Vancouver Sun

Will the B.C. NDP step up to protect old-growth forests?

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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

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