In early November, the B.C. government announced that its expert panel had mapped out 26,000 square kilometers of old-growth forest at risk of permanent biodiversity loss. At that time, the government asked more than 200 First Nations in the province to decide within 30-days whether they would support the planned deferrals in those area, or if the plan required further discussion.
In a statement released by the Forestry Ministry on Thursday (12-16-21), they reported that of the 200 First Nations contacted, 161 Nations had responded. Three-quarters of respondents indicated that they needed more time to review technical information or to incorporate local Indigenous knowledge into the proposed deferral plans before deciding.
The plan and timeline have drawn criticism from some Indigenous groups, including the First Nations Leadership Council, which includes the executives of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, the B.C. Assembly of First Nations, and the First Nations Summit.
First Nation Leadership Council members issued a statement last month saying they were concerned that at-risk old-growth remained unprotected while B.C. passed responsibility to First Nations without providing details on financial support to replace any potential lost revenues if the nations opted to defer old-growth logging in their territories.
The Forests Ministry said about half of the 26,000 square kilometers of at-risk old-growth forests are “not threatened by logging for the foreseeable future,” while about 500 square kilometers overlap with previously approved cutting permits.
Many forestry companies have indicated they will not proceed with harvesting those areas while discussions with First Nations are ongoing, the ministry added.
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B.C. hears from 161 First Nations on plans for old-growth logging deferrals