According to the plan announced Tuesday, provincial authorities will work with First Nations on the deferral plan while British Columbia revises its approach to sustainable forest management.
British Columbia decides to carry old growth forests to 2.6 million hectares of land
Susan Yurkovic, president of the BC Council of Forest Industries, said the deferral plan would shut 14 to 20 factories and lose up to 18,000 jobs, four times what the province estimated.
Industry warns postponements will have major impact on BC forests
“Obviously we’re going to do a very thorough review of this by region, because we’ll want to know exactly where on the map, which factories will be down in which communities,” she said.
“It’s not just the jobs in the factories that are being lost. People lose their homes, real estate markets collapse, people move, schools close – it has a lot of ripple effects. “
The council also estimates that the delay would result in a loss of $ 400 million in government revenue, and says the panel of experts that made the recommendations was made up of environmentalists.
The province says the deferrals are needed to protect biodiversity as it develops its new forestry approach, building on recommendations from the 2020 old-growth strategic review.
British Columbia announces 2.6 million hectares of old growth forests will be preserved
It says it “brings together strategically coordinated and comprehensive supports” to help affected communities “with the supports needed to offset the impacts on jobs and the economy.”
But this decision was not well received by union representatives.
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“(This is) a devastating blow to our industry and I think, quite frankly, it’s going to be difficult for us to get over it,” said Jeff Bromley, president of the United Steelworkers lumber council, who represents more than 12,000 workers.
“These are high paying jobs and community support that are largely found in rural BC, but we also have a lot of operations and loggers here on the coast and on the Fraser. This will have far-reaching and far-reaching implications across the province in all forestry sectors.
A map of old-growth carryover areas can be found on the website of the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resources and Rural Development, updated on Tuesday.
The 11 regions identified include the Seven Sisters in the north, three in the Kootenays, one in Upper Southgate, one in Skagit Silverdaisy, and five on Vancouver Island.
The amount of old growth forest left in British Columbia remains a matter of dispute between the forest industry, government and environmentalists.
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The Council of Forest Industries says an independent study it commissioned found that 75 percent of British Columbia’s old-growth forests are already protected or off timber harvesting land.
The province touts the remaining 13 million hectares of old growth forest, while conservationists refer to a 2020 report from the Sierra Club, which found that only 3% of that area is home to tall trees.
The province has given First Nations 30 days to indicate whether or not they support the postponements or whether they need further discussion.
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Once the two-year deferral period ends, the province says some parts identified as at risk will be permanently protected from logging, while other areas will be included for sustainable timber harvesting under the province’s redesigned forest management policy.
The move comes as British Columbia’s ancient forest industry comes under international scrutiny and amid longstanding protests near the disputed Fairy Creek watershed on Vancouver Island, which have resulted in over 1,000 arrests.
In June, the province announced the two-year postponement of the harvest of century-old trees in Fairy Creek and the central Walbran Valley at the request of local First Nations.
-With files from Ted Chernecki and Emily Lazatin
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