Leaked map suggests B.C. has approved less than half of proposed old-growth deferrals |


A report from the B.C. branch of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives says a leaked map suggests the province has approved a pause for logging in less than half of the old-growth forests identified as being at risk of permanent biodiversity loss.

Ben Parfitt, a resource policy analyst with the centre, says a comparison of the Forests Ministry map against 2.6 million hectares of old-growth initially proposed for deferral in 2021 found 55 per cent of the areas with large and very large trees had been removed.

At the same time, Parfitt says it shows the ministry had added deferrals in forests with smaller trees that offer little or no commercial value to the logging industry.

A statement from Forests Minister Bruce Ralston says “the data in question confirms what (officials) have been saying all along: that 2.42 million hectares of old growth forests are deferred or newly protected since November 2021.”

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That includes 1.23 million hectares of “priority at-risk” old-growth identified by a provincially appointed panel of ecologists and forestry experts, he says.

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The B.C. government launched the deferral plan in November 2021, saying the temporary pauses on logging required the approval of First Nations in order to go ahead, and Ralston says some have supported the plan, while others haven’t.

“We’ve been clear that while some First Nations support (deferrals proposed by the panel), others have said that based on their expertise, alternative old growth land … should be deferred instead,” the statement says. “Some First Nations don’t support proposed deferrals and prefer to continue forestry activity in their territory.”

The deferrals are “one step” B.C. is taking to conserve old-growth, Ralston adds.

“We will keep working alongside First Nations, communities, advocates and the sector to conserve more ancient forests for our children and grandchildren.”

Parfitt says he was sent a copy of the password-protected map file, which was located in a folder titled “Supported OG Harvest Deferral” on a provincial web page.

The folder was visible on Wednesday, but the Forests Ministry web page now displays an error message.

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