To the Editor,
A new report (tinyurl.com/old-growth-review-report) by the Wilderness Committee shows the shocking truth behind the “talk and log” status quo that Horgan’s NDP denies, as they continually sidestep any discussion regarding the measures being taken to address their promise to entirely enact the Old Growth Panel’s recommendations.
The NDP’s current smoke and mirrors tactic seems to primarily be to reference confidentiality in ongoing meetings with Indigenous stakeholders (upon which many of the recommendations rightfully hinge), but the reality, according to a quote from forest ecologist Karen Price in this Mongo Bay article (tinyurl.com/old-growth-risk-21), is that some Indigenous Nations have shared deferral mapping with the government with the disheartening result that industry has targeted these sites for approval for logging.
The government has given zero solid long-term commitments for the protection of our most at-risk large tree old growth and has slated no budget commitments toward creating new economics to transition forest workers and dependent communities away from old-growth logging (another Panel recommendation).
At best the government has given vague, form-letter-type responses to anybody with concerns, including referencing closed-door meetings with Indigenous Nations, and at worse, there is no response or a politicking rhetorical spiel. This is particularly true since the resignation of MLA Doug Donaldson and the replacement by MLA Katrine Conroy as Minister of Forests.
According to Wilderness Committee mapping of the data, 84,669ha of old growth were slated for logging approval in the last year, up from 59,228ha the previous year. This 43 per cent ramping up is likely the result of industry fears of upcoming legislation limiting the harvest of old growth.
One of the key concepts in the Old Growth Panel’s report was that “conservation of ecosystem health and biodiversity of BC’s forests [becomes] an overarching priority”. This would supersede the 100+ year tradition that our forested areas be prioritized for log extraction. The one recommendation that the NDP can not implement is the one that was most time-sensitive: The deferral of the most at-risk ecosystems from logging within 6 months (November 2020). Better late than never, but at this time it’s business as usual. What is the priority here?
The Raush Valley is the largest predominantly pristine unprotected watershed directly connected to the Fraser River. Indeed, according to Conservation North’s “Seeing Red” interactive map, found here: tinyurl.com/seeing-red-interactive, it appears that the next protected area downriver is the Stein Valley, South of Lytton. That’s a pretty long paddle from Mt Robson. Let that thought sink in. Or, perhaps, just meditate on the extremity of red industrial development that this incredible map indicates already for the watersheds of B.C.’s largest river.
The one-year anniversary of the government receiving the Old Growth Panel’s recommendations was April 30th. Advocates across the province and around the world gave statements and presented the common 1st-anniversary present: a clock. Perhaps the government has forgotten the timeliness and importance of their promise. Time is running out, and we the people need to stand up and raise the alarm. Wake up, John Horgan.