Right now until 5:00 pm, Friday, June 26th, the BC government is seeking input from British Columbians on their priorities for the 2021 provincial budget. This is a critical opportunity for us to request funding for old-growth forest protection!
Budget 2021 will set the tone for a post-COVID-19 BC. With $1.5 billion in stimulus spending, overwhelming public support, and a promise to “build back better” after COVID, the BC government needs to prioritize spending for environmental conservation, an area which typically receives decreased funding and attention following an economic downturn.
Protecting ancient forests while supporting First Nations communities is critical for ensuring a healthy, just, and resilient British Columbia. And, although regulatory measures such as science-based protection targets are desperately needed for ancient forests on Crown lands, BC also needs to allocate funding in Budget 2021 to protect endangered old-growth forests and other ecosystems on private lands and support the long-term economic and social well-being of First Nations communities that want to protect ancient forests in their territories.
Please join us in calling on the BC government to commit funding in Budget 2021 for:
- A provincial Natural Lands Acquisition Fund for the purchase and protection of endangered ecosystems on private lands to sustain wildlife, clean water, recreation and tourism;
- Conservation financing for the sustainable economic development of First Nations economies in lieu of old-growth logging;
- Indigenous-led land use planning and protected areas to maintain the significant cultural values of ancient forests while supporting First Nations’ communities and wellbeing.
To submit your feedback, visit the Budget 2021 consultation website, where you can either make a written, audio, or video submission (see our suggested wording for a written submission below) or complete the online survey (see our handy survey guide below).
To the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services,
BC’s coastal and temperate old-growth forests are vital for sustaining unique and endangered species, BC’s multi-billion dollar tourism industry, many First Nations cultures, a stable climate, and clean water for communities and wild salmon.
Recent independent research shows that only a tiny fraction (less than 3%) of BC’s highly productive old-growth forests (those capable of growing big trees) remain standing today. Studies have also shown that keeping old-growth forests standing can provide a greater overall economic benefit than cutting them down when factoring in the values listed above.
I therefore recommend the BC government prioritize the conservation of endangered old-growth forests in its 2021 provincial budget by:
1) Establishing a dedicated $40 million per year BC Natural Lands Acquisition Fund to purchase private lands of high conservation, scenic, cultural, and recreational value from willing sellers to add to BC’s parks and protected areas system. This $40 million annual fund should increase by $10 million/year until the fund reaches $100 million/year.
2) Contributing funding toward the sustainable development and economic diversification of Vancouver Island First Nations communities in lieu of old-growth logging, similar to the $120 million (including $30 million in provincial funds) provided to First Nations in the Great Bear Rainforest in support of ecosystem-based management in that region.
3) Allocate dedicated funding toward the planning, implementation, and management of Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCAs) in BC. IPCAs are increasingly being recognized as innovative and effective mechanisms for conserving lands and waters while also supporting the languages, cultures, health, wellbeing, jobs, and economies of Indigenous communities and must be supported and funded in Budget 2021.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
In addition to your own views, please include one or both of the following points.
Note: To edit the text below, copy and paste it into a Word document or a similar program, edit, then copy/paste into the survey.
1. To create a resilient and truly sustainable economy, we must protect the natural ecosystems on which we all depend for our health and survival. Many of BC’s most endangered ecosystems are found on privately-owned lands and support large concentrations of endangered species, wild salmon habitat, drinking watersheds, the climate, important First Nations cultural sites, and outstanding tourism and recreational opportunities. The BC government must allocate funding to the creation of a provincial Natural Lands Acquisition Fund to systematically purchase and protect endangered ecosystems on BC’s private lands for the benefit of communities and species alike.
2. Recent research shows that only a tiny fraction of BC’s productive old-growth forests remain standing today. In order to protect endangered old-growth forests on a large scale while also supporting the long-term economic and social wellbeing of Indigenous communities, the BC government must increase funding for Indigenous-led land-use planning, allocate dedicated funding to the creation of Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas, and financially support the sustainable economic development and diversification of First Nations communities.
Complete as you see fit. In the “other” category, you may choose to add the following:
- Invest in an expedited transition to a sustainable, value-added, second-growth forest industry while also protecting old-growth forests and other endangered ecosystems on private and Crown lands.
Complete as you see fit. In the “other” category, you may wish to include “Environmental protection.”