Douglas fir in Saanich, B.C., 2019. (B.C. government)

Douglas fir in Saanich, B.C., 2019. (B.C. government)

What exactly is ‘old growth’ B.C. forest, and how much is protected?

Forests minister Doug Donaldson doesn’t support ‘moratorium’

B.C. Forests Minister Doug Donaldson has had an independent report on old-growth forest preservation on his desk since May, but it will be some time before it is released and longer before any of its recommendations are acted upon.

Donaldson appointed two experts to conduct the “strategic review” in October, with the forest industry struggling with poor economic conditions, the B.C. government’s latest logging restrictions and continued protests calling for a moratorium on old growth logging.

Questioned on his ministry’s $489 million budget at the B.C. legislature, Donaldson said the report is expected to be released soon, but that will be followed by engagement on the recommendations. The terms of reference require “government-to-government” talks with first nations before any decisions are made, which is expected to take several months.

Donaldson made a couple of things clear in his answers to B.C. Liberal MLA John Rustad. He isn’t considering any change to the province’s definition of old growth forest, or a moratorium on old-growth logging for an industry that has seen steady increase in protected areas and restrictions on the Crown land base.

B.C.’s definition of old growth is 250 years old in the Coast region, and 140 years old in the Interior. Overall, about 13.7 million hectares or 23 per cent of the total B.C. forest base is considered old growth, and 3.75 million hectares, 27 per cent of the old growth, may be harvested, Donaldson said.

Asked by Rustad if he is considering a short-term moratorium on old-growth logging until the report is considered, Donaldson responded: “I have never used, and we’ve never used as a government, the word ‘moratorium’.”

RELATED: ‘B.C. has the most sustainably managed forests in the world’

RELATED: Teal-Jones shuts down B.C. coast logging operations

The Coast region, which includes Vancouver Island, the Central Coast area designated as the Great Bear Rainforest timber supply area and Haida Gwaii, has 7.55 million hectares of forest, with 42 per cent old growth. “And 33 per cent of the west coast region is protected or reserved,” Donaldson said.

Vancouver Island forests are 73 per cent Crown land and 27 per cent private, much of it the legacy of colonial Governor James Douglas’ 1850s deal with coal baron James Dunsmuir to trade land for construction of the Esquimalt and Nanaimo (E&N) Railway.

A focus of anti-logging protests for decades, Vancouver Island’s Crown forests are 39 per cent old growth, nearly half of which are protected or reserved.

The review was completed in January by Garry Merkel, a professional forester and member of the Tahltan Nation in northwest B.C., and Al Gorley, a professional forester and former chair of the Forest Practices Board that audits logging in B.C.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureforestry

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Benvoulin Church in Kelowna. (Image: Prime Light Media)
Protection sought for Kelowna’s Benvoulin Heritage Park

The Central Okanagan Heritage Society is seeking heritage designation to preserve the park

(Black Press file photo)
Single-lane at Highway 3 after vehicle incident

The road was closed for about three hours earlier on Jan. 18

When people talk about Blue Monday, they really mean Seasonal Affective Disorder, according to CMHA Kelowna. (Pixabay)
CMHA Kelowna offers tips for managing winter blues during COVID-19

CMHA says it’s important to take care of mental well-being during these times

A map released by the BCCDC on Jan. 15 shows the number of new COVID-19 cases reported for each local health area between Jan. 3 and 9. (BCCDC Image)
Weekly COVID-19 case-counts continue to drop in the Central Okanagan

The Central Okanagan recorded 110 cases Jan. 3–9, a huge drop from the 349 noted between Dec. 6 and 12

(Vernon Search and Rescue/Facebook)
Vernon Search and Rescue responds after family gets UTV stuck on SilverStar trails

The family activated their SOS beacon around 3 p.m. once they realized they could be facing a night alone in the mountains

A scene from “Canada and the Gulf War: In their own words,” a video by The Memory Project, a program of Historica Canada, is shown in this undated illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Historica Canada
New video marks Canada’s contributions to first Gulf War on 30th anniversary

Veterans Affairs Canada says around 4,500 Canadian military personnel served during the war

U.S. military units march in front of the Capitol, Monday, Jan. 18, 2021 in Washington, as they rehearse for President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration ceremony, which will be held at the Capitol on Wednesday. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Biden aims for unifying speech at daunting moment for U.S.

President Donald Trump won’t be there to hear it

Vernon’s Heron Grove retirement facility. (Good Samaritan Society photo)
Resident of Vernon’s Heron Grove retirement home tests positive for COVID-19

Interior Health has not declared an outbreak at the facility

Williams Lake physician Dr. Ivan Scrooby and medical graduate student Vionarica Gusti hold up the COSMIC Bubble Helmet. Both are part of the non-profit organization COSMIC Medical which has come together to develop devices for treating patients with COVID-19. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Group of B.C. doctors, engineers developing ‘bubble helmet’ for COVID-19 patients

The helmet could support several patients at once, says the group

A 17-year-old snowmobiler used his backcountry survival sense in preparation to spend the night on the mountain near 100 Mile House Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021 after getting lost. (South Cariboo Search and Rescue Facebook photo)
Teen praised for backcountry survival skills after getting lost in B.C.’s Cariboo mountains

“This young man did everything right after things went wrong.”

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa on December 10, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
No place for ‘far right’ in Conservative Party, Erin O’Toole says

O’Toole condemned the Capitol attack as ‘horrifying’ and sought to distance himself and the Tories from Trumpism

A passer by walks in High Park, in Toronto, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. This workweek will kick off with what’s fabled to be the most depressing day of the year, during one of the darkest eras in recent history. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
‘Blue Monday’ getting you down? Exercise may be the cure, say experts

Many jurisdictions are tightening restrictions to curb soaring COVID-19 case counts

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Dastkar, a new furniture store in Vernon, features handmade, unique furniture carved from wood and inlaid with brass in the Chiniot style. The business located on 43rd Avenue was started in December 2020 but is currently unstaffed due to COVID-19 staffing shortages. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
PHOTOS: Vernon’s hidden handmade furniture store

Owners of Shahi Pakwan Indian restaurant opened the South Asian furniture store in December 2020

Most Read