Where do BC’s Major Political Parties Stand on Old-Growth Logging and Related Issues?

Published: October 15, 2020
Posted in: Announcements
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The BC government has called a snap election for October 24th, putting critical issues like the continued logging of BC’s endangered old-growth forests, reconciliation with Indigenous Nations, climate change, forestry practices, and the economy into the spotlight.

We’ve prepared a summary of where each of BC’s three major parties stand on old-growth and related issues and given each party a grade to help voters make informed decisions this election.

For information on how and where to vote visit Elections BC


BC NDP

Old-growth forest policies

GRADE: D

Over the last three and a half years, the BC NDP have continued to enable the massive, widespread destruction of BC’s old-growth forests at the same rate as the BC Liberals even as endangered species like mountain caribou and spotted owls continue to dramatically decline in numbers. They also failed to implement their 2017 election platform commitment to “take an evidence-based scientific approach and use the ecosystem-based management of the Great Bear Rainforest as a model” to sustainably manage BC’s old-growth.

Instead, in 2019, the BC NDP announced they would protect 54 big trees on BC’s Big Tree Registry and convene an independent panel to review BC’s forest policies. The panel’s final report was released in September, at which time the NDP announced they would enact a regulation estimated to protect up to 1,500 more of BC’s biggest trees. They also announced two-year logging deferrals in 353,000 hectares (ha) in nine areas across BC. However, only 3,800 ha – just 1% – of the 353,000 ha contains productive old-growth forest with big trees – the type of forest the old-growth panel has recommended the BC government take immediate action to protect.

In their 2020 election platform, the BC NDP promised to work with First Nations governments, labour, industry, and environmental groups to implement the Old Growth Strategic Review panel’s recommendations to protect old-growth forests. The 14 recommendations outlined in the independent panel’s report are a blueprint for a complete paradigm shift in the way BC manages old-growth forests, putting ecosystem health and biodiversity above timber values. However, the NDP haven’t committed to implementing the recommendations on the panel’s three-year timeline and they have failed to protect the last remaining 3% of BC’s productive, big tree old-growth forests. They have also failed to commit critical funding to support the creation of new protected areas; help BC transition to sustainable, value-added, second-growth forestry; and support First Nations’ land-use plans and sustainable economies.

Raw log exports, wood manufacturing, and support for communities in transition

GRADE: D

Since coming to power, the NDP have failed to curb the export of raw, unprocessed logs from BC’s coast – something the NDP were strongly in support of doing while in opposition. Although the NDP claim to want to get more value out of BC logs, and despite continued job loss and mill closures across BC due to decades of unsustainable harvesting and a lack of long-term planning, they still haven’t devised a comprehensive economic strategy or committed sufficient funding to expand BC’s value-added wood manufacturing sector, help forest-based communities diversify their economies, or expedite the transition to a sustainable, second growth forest sector.

Instead, the NDP have allowed old-growth forests to be logged to make wood pellets for BC’s burgeoning biofuels industry (which releases massive amounts of CO2 emissions) and have promoted the use of mass timber in public buildings as a “sustainable” alternative to concrete, even though it could be manufactured using old-growth trees.

In their platform, the BC NDP promise to allocate a specific portion the annual allowable cut to value-added producers and say they will continue “revitalizing” BC’s forests through greater investments in tree planting and wildfire prevention. As part of their post-COVID Economic Recovery Plan, they also promise to support resource communities facing job loss, help retrain impacted workers, and develop higher value goods.


BC Green Party

Old-growth forest policies

GRADE: A+

The Greens have been outspoken about the need to protect endangered old-growth throughout their time in government. For example, in the spring of 2019, they called on the BC NDP to enact immediate moratoria on old-growth logging in hotspots on Vancouver Island and to invest in mill retrofits to aid the transition to a sustainable second-growth industry.

In their election platform, the BC Greens promise to put an immediate end to the logging of old growth forests in high risk ecosystems and partner with First Nations to fully implement all of the old-growth review panel’s recommendations. They also commit to enacting legislation that establishes forest ecosystem health and biodiversity as an overarching priority and establishing funding mechanisms to support old-growth protection and communities.

Raw log exports, wood manufacturing, and support for communities in transition

GRADE: A+

The Greens have promised to ensure small producers in BC have better access to fibre and to incentivize value-added wood manufacturing, including non-traditional uses of BC wood.

They have committed to ending raw log exports, reducing emissions from forestry, and ensuring that First Nations, municipalities, and regional districts reap more benefits from BC’s forest sector.

Finally, the BC Greens promise to support forestry workers and communities in the transition away from old-growth logging by investing in retraining and by supporting more sustainable use of BC’s forests, for example, through investments in tourism and carbon economies.


BC Liberal Party

Old-growth forest policies

GRADE: F

During their time in power, the BC Liberals significantly increased the rate of old-growth logging in BC’s interior and allowed Old-Growth Management Area boundaries in many parts of BC to be adjusted to allow for more logging. Using stumpage fees and taxpayers’ dollars, they aggressively marketed BC old-growth wood abroad and reduced old-growth forest retention targets in the Central Interior to prop-up ailing mills. They also deregulated vast areas of private, corporate forest lands that were once publicly regulated, opening up major tracts of protected old-growth forests for liquidation. The Liberals’ key area of progress in reducing the rate of cut was in the Great Bear Rainforest, where the AAC was reduced by 40%, and in Haida Gwaii, where the AAC was reduced by 50%.

The BC Liberals’ current forestry platform is the unsustainable status quo: maintain business-as-usual logging (which includes clearcutting old-growth forests), support mass timber construction projects made from BC wood, and plant more trees. They also promise to “modernize” management practices and provide more public subsidies to make it easier and cheaper for companies to log. Their platform makes no mention of the need to protect old-growth forests. In fact, they promise to introduce legislation to protect the “working forest” – an approach that would see the vast majority of BC’s remaining endangered old-growth logged.

Raw log exports, wood manufacturing, and support for communities in transition

GRADE: F

The BC Liberals dramatically increased the rate of raw log exports during their 16 years in power, quadrupling average annual log exports to over 6 million cubic meters each year, resulting in the loss of thousands of potential forestry jobs in BC. They removed the local milling requirement, granted scores of log export permits from Crown lands, issued general exemptions against log export restrictions for the entire North Coast, and removed Tree Farm Licences on corporate private lands, opening the floodgates to log exports.

They have not made any commitments in their 2020 platform to curb raw log exports, invest in value-added wood manufacturing, or help forest-based communities diversify their economies or transition to second-growth logging.

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