Friday, July 19, 2024

Environmentalists say BC should focus on ‘paradigm shift’ when it comes to old-growth

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This week, the BC government provided an update on their actions to better protect old-growth forests within the province, however some environmental activists say their actions have fallen short. 

In 2020, an independent review of BC’s old forests was conducted by an independent panel titled, A New Future for Old Forests, who offered the Province 14 official recommendations. 

These recommendations provided the next steps the government could take to do right by the old growth groves that remain standing, yet oftentimes unprotected.

BC says their key progress to protect old-growth includes:

  • Establishing the $1 billion Nature Agreement to provide better conservation
  • Making more local jobs for workers within forestry communities
  • Improving mapping, data and knowledge sharing

The Province added nine Forest Landscape Plans (FLPs) which aim to let local values drive the decisions.

BC says the idea is that FLPs are developed in partnership with First Nations, and through engagement as well as local knowledge and values, they can help manage entire ecosystems.

Following this update, some environmental advocacy groups spoke up regarding the progress thus far.  

Sierra Club BC said that this latest update did not contain the “critical actions needed to implement a paradigm shift in forest stewardship in the near future.”

In addition to this, the organization is critical of the Province delaying the finalization of their Ecosystem Health (BEH) Framework from 2024 to 2025.

Sierra Club BC says that the province needs better outlined ecosystem-based targets to protect old-growth and easy-to-access funding for First Nations who have lost revenue to this endeavour. 


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“We appreciate the ongoing commitment by the BC government to work with First Nations to implement the recommendations of the 2020 Old-Growth Strategic Review,” said Jens Wieting, Sierra Club BC’s Senior Policy and Science Advisor.

“However, without ambitious timelines and milestones, the newly-released update does not guarantee the necessary forestry reforms nor timely interim and long-term protection of at-risk old-growth.” 

In terms of the BEH framework, Sierra Club says the year delay will cause there to be no short-term conservation mechanisms to prevent further losses of at-risk habitats and ecosystems before 2025.

“What’s needed now is leadership at every level of government and in every ministry to protect irreplaceable old-growth forests before we lose any more,” said Shelly Luce, Director of Campaigns at Sierra Club BC. 

“The Old-Growth Update and a final BEH Framework could help meet the 30 by 30 commitment, which will result in a doubling of protected areas on public lands. Meaningful action plans would move us beyond talking, to deliver on existing commitments and create change on the ground.” 

According to Sierra Club BC, they would like to see the following benchmarks addressed in the updates to follow this latest one:

  • Detailed support steps and timelines to enable deferrals for all the most at-risk old growth (about half are still open to logging)
  • Implementation of Ecosystem-based Management (as highlighted in the draft BEH framework) resulting in consistent old-growth targets
  • Linking old growth action to the Nature Agreement and outlining how old growth protection will contribute to the goal to protect 30 percent of the land in BC by 2030
  • An updated schedule for all 14 Old-growth Strategic Review recommendations addressing delays
  • Making biodiversity a priority in FLPs and other forms of planning

In addition to Sierra Club BC taking issue with the update from the Province, Stand.earth, the Ancient Forest Alliance and the Endangered Ecosystems Alliance have all spoken out regarding this old-growth update.

mm
Curtis Blandy
curtis@victoriabuzz.com

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