Forests for Future Generations

Old growth forests are valuable to BC’s ecological and economic health and vital in the fight against climate change. However, standards to protect these important resources vary across the province and, in many areas, are inadequate. On behalf of Sierra Club BC, the ELC developed a comprehensive report outlining how forestry solutions applied in the Great Bear Rainforest Agreements could be used throughout the province so that BC can continue to rely on its forests for future generations.

Upcoming reforms to the provincial Forest and Range Practices Act offer the opportunity to address the urgent need to raise the bar for forest conservation across the province to this level. The Great Bear Rainforest Agreements provide a good model to achieve this goal.

Developed through decades of work by First Nations, the provincial government, environmentalists and industry representatives, the Great Bear Rainforest Agreements incorporate ecosystem, science-based standards and prioritize both biological and socioeconomic health. They cover more than 6.4 million hectres of land, which include the traditional territories of 26 First Nations. The ELC report makes a number of recommendations, including raising the minimum for old growth forest retention levels, identifying areas of old growth forest and restoration areas and preserving connectivity between those landscapes, increasing the detail required in Forest Stewardship Plans, and entering into long-term land use planning agreements with each First Nation on a government-to-government basis, ensuring these agreements incorporate traditional ecological knowledge into all decision-making processes.

Keith Schille, ELC Clinic Student (Spring 2019) working on this project reflected:

What struck me the most was the complexity/inaccessibility of our provincial forestry regime. If it takes law students this long to figure out how it functions, I’m not sure what hope the general public has.

That becomes even more important given the fact that, as the report point out, the overlapping orders, legislation, land use agreements, etc. are currently vastly deficient if we want forestry to continue in a sustainable fashion for future generations. 

I hope the report inspires people to break the status quo, even if in a small way. We live such busy lives that we tend to push away causes that demand we take action in the little free time have. That being said, we’re witnessing unprecedented ecological devastation across the globe; if that’s not a reason to sacrifice some of our free time, I don’t know what is. I encourage anyone who reads the report and is passionate about BC’s forests and the plants and animals that live within them to contact their local representatives and let them know that this matters. We don’t need an army of people dedicating their lives, but we do need the majority of BC residents to take 10 minutes out of their lives and let the government know that this is important. It’s a small price for a large reward!

Keith Schille