A new approach to old forests

It’s time we had a paradigm shift when it comes to the abundant natural resources that surround us. Only by protecting what makes our province so special can we build long-term prosperity.

I’m committed to protecting old growth and biodiversity while supporting forest workers and communities.

This means recognizing that old forests are unique, irreplaceable, and complicated ecosystems, that they have their own intrinsic value, and that we should prioritize their overall ecosystem health, rather than just the value of standing timber.

For too long, BC had a divisive and patchwork approach to managing old growth forests. The BC Liberals did little to improve the situation – they fanned the flames of conflict, ignored biodiversity, and left forest-dependent communities out to dry as the industry changed around them.

I’ve been focused on a different approach. We asked an independent panel to provide us with advice on how we can do better when it comes to our old growth forests. The Panel visited communities across the province and provided a comprehensive set of recommendations.

In early September, we moved to protect nearly 353,000 hectares of old growth forests. But that’s just the beginning.

I’m committed to keep moving forward to protect old growth, create good jobs, and maintain family-supporting livelihoods in communities across the Province.

A re-elected BC NDP will implement the full slate of proposals from the Old Growth Strategic Review Panel. We will act on all fourteen recommendations and work with Indigenous leaders and organizations, industry, labour and environmental organizations on the steps that will take us there.

Forestry has a bright future, and it has to be sustainable. That’s how we generate long-term opportunities for people all across the province.

To support value-added opportunities that bring more benefits to our communities, we are working hard to embed a new approach that makes the most of this sustainable resource – like the incredibly innovative work being done right here in BC on tall-frame timber buildings. These buildings reduce carbon pollution, profile local renewable forest products, and promote the kind of investment our communities need to thrive.

And it means just as we are finding new and innovative ways to use forest products, there will also be cases when we need to defer development for forests that have a high risk of irreversible biodiversity loss. The Panel was clear that this is an important piece of the puzzle.

Many of our old growth stands are worth more standing up than they ever could be cut down, especially if we take a holistic approach that acknowledges broader benefits for communities and the environment.

Above all, sustainable development means recognizing our commitment to working with Indigenous communities and meeting our legislated obligations under the BC Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act. We will engage on a government-to-government basis with Indigenous leaders to implement the strategic review.

This new, holistic approach to old growth forests has been supported by conservation advocates and several Indigenous leaders here on the Island – and the Green Party of BC also recommends adopting the report recommendations.

We’re at an important decision point when it comes to the long-term future of our majestic natural heritage.Thanks to this important work, we know exactly the direction in which we need to go.

Now let’s get to work.