Illegal highway blockades appear to be based on claims that old growth forests are in trouble. Are they really in trouble?
It is definitely true that a number of campaigns have been started that oppose forestry and logging. They all have their own information and talking points.
However, when a wider net is cast it quickly becomes apparent that a lot of dubious information is circulating.
Of course there's always room for improvement. Recently the BC government has taken a lot of steps to make changes and can hardly be said to be ignoring this issue.
Here are some verified talking points based on our research at Clear The Road:
- More than half of B.C.’s old growth is already protected or unsuitable for logging.
- Old growth forests are being constantly replenished. On Vancouver Island, for example, one tree passes into the old growth category (250 years or older) every 20 seconds.
- While all old forests contribute to biodiversity, there has been much public discussion about the amount of old forests growing on sites capable of producing big trees – with some reports falsely suggesting this amount to be 3%.
- That is about 1/10th of the actual figure since there are over 3.3 million hectares of old forests growing today on high productivity sites capable of producing big trees. So the correct figure is 30%, not 3%.
- As traditional land stewards, First Nations have knowledge as well as rights when it comes to managing forests. In the post-colonial era, all residents should be listening to them. That includes when they support renewable harvesting and enhancement of mixed-age forests on their traditional territory.
- The amount of forest that can be harvested every year is less than one per cent of the total harvestable area.
- For every tree harvested, three new ones are planted.
- Over 100 permitting steps must be followed before even a single tree can be harvested.
- Of the province’s 13.2 million hectares of old growth, 4.4 million hectares (33 per cent) is protected in parks or other set-asides, 3.3 million hectares (25 per cent) is available for activities such as forestry, and 6.2 million hectares (41 per cent) is not officially protected but considered to be inoperable (i.e., too small, steep or remote to log).
- BC already has more than 50 million hectares of forests that are environmentally certified internationally.
Understanding the facts about old growth forestry in British Columbia is worth the effort. BC forestry is a leader on a global scale - not that we can't always be improving how things are done.
- GreenGrowthBC has solid information on this topic
- Old Growth Forests - British Columbia government information page