British Columbia is a world leader in forest and environmental conservation, with tight regulations protecting and preserving ancient forests and wildlife, as well as creating sustainable economic opportunities for First Nations.
A new report from BC’s Resource Works Society, entitled "Forestry in British Columbia: Setting the Record Straight", examines a wide range of evidence including claims that forests are in a state of crisis that can only be addressed by extreme and immediate actions.
Its publication follows a week of escalated protest in the Fairy Creek watershed. On April 1, the Supreme Court of BC granted an injunction to Teal-Jones, ordering blockaders to leave Fairy Creek.
On May 17th, the RCMP began enforcing the injunction. Three days later, 21 blockaders have been arrested for breaching the injunction, obstructing justice, possessing stolen property, and assaulting a police officer, claiming their actions are necessary to stop the logging of what they insist is "the last 3% of giant old-growth trees left in the province."
The local Pacheedaht First Nation has written an open letter, calling out “unsolicited involvement or interference by others in our Territory, including third-party activism.” The Nation has been a BC leader in charting a collaborative path to forestry management, conservation, and Indigenous economic development.
As the report finds, "forest management in BC is not in crisis; far from it. Rather, there is a 'crisis' of misinformation."
- On Vancouver Island alone, 860,000 hectares is considered old forest (>250 years old), of which 520,000 hectares or 62% is protected.
- Old growth is not being harvested "down to the last tree". Coastal forests (on Crown land) generally are projected to have a relatively stable annual allowable cut over the next 100 years at a sustainable rate of ~15 million cubic metres.
- There is no evidence that a "forest management crisis" exists once all relevant factors are examined.
- The Fairy Creek watershed is not "southern Vancouver Island’s last intact old-growth forest", an oft-repeated claim despite the fact that at least 10 other nearby watersheds are also intact and feature old growth.
"There's always room for improvement, but the claims that we are on the brink of losing all the remaining old-growth forests in the province or on the coast simply do not stand up to scrutiny," said Stewart Muir, executive director of the Resource Works Society and a report co-author with Josiah Haynes.
"While we welcome the coming paradigm shift in forest management that has been signalled by the provincial government, residents of BC can share our confidence that this is being managed in a proper professional and consultative context," said Muir.
Report editor and co-author Josiah Haynes added: "Dialogue on the role of sustainable forestry in supporting communities and our BC economy has been impacted by misinformation, drawing attention away from the real story. But when it comes to caring for our environment and respecting workers, sensationalism fails where facts succeed.”
Resource Works ... communicates with British Columbians about the importance of the province's resource sectors to their personal well-being. It demonstrates how responsible development of British Columbia's resources creates jobs and incomes throughout the province, both directly and indirectly, while maintaining a clean and healthy environment.
And Resource Works explores the long-term economic future of British Columbia as a place that depends on the responsible development, extraction and transportation of the province's resources.