Win for British Columbia’s ancient forest activists

Some of the largest old-growth trees on the planet are found in a few remaining pockets in Western Canada – they may finally receive the protection they deserve.

For most of the world’s increasingly urban populations, it’s hard to fathom the size of some of the trees found in the Canadian province British Columbia’s (BC) remaining ancient temperate rainforests. Here, they can grow over 90 meters tall, 6 meters wide and up to 2000 years old.

It’s similarly difficult to grasp that, with less than 8% of these old-growth forests remaining in BC, they continue to be targeted and cut down by the logging industry.

“Cutting down these living cathedrals to make lumber and toilet paper is akin to grinding up Europe’s ancient castles to turn them into gravel for roads. It’s a crime against our natural heritage!” shares TJ Watt from the advocacy group Ancient Forest Alliance.

As BC’s forests are largely found on indigenous territories, any attempts at successfully preserving the few remaining pockets of old-growth will need to begin with the First Nations and creating incentives for conservation. This may now be on the horizon.

Following persistent advocacy from the Ancient Forest Alliance and others, 1.1 billion CAD has now been earmarked as part of BC’s “30% by 2030” protection target. The funds will be used to support First Nations in establishing Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas for old-growth protection, and for compensating resource extraction licensees like logging companies.

TJ Watt says it remains to be seen whether this will be enough to quiet the chainsaws, but admits it’s a promising start:

“This is the largest provincial funding package for nature conservation in Canada’s history.”


Photo: TJ Watt

Jonathan Eidse

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