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

Tree replacement, construction scheduled for Kelowna’s Stuart Park

Sixteen struggling trees are being removed because they are struggling, the city said

Okanagan whisky lottery adds new twists

Winners of Okanagan Spirits’ Laird of Fintry lottery announced in four batches beginning Sept. 28

BC Libertarian party names Kelowna West candidate

Matt Badura has been acclaimed as Kelowna West’s Libertarian candidate in the upcoming provincial election

QUIZ: Do you know what’s on TV?

Fall is normally the time when new television shows are released

COVID-19 outbreak declared at Calvary Chapel Kelowna

Attendees of the Sept. 13 morning church service may have been exposed, Interior Health says

B.C. records 98 more COVID-19 cases, most in Lower Mainland

One new senior home outbreak, Surrey Memorial outbreak over

A (virtual) walk around the world by 88-year-old B.C. man

George Doi says it’s simple: ‘I like walking’

End of CERB means uncertainty for some, new system for others

As of a week ago, the CERB had paid out $79.3 billion to 8.8 million people

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

West Kelowna Warriors complete sweep of Vernon Vipers

Warriors edge Snakes 2-1 as Okanagan Cup BCHL exhibition tournament begins

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Horgan, Wilkinson trade barbs over MSP premiums, health care at campaign stops

Horgan called a snap election for Oct. 24 earlier this week

Public input sharpens vision of Oyama Ithmus Park

Proposed project to shape the long-term future of waterfront land in Lake Country

Most Read