Federal leaders promise action to protect B.C. old growth

August 21, 2021

Today’s Liberal Party election commitment comes as forest defenders in B.C. face escalating arrests, police violence

UPDATED: AUGUST 25, 2021. On Monday, August 23, the NDP pledged $500 million in funding to support Indigenous-led protection, including old growth. On Tuesday, August 24, the Green Party leader spoke in support of forest defenders and old-growth forest protection.

səl̓ílwətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh), xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), and Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) Territories (Vancouver, BC) — Today, the Liberal Party of Canada announced a campaign promise on old growth forests in British Columbia, pledging a new nature agreement for old growth and $50 million in funding to support permanent protect of old growth forests.

Stand.earth is calling on all political parties, leaders, and candidates in the federal election to commit to concrete action to protect old growth forests, and to publicly condemn arrests and police violence against forest defenders.

“It is very encouraging to hear Minister Wilkinson and the Liberal Party’s commitment to support permanent protection of old growth forests in British Columbia, and commit to establishing a $50 million B.C. Old Growth Nature Fund,” said Tzeporah Berman, International Programs Director at Stand.earth. “Old growth forests are important to people all across Canada and are an essential part of any effective national climate plan, yet even today people are being arrested for trying to stop the clearcut logging of some of the last of the province’s old growth. It will be interesting to see if other candidates also step up to recognize the extreme urgency of this issue.”

The announcement comes amidst ongoing old growth logging blockades in the province, including at Ada’itsx (Fairy Creek) on Pacheedaht and Ditidaht territories (Vancouver Island), as well as near Revelstoke on Sinixt, Ktunaxa, Secwepemc, and Syilx territories. At Ada’itsx, the last week has seen reports of escalating police violence and arrests of old growth forest defenders. RCMP have now made over 700 arrests since enforcement began earlier this year.

“Remaining old growth forests are in critical need of protection and the response to date from both provincial and federal governments has been inadequate,” said Berman. “The next step is for the Horgan government to put in place immediate logging deferrals on remaining at-risk, rare, and carbon-rich old growth forests across the province and work with First Nations to ensure permanent protection.”

Last fall, the B.C. NDP ran on an election promise to implement all 14 recommendations of an old growth expert panel, including immediate logging bans in remaining at-risk old growth forests. To date, the majority of those forests are open to logging. The Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) recently passed a resolution endorsing the Protect Our Elder Trees Declaration, calling for an immediate halt to old growth logging and for the province to meaningfully engage First Nations to protect old growth forests. A Stand.earth petition delivered to the B.C. Legislature this month contained over 150,000 signatures calling for an end to old growth logging from residents in B.C. and across Canada, demonstrating the widespread support for old growth forest protection.