New B.C. old-growth plan another stall tactic

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Wilderness Committee

An aerial shot of a clearcut in an old-growth forest. End of image description.
Photo: Alex Tsui

The BC NDP government promised action but is delivering another plan without interim action to safeguard threatened forests 

VICTORIA / UNCEDED lək̓ʷəŋən TERRITORY — The Wilderness Committee is frustrated and underwhelmed with the BC NDP government's latest plan for old-growth forests, which again delays meaningful changes and fails to include any new interim measures to protect the most endangered old-growth forests.

The new plan is called From Review to Action, a title the Wilderness Committee calls ironic given the focus is on previously announced measures framed as new progress as well as additional processes, reviews and panels to continue deliberating how to implement the province’s commitments on old-growth while withholding adequate protections for the most threatened stands.

“This is classic 1990’s-style ‘talk-and-log.’ The endless delays from the BC NDP are resulting in the destruction of irreplaceable forests they vowed to protect,” said Tobyn Neame, Forest Campaigner with the Wilderness Committee. “Premier David Eby promised accelerated action on old-growth, not another vague plan, and it looks like he is trying to tick a box without doing the actual work.”

In September 2020, the B.C. government released the report from its Old-Growth Strategic Review (OGSR), which made sweeping recommendations, including the immediate protection of at-risk old-growth forests. Nearly three and a half years since then, the province says it has deferred logging in more than two million hectares of old-growth forest, but provided no information on where these areas are or the length of their temporary protection. 

Meanwhile, well over a million hectares of the most at-risk old-growth forest remains open to logging and tens of thousands of hectares have been destroyed while the government has done additional reviews and engagement processes.

The new document restates the goals set in the OGSR report and claims the recommendation for immediate action for at-risk old-growth is in “advanced implementation,” an assessment the Wilderness Committee categorically disagrees with.

Most alarmingly, the document delays the release of the final Biodiversity and Ecosystem Health Framework, a policy recommended in the OGSR and meant to prioritize wildlife and their habitat over resource extraction, from this spring until 2025.

“While the B.C. government is busy delaying action to protect biodiversity and letting species go extinct yearly, they are actively permitting destructive projects like Roberts Bank Terminal 2, clearcut logging, and new pipelines in record time,” said Lucero Gonzalez, Conservation and Policy Campaigner with the Wilderness Committee. “How much more species habitat will be lost before 2025 is a question the BC NDP government does not seem overly concerned with.”

The Wilderness Committee is highlighting that this lackluster plan and delayed biodiversity framework comes at a time when the northern spotted owl, an old-growth dependent species, stands on the brink of extinction in B.C., with just one known wild-born owl remaining in the wild.

“Far too much old-growth has already been logged when so many species, including the spotted owl, have disappeared from much of their former range,” said Joe Foy, Protected Areas Campaigner with the Wilderness Committee. “Yet even in these dire times for biodiversity, logging permits for the last remnant old-growth forests continue to be handed out by B.C., it’s a shocking dereliction of duty to future generations.”

The Wilderness Committee is calling for an urgent response from the BC NDP government, including emergency measures to prevent more old-growth forests and other biodiverse ecosystems from being lost because of these delays. These measures could include the deferral of all at-risk old-growth forests, immediate leveraging of recently announced federal and provincial conservation funding to support this and further interim measures to prevent additional loss of old-growth and critical biodiversity while long-term land use plans are developed.

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For more information, please contact:

Tobyn Neame | Forest Campaigner


Lucero Gonzalez | Conservation and Policy Campaigner


Joe Foy | Protected Areas Campaigner


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