(Fairy Creek Yellow Cedar photo courtesy of Ancient Forest Alliance)

The BC government said it could defer logging in up to 2.6 million hectares of old-growth forest if title land owners and Indigenous leaders sign off on it.

Meanwhile, any new old-growth logging has been paused in forests owned by BC Timber Sales – the government’s logging agency.

The deferral, the government said, is part of recommendations of the old-growth technical advisory panel strategic review.

First Nations will need to indicate within the next 30 days whether or not they support the deferrals, require further engagement to incorporate local and Indigenous knowledge, or would prefer to discuss deferrals through existing treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements.

Funding of up to $12.69 million over three years is available to support this process.
When the deferral period ends, the newly identified at-risk forests will either be added to BC’s 3.5 million hectares of old-growth forests already off-limits to harvesting, or included within new forest management plans.

To support the deferral process, the government will immediately cease advertising and selling BC Timber Sales in the affected area and implement programs to bridge logging workers to other opportunities or education.

The news comes after Prime Minister Trudeau spoke at COP26 in Glasgow and said that his government is making the commitment to end deforestation by 2030.

Conservation activists have already come out to criticize the province.

“We’ve been calling on the government to be honest in its accounting of remaining old-growth forests for years, so it’s good to see them finally get behind the science,” said National Campaign Director Torrance Coste.

“But irreplaceable forests are still being clear-cut every day. The more than one thousand people arrested trying to protect old-growth since May proves the public wants to see these ecosystems set aside, not just mapped accurately.”

 

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