Let’s focus on creating resilient communities.

This week, fellow Green MLA Adam Olsen and I have been asking the Minister for Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations why the NDP government has not meaningfully acted on their promise to stop the logging of old-growth forests in BC.

We have asked Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development Katrine Conroy repeatedly during Question Period when her government will fulfil their promise to implement the recommendations of the Old Growth Strategic Review panel, and provide immediate protections to the most endangered old growth left in BC.

All we’ve heard back are the same recycled talking points that we have been hearing for years. While they talk, the forests are logged. The Government continues to spin the truth about how much monumental old growth is left in BC. Is there no mandate for real, urgent change?

Today I asked Premier Horgan if he would acknowledge that government has yet to fulfil his promise to implement the Old Growth Strategic Review panel’s recommendation to provide immediate interim protections for our highest risk old growth forests. In my supplemental I asked him if he would direct Minister Conroy to release a public work plan, with milestone dates for implementation, so that the public can have faith that his promise will be upheld.

It’s not a game. It’s not theatre. It’s about whether this government takes seriously its responsibility to protect these astonishingly rare and disappearing forests.

Transcript

S. Furstenau: In the last few days, my colleague and I have repeatedly asked the Minister of Forests about when she will fulfil her promise to implement the recommendations of the old growth panel and provide immediate protections to the most endangered old growth left in our province. The responses have been recycled talking points and lumping in stubby subalpine trees in her numbers when she knows that what we’re asking about, what the old-growth panel is referring to, what British Columbians think of as old growth, are the ancient, temperate forests with big trees.

It’s not a game. It’s not theatre. It’s about whether this government takes seriously its responsibility to protect these astonishingly rare and disappearing forests.

Today my question is to the Premier. During the election campaign, he committed to implementing all of the recommendations of the old-growth review panel, beginning with immediate deferrals to stop the bleed as they work on a broader shift. Will the Premier today acknowledge that his government has not yet implemented the panel’s recommendation to provide immediate interim protections for our highest-risk ancient forests, and will he direct his minister to urgently fulfil this commitment?

Hon. K. Conroy: I thank the member for the question. We know that B.C.’s forests are a big part of what makes our province so unique and special. Our government knows that old-growth trees are an integral part of healthy ecosystems, and we take that very seriously. For many years, the old government took an unbalanced and unsustainable approach to managing our old-growth forests. We are making different choices.

Our government is bringing in a fundamental shift in forestry to protect and preserve old-growth trees for today and for years to come. We will do this while supporting forest workers and forest-dependent communities. We received advice and clear recommendations from the independent panel on how we can do this, and we are dedicated to implementing all 14 of the recommendations.

This work has already started. As a first step, we worked with First Nations to protect old-growth forests in nine areas considered high-risk ecosystems across B.C., just as the report asked us to do. There is much more work to do, and we will do it.

Mr. Speaker: The Leader of the Third Party on a supplemental.

S. Furstenau: It is disappointing to hear the minister refer to the old government when this is, indeed, their second term of government and many choices have been made in the last four years. It’s clear you can’t change a paradigm overnight, but right now the opposite is happening.

Deferrals don’t mean permanent protection. They’re a tool to maintain options in a time of crisis. Talk and maintain options rather than talk and log. The big-tree old growth that was logged last week won’t be available for consultation and informed decision-making, nor will the big-tree old growth that is logged this week or next week.

The old-growth panel recommendations are embedded in a three-year framework with six-month steps, starting with immediate action for at-risk forests. We have missed the first deadline, and to date, the B.C. government has not tied its implementation promise to a workplan with milestone dates. Without such a step, the B.C. government remains unaccountable for meeting future deadlines.

My question, again, is to the Premier. Will he direct his minister to release a public workplan with milestone dates for implementation so that the public can have faith and take him at his word?

Hon. K. Conroy: It’s really disappointing to hear the member mischaracterize the independent panel’s report. There are no deadlines. The independent panel was clear. Making a paradigm shift in how we manage old forests will take time and collaboration with all partners. I’ll note for members that Garry Merkel, one of the report’s authors, recently said he doesn’t question our government’s commitment to implementing his recommendations, and he knows the process will take years.

We have protected old-growth trees across B.C. Over 900 hectares in Crystalline Creek. This area has an intact watershed with wetland and old and mature forests. Over 1,800 hectares in McKelvie Creek, an old-growth temperate rainforest and watersheds, home to wildlife and salmon habitat. Over 2,700 hectares in Seven Sisters. This ecosystem has many different types of trees and wildlife. We have deferred logging as part of our Cariboo conservation work, protection for spotted owls and then protecting the marbled murrelet and northern goshawk recovery plans.

We have done work. We have done much. We will keep working hard to protect B.C.’s iconic old-growth forests.

Pin It on Pinterest