VICTORIA, B.C. — The B.C. Green caucus finds government’s announcement that it is moving to protect just 54 old-growth trees on the B.C. Big Tree Registry inadequate given the ongoing, unsustainable logging of old-growth across the province.
“It’s nice to know that these 54 trees, and the 1-hectare areas surrounding each of the trees, are going to be protected for generations to come,” said Adam Olsen, B.C. Green spokesperson for Forests, Lands, and Natural Resources. “But if government were serious about protecting B.C.’s old growth forests they would be immediately protecting the few remaining, high productivity old-growth ecosystems - not a handful of trees.
“Today's announcement setting aside 54 hectares around old-growth specimens does nothing to change the status-quo of old-growth logging in BC."
On Vancouver Island alone, 79 per cent of the original productive old-growth forests have been logged, including 90 per cent of the valley bottoms where the largest trees grow. In May the public learned that the government’s timber agency planned to auction more than 1,300 hectares of cutblocks in old-growth forests across Vancouver Island in 2019.
“This announcement is distracting from the government's ongoing failure to protect old-growth ecosystems in B.C.,” said Sonia Furstenau, who shares the spokesperson role for Forests, Lands, and Natural Resources. “Old-growth is not a renewable resource and there’s not much of it left. Instead of logging until the last ancient trees have been killed - a process that would exacerbate job losses - we should proactively support forestry communities as they transition into sustainable, second-growth logging.
“The amount that government says is protected has been inflated by unproductive forests that are not as ecologically valuable or economically productive — adding 54 trees to that number is not going to be enough to ensure that these forests are intact for years to come.”
Old-growth forests play a critical role for endangered species, safeguard community watersheds and hold key cultural values for Indigenous people. They also support a thriving ecotourism economy and provincial resiliency in the face of global climate change.
“This spring we called on government to immediately stop logging old-growth hotspots on Vancouver Island, invest in second-growth and value-added manufacturing, and shift management practices,” added Olsen. “They have yet to do that.
“The government has been promising an old-growth strategy since they were first elected. We have yet to see that strategy take shape - and now they are waiting for a panel report in spring 2020. Meanwhile, old-growth is continuing to disappear. This is a classic example of government being unable to see the forest for the trees.”
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