Will the B.C. NDP step up to protect old-growth forests?
Re: Old-growth forest activists to appeal B.C. court injunction against blockades
The recent narrative playing out in the media is a familiar one: jobs vs. forests and a “war in the woods.”
And yet, no one is saying forestry jobs aren't important. No one wants the last giant cedar to fall.
What's also familiar is a B.C. NDP government once again struggling to implement the recommendations of another independent review of our old growth management.
The Old Growth Strategic Review “A New Future for our Forests,” was submitted to government one year ago in recognition of diminishing timber supplies, ecosystems at risk and the loss of biodiversity. The review provides a clear path toward a new type of forest management developed in collaboration with Indigenous governments. Its recommendations focus on ecosystem health while supporting workers and communities.
Roughly 20 years ago, I was very lucky to spend my summer exploring some of the finest stands of our west coast ancient forests as a marbled murrelet researcher. Around the same time, the B.C. government wrestled with implementing the recommendations of the 1992 Old Growth Strategy for B.C., which it never did in full.
Had the government done so then, it is likely history would not be repeating itself.
What's different now is that we don't have another 20 years to talk and log. B.C.'s ancient forests are now much smaller, more fragmented, and continue to be at risk of being harvested despite their heightened value as we face the twin crises of biodiversity loss and climate change.
The solution? Implement the review's recommendations and resolve these long-standing challenges for good. But these recommendations will take time to implement.
While we navigate another COVID-19 circuit breaker, the logging of our ancient forests needs one of its own.
The review calls for immediate action to “defer development in old forests where ecosystems are at very high and near-term risk of irreversible biodiversity loss.” This is our last chance to chart a new course for forest management in B.C. — there won't be a third opportunity to do so.
British Columbians are seeking leadership on this issue. The game plan is in place. Will the B.C. NDP rise to the challenge and implement the recommendations that conserve high productivity ancient forests? The outcomes are reformed forest management and a province that is more ecologically, socially, and economically resilient.
Jennifer Grant, Saanich