Primary forests that the British Columbia government has identified for deferral of logging are still at risk of being cut down, according to a west coast conservation group.
“Intentions don’t stop chainsaws,” said Torrance Coste, campaign manager for the Wilderness Committee, of the government’s inability to act immediately on the postponements announced Nov. 2.
Mapping by committee indicates that at least 50,000 hectares of forest at risk identified by the province, an area four times the size of Vancouver, is already approved for logging, has pending approvals or may already be logged since it was announced, Coste said.
In addition, approximately 2,000 hectares of the total approved or requested cuts have occurred in the last month, he said.
Acting on the input of an independent panel of experts, the province pledged to reserve 2.6 million hectares of the rarest and most at risk forest ecosystems for two years and gave First Nations a month to decide whether to support the postponements or not.
Many First Nations leaders have criticized the government’s process and timeline for being impossibly short in making decisions that reflect free, prior and informed consent, a fundamental aspect of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. that the province has adopted.
Furthermore, the province did not describe how or if First Nations communities would be offered compensation to make up for lost logging income should they support postponements.
The province has put First Nations in an impossible situation, said Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of Indian Chiefs of British Columbia, in a Press release Thursday.
“While chainsaws continue to roar and primary forests continue to decline, First Nations must face multiple and complex challenges around conserving resources and protecting their livelihoods,” said Phillip, adding that the province has yielded the problem of the old forest conflict around the corner. indigenous peoples and must act urgently to protect forests fairly.
“That means immediately postponing the felling of old trees at risk while providing resources to communities to seek permanent protection,” said Phillip.
At least 50,000 hectares of the #OldGrowth at risk identified by BC for logging deferrals, an area four times the size of Vancouver, is already approved for logging, has pending approvals or may already be logged, says @wildernews. #BCpoli
Coste agreed that asking First Nations to consider postponements without replacing lost forestry revenue was not offering them an option at all.
“If the nations look around and see that the government’s counter offer is $ 0, they will have to take the only option they can.”
Furthermore, announcing postponements but not implementing them immediately only put irreplaceable ecosystems in further jeopardy, he said.
“How many logging companies are looking at the writing on the wall and running to the finish?” he said.
The province has taken a positive step by immediately suspending logging within holdings controlled by BC Timber Sales, the forestry arm of the government, he added.
That means that about 20 percent of the total forest the government plans to defer is safe for now.
But the public should not confuse postponements with lasting protection that primary forests urgently and ultimately need, Coste said.
“Yes, the logging postponements are needed immediately, but they are not a permanent solution, they are a turnstile.”
Rochelle Baker / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada National Observer