While emphasizing the importance of preserving at-risk ecosystems, indigenous leaders and experts in British Columbia presented their concerns on Wednesday (12-1-21) over the B.C. provincial government’s process to defer logging in old-growth forests.
On November 2, 2021, the province announced that an independent panel of scientific experts had mapped out 26,000 square kilometers of old-growth forests at risk of permanent biodiversity loss. At that time, the government asked First Nations to decide within 30 days whether they support logging deferrals in those areas or if the plan required further discussion.
Retired judge Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond told a news conference hosted by the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs that the government’s actions aren’t consistent with free, prior, and informed consent — a key principle of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Turpel-Lafond went onto say that the 30-day timeline is too short for many First Nations to make informed decisions, and the process lacks clarity on economic impacts and potential compensation for nations that elect to set old-growth forests aside from logging.
The B.C.’s plan includes about $12.7 million over three years to support nations through the process. However, when First Nation Chief’s asked about the funding, the Forests Ministry said in a statement that it would have “more to say on this soon.”
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Indigenous leaders say a month is not enough to decide fate of B.C. old growth