woods there is so little left of our old growth forests and that these old growth giants are being logged,” said Tzeporah Berman, International Program Director at Stand.Earth “This research shows that the B.C. government is aware of how little is left and that it is being logged and has been keeping this information from the public in part by using misleading data that obscures how little is left.

The last of these old, productive forests remain largely unprotected in B.C. Of the remaining old, productive forest ecosystems, more than 75 percent of what is still standing will be logged without policy change.  

“Almost every productive ecosystem across B.C. has very low levels of old forest remaining, and in many areas of B.C., this remaining productive old growth is at risk of being logged in the next five years,” said Dr. Rachel Holt, co-author of this report. “Current provincial policies are inadequate to protect old growth ecosystems, and without immediate change to both the policy and how it is implemented, B.C. is on a path to losing these irreplaceable forests forever.”

Despite broad public support to protect old growth and an ongoing review of old growth management, these endangered forests are still being logged, putting forest communities and biodiversity at increased risk.

“Old growth forests are not a renewable resource: once logged, they will not recover.” said Dr. Karen Price, co-author of the report. “The state of old growth forests in British Columbia puts biodiversity, ecosystem integrity, carbon storage and resilience at high risk — particularly important given climate change. We encourage the province to be brave: only an immediate moratorium on logging productive forests will maintain the values and services provided for free by these rare old growth ecosystems.”

Stand.earth is calling for an emergency moratorium on logging for the last stands of big, old trees and the most at-risk forest ecosystems in B.C. 

Photo credit: Jakob Dulisse. See more photos and video: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/9lu0wqqkoin0dzk/AAAXw_w_XNeQcHIxarov_Pvca?dl=0


Media contacts: 
Ziona Eyob, Canadian Communications Manager, canadamedia@stand.earth, +1 604 757 7279 (PST)
Dr. Rachel Holt, Co-author, “BC’s Old Growth Forest: A Last Stand For Biodiversity,” rachel@veridianecological.ca, +1 250 352 6932 (PST)
Dr. Karen Price, Co-author, “BC’s Old Growth Forest: A Last Stand For Biodiversity,” pricedau@telus.net (PST)
Tegan Hansen, Forest Campaigner, tegan@stand.earth, +1 250 354 3302 (PST) 
Interviews available in English and French