For immediate release
February 20, 2019
Victoria, BC – The Ancient Forest Alliance is disappointed the NDP government’s provincial budget, released yesterday, fails to allocate urgently needed funding for the protection of endangered old-growth forests.
“Despite the ecological and climate crisis engulfing BC’s productive ancient forests, the NDP government’s 2019 budget is bereft of meaningful solutions,” stated Forest Campaigner Andrea Inness. “For example, the budget lacks even modest funding for a desperately-needed provincial land acquisition fund to protect endangered old-growth forests and other ecosystems on private lands.”
Many of BC’s most endangered and biologically rich ecosystems, including old-growth forests, drinking watersheds, and areas of high scenic and recreation value, are found on private lands, which make up only five percent of BC’s land base, including over 20 percent of Vancouver Island.
Without dedicated, annual provincial funding to acquire private lands and add them to the province’s protected area system, ancient temperate rainforests such as the mountainside above the world-famous Cathedral Grove, along with hundreds of other endangered forests, wetlands, and grasslands across the province, remain vulnerable to development.
“The NDP government has a unique opportunity right now to obtain matching funds from the federal government’s $1.3 billion investment in conservation partnerships and protected area expansion, announced last year,” stated Inness. “This money could go to purchasing private lands or expanding protected areas on Crown lands, but no additional funding is allocated for conservation in Budget 2019. The BC government is missing out on a first-rate opportunity.”
“We’re encouraged by the government’s commitment in last week’s throne speech to implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and by their new, three-year $297 million revenue sharing agreement with BC First Nations, which includes support for environmental protection, although much of that funding will go to investments in infrastructure, health, and housing for First Nations communities.”
“A much greater funding commitment is needed to enable the sustainable development and diversification of First Nations economies while adequately supporting land-use planning processes and Indigenous protected areas that include old-growth forests.”
The Ancient Forest Alliance is proposing the BC government create a dedicated provincial land acquisition fund, starting with an initial $44 million annual commitment and rising to an annual $100 million through $10 million increases each year, to enable the timely purchase of significant tracts of endangered private lands of high conservation, scenic, and recreation value to add to BC’s parks and protected areas system. The group is asking the province to explore dedicated funding mechanisms, such as redirecting the province’s unredeemed bottle deposit funds (worth an estimated $5 to $15 million/year) toward private land acquisition.
The AFA is also calling on the BC government to implement a series of policy changes to protect endangered old-growth forests on Crown lands, including a comprehensive, science-based plan similar to the ecosystem-based management approach used in the Great Bear Rainforest; conservation financing support for First Nations communities in lieu of old-growth logging; and regulations and incentives to accelerate the transition to a sustainable, value-added, second-growth forest industry in BC.