VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Don Kayne, president and CEO of Canfor Corp., issued a statement opposing the British Columbia Forestry Ministry’s plans to soon begin deferring logging on 2.6 million hectares of old-growth forest.
Last month, the province announced its intention to work in partnership with First Nations to defer harvest of ancient, rare and priority large stands of old-growth deemed to be British Columbia’s most at-risk old-growth forests.
According to a press release issued by the B.C. Forestry Ministry, “Logging deferrals are a temporary measure – recommended by 2020’s Old Growth Strategic Review – to prevent irreversible biodiversity loss while First Nations, the Province and other partners develop a new approach to sustainable forest management that prioritizes ecosystem health and community prosperity throughout B.C. This new approach will be based on the recommendations provided in the Old Growth Strategic Review and will recognize that a shift to prioritize ecosystem health is necessary if the forests are to continue to provide essential benefits, such as clean air, clean water, carbon storage, conservation of biodiversity and timber.”
In his statement, addressed “Dear British Columbians,” Kayne says, “(W)e’re deeply concerned that the BC government has decided to defer 2.6 million hectares of old forests based on the advice of only five people. Government has not engaged with a broad group of Indigenous leaders, labour leaders, forest professionals and communities. Many important voices have been left out of this critical discussion.”
Kayne says the industry estimates that nearly 18,000 workers could be economically impacted by the deferrals.
“This should be a time for unity,” Kayne says.” We can choose a path that brings First Nations, labour leaders, forestry professionals and communities together to develop a sustainable old-growth management plan that protects our forests and ensures sustainable employment for our communities. We can build on the 75% of old-growth forests that are already protected or outside harvesting areas.
“To develop that plan, we are asking government, on behalf of our employees, Indigenous partners, contractors and communities, to immediately take the following steps:
“1. Use the facts, based on objective and transparent science and Indigenous traditional knowledge, to identify potential old-growth areas and deferrals.
“2. Undertake a collaborative process that includes Indigenous leaders, labour leaders, forest professionals and communities to develop the old-growth plan.”
The B.C. government says it has contacted all 204 First Nations in British Columbia and so far has received responses from 161 of them about implementing the logging deferrals.
“Almost all First Nations that responded expressed interest in engaging with the Province on old-growth management. In addition, many expressed interest in managing forests in support of broader, related values, including wildlife habitat, cultural practices, clean water, healthy salmon populations and species at risk.”
To support the deferral process, BC Timber Sales has paused advertising and selling licences in areas that overlap with the 2.6 million hectares of old-growth forests. This pause covers almost 570,000 hectares or roughly one-quarter of the deferral areas recommended by the Old Growth Technical Advisory Panel. Roughly half of the 2.6 million hectares of at-risk old growth is outside the Timber Harvesting Land Base and not threatened by logging for the foreseeable future.
“These deferrals allow us to maintain options that could otherwise be irreversibly lost as we develop the new approach to sustainable forest management that prioritizes ecosystem health and community prosperity throughout B.C.,” said Garry Merkel, co-author Old Growth Strategic Review.
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