Government of B.C. unveils updated forestry policy

Modernization is a key topic in the updated policies, with increased community and Indigenous involvement.

Demonstrators at a Revelstoke rally for old growth forests form a circle to portray the size of ancient trees. The Government of B.C. is not stopping logging in the Fairy Creek area. Photo: Bailey Gingras-Hamilton

The Government of British Columbia announced intentions to modernize forestry policies today, with a focus on old growth forests and economic sustainability.

In a media release, the provincial government stated they are implementing deferrals on old growth logging. Conversations around additional deferral areas are also ongoing.

However, the province is not stopping the controversial logging of old growth forests in the Fairy Creek area. They claim they are having conversations with Indigenous leaders, but will not disclose any more information.

Instead, they are focusing on the Old Growth Strategic Review, which was introduced in 2020. It claims that at 10 million hectares, majority of British Columbia’s old growth forests are protected. The remainder, approximately 27 per cent, is legal to harvest.

Logging trucks pass each other on Victoria Road in Revelstoke. Photo: Aaron Orlando/Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine

Community-specific management is also a key topic in the updated policy. In particular, the Government of B.C. is reconsidering tenure agreements within the forestry industry. Criteria for tenure replacements are also being revisited.

Long-term economic growth in rural communities, including Revelstoke, is a priority according to the Government of B.C. They acknowledge how the economies of scale affect tenures within smaller logging communities.

The province also plans on doubling the number of tenure agreements given to Indigenous stakeholders.

Prescribed burns are also being reintroduced as a land management tool, including cultural fires in collaboration with Indigenous partners.

Reactions to the announcements

B.C. environmental organization Wilderness Committee called the announcement a “missed opportunity” to de-escalate tensions around old growth logging in B.C.

“John Horgan made big promises on old growth, but instead of stepping up and keeping them he’s skirting around them and issuing out-of-touch statements while continuing to heel drag and stall,” said Wilderness Committee National Campaign Director Torrance Coste. “The premier needs to find the courage and stop avoiding reality. He needs to put a hold on old growth logging.”

In a statement, Wilderness Committee said the concentration of logging tenure with a handful of corporations and B.C.’s outdated Forest, Range and Practices Act are some of the causes of the many problems in forests in B.C., commitments to address these don’t change the immediate need to defer logging in at-risk old growth forests.

While more involvement in the forest industry for First Nations is important, decolonization and returning the land must be the ultimate goal.

The B.C. Council of Forest Industries issued a statement largely supportive of the June 1 announcement.

Susan Yurkovich, President and CEO of the BC Council of Forest Industries, said the organization looks forward to working with the government on the changes in the coming weeks and years.

“We appreciate the Province’s desire to work collaboratively to ensure healthy forests, create more opportunities for Indigenous people and communities, sustain good jobs for British Columbians and deliver low carbon forest products to the world. We also appreciate the government’s acknowledgment that having a sustainable and competitive forest products industry here in B.C. will help us achieve all those objectives.”


Read our story from September 2020 on the provincial government’s old growth deferral announcement, including an interview with the former forests minister on local forestry topics such as land-use planning and mountain caribou recovery.

B.C. announces 40,000-hectare Incomappleux Valley harvesting ‘deferral’ as part of old-growth forest plan

This post was published by a member of the Revelstoke Mountaineer staff. Stories published under the staff byline include news briefs, stories that consist mostly of media releases, social media post shares, and stories by contributors with the author's name listed in the body of the story.