Old-growth FAQs

Old-growth FAQs

Seventy-nine per cent of productive old-growth forests on Vancouver Island have already been logged, including more than 90% of the valley bottoms where the largest trees grow.

Only eight per cent are protected in parks and Old-Growth Management areas.

Stakeholders and experts are very clear that the NDP government has been inflating the amount of protected old-growth. So how do they do it? Three main ways:

There is currently far more low-productivity, economically “unloggable” old-growth than productive old-growth remaining in southwest BC. Low-productivity old-growth includes stunted trees with slow growth rates that can be found in sub-alpine areas and bogs. Low-productivity old-growth has little to no commercial value and is not endangered, but the government conveniently does not distinguish between these forests and high-productivity old-growth when calculating how much old-growth is protected on the coast.

The government also tends to exclude private lands from their calculations of how much old-growth remains, despite the fact that the provincial government allowed tens of thousands of hectares of old-growth to be logged when those private lands were still under provincial management.

Finally, the government fails to account for the vast amount of productive old-growth forest has been logged since European colonization, instead focusing only on a proportion of what's remaining when describing how much is protected from logging.

All of this data manipulation makes it look like far more old growth exists and is being actively protected than really is, and it is grossly misleading to British Columbians who trust their government to be transparent stewards of this public resource.

The BC Greens are calling for an immediate moratorium on old-growth logging in hotspots on Vancouver Island. This moratorium must be paired with investment in mill retrofits so we transition to a sustainable second-growth industry.

This involves a shift in management practices, meaningful collaboration with Indigenous nations, consultation with impacted communities, and retrofitting mills that currently only process old-growth. These changes are essential: we cannot continue to cut down old-growth hotspots on the Island.

A moratorium would put a stop to logging of old-growth forests on Vancouver Island in areas designated as hot spots until a permanent plan is in place.

We must put a stop to this before our old-growth forests disappear completely, which would  force BC to transition to a second-growth industry anyway. By acting now, we can preserve what old-growth we have left, while simultaneously setting up the forestry industry to thrive.

We called for a moratorium as part of our 2017 campaign as well.

BC’s remaining old-growth forests are scattered across the province. Some of these are considered by biologists, conservationists, First Nations, recreationalists, and businesses to be of critical conservation significance. These are old-growth “hotspots.”

There are several examples of essential hotspots on Vancouver Island, including the Central Walbran, the Nahmint Valley (near Port Alberni), Edinburgh Mountain (near Port Renfrew - the site of Big Lonely Doug), and Schmidt Creek (North of Seyward on the northeast side of the island).

Old-growth forests are a vital part of BC’s economy, history and cultural values. They support a diverse number of species, have immense tourism value, and are an important part of First Nations culture.

The temperate rainforests of BC represent the largest remaining tracts of a globally rare ecosystem covering just 0.5 percent of the planet’s landmass.

Although forests can be a renewable resource if managed correctly, old-growth is not renewable.

It can take 200 to 2,000 years for old-growth forests to regenerate to their current state. Once a forest is logged in BC, it’s usually scheduled to be logged every 30 to 80 years. That means that the old-growth we have now, if logged, will not be given time to become old-growth again. 

In a recent review of BC Timber Sales’ sales schedule, environmental organizations Elphinstone Logging Focus and Sierra Club BC revealed the BC government’s plan to auction more than 1,300 hectares of cutblocks in old-growth forests across Vancouver Island this year. That’s the equivalent of 29 Cathedral Groves.

More than 100 hectares of the old-growth in jeopardy is adjacent to Juan de Fuca Provincial Park and south of Port Renfrew, a community that depends on eco-tourism.

We must put a stop to this before our old-growth forests disappear completely, which would  force BC to transition to a second-growth industry anyway. By acting now, we can preserve what old-growth we have left, while simultaneously setting up the forestry industry to thrive.

Forestry jobs are of critical importance to BC. Last year they accounted for 65,500 jobs. But this number is far less than the amount of jobs forestry once supported. That’s because our forests have not been managed sustainably.

We want high-paying jobs that are not vulnerable to boom-bust economics. Right now there are mills on Vancouver Island that can only process old growth. But old-growth is a finite resource, and most of it is already gone. That means those forestry jobs are at risk.

By investing in mill retrofits we can set up these forestry workers to thrive in the long-term. Plus, if we focus on value-added manufacturing rather than raw-log exports, those jobs will be more reliable and better paying.

It’s a win-win for British Columbians and the forests we cherish.

There is a more sustainable and efficient way to preserve these critical ecosystems for future generations, supporting good jobs and economic prosperity in a second-growth forestry industry.

Stand with us to save our old-growth forests. Add your name to the list of others, who are calling on the government to implement a moratorium on old-growth logging.

Share your story. Tell us and others why the forests of BC are important to you! It doesn’t just have to be old growth; not all of us have been lucky enough to wonder under those awesome canopies. But we are all connected to this landscape. Tell us what connects you! Share your pictures and your stories on our website or on Twitter #GreenBCandMe #MyOldGrowthStory

And get involved — look for organizations in your community who are working to protect old-growth.

Right now we are in a climate crisis, as demonstrated by the state of our industries, endangered species, and habitats.

Since hotspots are the most intact, valuable areas left, we’re making them a priority as we triage the situation and transition to a sustainable economy.

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