statement on April 1 old growth deferrals announcement

April 5, 2022

This announcement comes after months of sustained pressure from hundreds of thousands of residents of B.C. and beyond to protect these last standing giants.

On Friday, April 1 the British Columbia government announced that logging has been deferred in about 1.7 million hectares of old growth forest, including just over 1 million hectares of what it has identified as the most at-risk old growth forests. In November of last year, the province released the findings of an expert old growth technical advisory panel, which identified 2.6 million hectares of at-risk old growth forests as candidates for immediate logging deferrals – which are temporary bans on harvest – based on the threat of irreversible biodiversity loss should they be logged. This announcement comes after sustained pressure from hundreds of thousands of residents of B.C. and beyond to protect these last standing giants and the largest act of civil disobedience in the province’s history last summer at Ada’itsx (Fairy Creek). welcomes any progress toward protecting vital old growth forests, but we are calling for the full 2.6 million hectares of priority at-risk old growth to be immediately put off limits to logging as a first step to a broader paradigm-shift in forest management. Additionally, we are  asking the province to immediately release complete maps showing all recently announced logging deferrals, as well as anywhere that candidate old growth deferrals remain unprotected and are imminently at risk of logging, and where these forests have been logged already. 

Without transparency from the province, it is impossible to know if recently announced deferrals actually stopped logging in the most rare, at-risk old growth forests, or if they were largely placed over areas where there were no imminent plans to harvest. The B.C. government’s Old Growth Technical Advisory Panel has mapped deferral areas across multiple categories, including ancient, remnant, and big-treed old growth forest. Big-treed old growth is naturally rare and is targeted by logging companies due to high timber values, and right now we cannot say whether this big-treed old growth has been deferred or is still on the chopping block. The vast majority of people in B.C. want to see old growth forests protected, and with an issue of such public importance, we call on the province to honour its promises and to ensure a fully transparent process.

Yesterday’s newest IPCC report confirmed that old growth forests are worth more standing. Big-treed, ancient forests in B.C. are among the most carbon-rich on the planet. With only a few years left to start dramatically reducing carbon emissions in order to avert climate catastrophe, protecting standing forests is one of the most significant things we can do in B.C. to contribute to fighting climate change.

We congratulate the Tsq’escenemc/Canim Lake First Nation for their work to defer old growth logging, and we commend the leadership of First Nations around B.C. who are advancing land use visions and protection on their territories. Every forest in the province is on Indigenous lands, but the provincial government and multinational companies have disproportionately profited from logging over many decades – we are long overdue for a paradigm shift in forest management that respects Indigenous Title and rights, restores control and stewardship to First Nations, and prioritizes community and ecological values over profits. Logging deferrals are one of 14 recommendations that the province committed to in 2020 to undertake that paradigm-shift. Temporary bans on logging in the most at-risk forests are required so that the process can move forward in good faith without permanently losing irreplaceable old growth.