Misconception about plea for protected provincial rainforests requires correction

The June 29 article, If an old-growth tree falls in a forest, does it make political hay?, reports on a letter from 223 scientists stating, “it’s vitally important for the B.C. government to protect the last remaining bits of temperate rainforest on Vancouver Island RIGHT NOW.” The article states environmentalists say that “the size of the Island’s old-growth forests … are shrinking at the rate of two football fields an hour, 24 hours a day.”

What is most concerning about this warning is the misconception this plea has created for the public about how much of BC’s forests are protected, and the reality of timber harvesting in BC, specifically in our rainforests and primary forests. This misconception requires clarification and correction.

Most importantly, BC has already protected a significant majority of its rainforests and old-growth. It is estimated that more than two thirds of old-growth timber on Vancouver Island’s Crown land is already protected, which is a considerable increase over the past decade. BC is the most sustainably managed forest region in the world. The province has more forested land under third party environmental certification than any other country and the Industry harvests only 0.3% (27,000 hectares) of the coastal forest’s 8.5 million hectares per year.

Timber harvesting contractors are respectfully committed to sustainable forest management and logging practices. Under the Forest and Range Practices Act and regulations, we manage our Crown forests for different resource values that include recreation, soils, sustainable timber supply, wildlife, water, fish, biodiversity, visual landscapes and cultural resources.

The current proportion of coastal second-growth harvest has risen steadily over the last decade to about 50 per cent today, and that is forecasted to continue to increase. This has reduced reliance on old-growth harvest as additional areas have been protected.

By law, all areas harvested on public land in BC must be reforested. Every year, more than 200 million trees are planted in BC. Reforestation ensures the opportunity to sustainably manage BC’s forests for generations to come and the newly planted trees help our fight against climate change by fixing carbon as they grow. In fact, the carbon stored in wood products made from BC forests can remain sequestered for 100 years and beyond.

Our forests – primary, intact and old growth – currently support 140,000 total jobs in BC through timber harvesting and manufacturing forest products; unnecessarily ending old-growth logging would lead to significant job loss, stymie investment and put forest dependent communities in serious jeopardy.

David Elstone,
Executive Director
The Truck Loggers Association