April 15, 2013
Old-Growth Forestry “Report Card” for the BC Liberals, NDP, Greens, and Conservatives
The following is a summary on the positions of BC’s main political parties on old-growth related forest policies and some additional forest policies. The Ancient Forest Alliance is calling on BC’s political parties to commit to a science-based “Old-Growth Protection Act” with targets and timelines to end old-growth logging in endangered regions and to ensure a sustainable, value-added second-growth forest industry instead.
BC LIBERAL PARTY
The BC Liberal Party has a long anti-environmental record in regards to the management of old-growth forests and forestry jobs in most of BC.
The BC Liberal government in general has supported and defended the large scale liquidation of old-growth forests across most of BC, deregulated numerous forestry laws that protected the environment and jobs, facilitated the massive expansion of raw log exports to foreign mills, and oversaw the net demise of over 30,000 BC forestry jobs and the closure of over 70 mills in BC.
Some policies and positions they’ve undertaken:
- Supported and defended the continued large-scale liquidation of old-growth forests across most of BC.
- Have repeatedly engaged in PR-spin to make it seem that old-growth forests are not endangered. They have repeatedly included millions of hectares in their PR stats of marginal, low productivity old-growth forests of stunted trees in bogs, on rocky slopes, and at high altitudes generally of non-commercial value, along with the productive old-growth stands (ie. the “ancient forests”) of commercial value, to inflate the statistics of remaining old-growth forests.
- Deregulated vast areas of forest lands on Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast by removing Tree Farm Licences from corporate private forest lands. This resulted in a failure to implement planned Old-Growth Management Areas, Ungulate Winter Ranges, and Wildlife Habitat Areas formerly intended to protect old-growth forests, many of which are now being logged. It also resulted in the removal of prohibitions against real estate development and raw log exports on those lands.
- Have opened up scenic protections, known as Visual Quality Objectives, in vast regions of the province that protected old-growth and mature forests for the tourism industry.
- Are proposing to open up Old-Growth Management Areas, Wildlife Habitat Areas, Ungulate Winter Ranges, Recreation Areas, and Visual Quality Objectives in the Central Interior for logging.
- Vastly increased the Allowable Annual Cut, the total harvest level for BC, to vastly unsustainable rates at almost 80 million cubic metres per year over the past decade.
- Issued countless log export permits from Crown forest lands, so that today almost 6 million cubic metres of raw logs are being exported to foreign mills. They have ignored their own advisory committee’s advice, the Timber Exports Advisory Committee, to not allow the export of raw logs from northern Vancouver Island but instead to ensure they go to BC sawmills.
- They weakened forest practices regulations on both Crown and private forest lands.
- Within BC’s 95 million hectares of land, they did substantially increase old-growth protections in a roughly 8 million hectare portions of the coast. In the Central and North Coast, Haida Gwaii, and Squamish District, they expanded old-growth protections significantly through new Provincial Conservancies, as well as regulatory protections in the Central and North Coast and Haida Gwaii. This was done under First Nations pressure and threat of boycotts by Greenpeace and ForestEthics in international markets.
- They have created regulatory protections on about 2 million hectares of high elevation mountain caribou habitat, much of which is of low or no commercial value, but also excluded much of the low elevation forests from protection.
- They’ve continued establishing Old-Growth Management Areas (OGMA’s) through land use planning processes as originally established by the NDP government of the 1990’s. However, they dragged out these processes for over a decade, allowing prime old-growth forests to be logged in the meantime. Much of these Old-Growth Management Areas have been placed within existing parks, in low productivity old-growth forests, and the designation itself in some regions has loopholes that allows for forest destruction to continue within some OGMA’s.
BC NEW DEMOCRATIC PARTY (NDP)
The NDP released its forestry platform today which makes no mention of old-growth protection, the environment, or sustainability. See: www.bcndp.ca/files/BG-BCNDP-130415_-_Forestry.pdf
NDP Leader Adrian Dix, during his 2011 campaign to become party leader, promised to: “Develop a long term strategy for old growth forests in the province, including protection of specific areas that are facing immediate logging plans.” (see point #4 in “Ecosystem Management”) http://conservationvoters.ca/past-endorsements/leadership-race-2011/ndp-candidates/adrian-dix
Several individual NDP MLA’s have championed protecting specific old-growth forests while in Opposition, but at this time Dix and the NDP party as a whole have not followed up, developed any specifics, re-mentioned, or even officially adopted Dix’s earlier leadership promise for a province-wide old-growth plan.
On April 13, 2013, comments by the NDP’s Envirornment Critic Rob Fleming in the Times Colonist suggests the party supports scientific conservation assessments of our old-growth forests as proposed by the “Old-Growth Protection Act”. See: www.timescolonist.com/news/world/ancient-forest-alliance-calls-for-science-based-forest-plan-1.109973. This is a step forward. However, the party has not committed yet to the plan’s actual protection scheme that would end old-growth logging in endangered regions – the crux of the plan.
On raw log exports, the party has promised to “reduce” raw log exports, but no details have been given beyond “working with stakeholders”.
BC GREEN PARTY
The BC Green Party committed on April 14 to undertake a science-based old-growth plan to protect endangered old-growth forests, to recruit second-growth forests into becoming old-growth, and to increase the export tax on raw logs to support value-added manufacturing in BC. See: www.andrewjweaver.ca/bc_green_party_forestry_action_plan
The party is also calling for a reduction in the overcutting of second-growth forests and phase-out of clearcutting. See: www.greenparty.bc.ca/forestry
BC CONSERVATIVE PARTY:
The BC Conservatives have no mention in their platform or website about old-growth protection, sustainable forestry, or anything environment-related to forestry, and as such we assume at this time that they support the status quo of large scale old-growth liquidation and raw log exports.
In fact, about the only thing mention of forestry in their platform is a statement that “the BC Liberals have shown little enthusiasm for the development of British Columbia’s abundant natural resources.”