Today’s news reveals that the BC government agrees with what expert scientists have been saying: BC’s old growth forests are at risk of disappearing forever. This news reflects a big shift in the BC government’s perspective and creates optimism for great opportunities for old growth forest protection and an overall paradigm shift in BC’s forestry policy. 

Minister Katrine Conroy of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development gave us a call yesterday and shared that the BC NDP is working to make the changes needed in forestry policy. We thank the Minister and her colleagues for taking this big first step.

However, the old growth forests identified by the government’s Technical Advisory Panel as critically endangered are still being logged. Here’s what we can all agree on: There are 2.6 million hectares of old growth forests that are critically endangered – if these forests are logged, rare habitats and this carbon storage will disappear forever. 

Here’s what happening on the ground from today’s announcement: 

The BC government will be temporarily pausing future logging plans in approximately 500,000 hectares which are managed by BC Timber Sales. This is approximately 20% of the 2.6 million hectares mentioned above. Conversations have just begun between BC government recognised First Nations on further deferral areas. Industry is continuing to log rare old growth forests across the province. 

Logging continues to happen in the majority of these critically endangered forests. It is like the government is finally acknowledging that an animal is at risk of being extinct and then continuing to allow the thing that is causing the animal to disappear.

There is still so much work to be done to protect the last remaining old growth in BC from disappearing forever. Today signals a long-term positive shift in BC’s forestry, but we need to keep the pressure up to conserve the last remaining old growth forest. 

Kendra Norwood is West Kootenay EcoSociety’s Conservation Program Director.