The BC NDP continue to talk and log. They make big promises to protect high productivity old growth forests with no follow through.
The Minister of Forests is increasingly dismissive of our questions, but we will not stop asking.
This week another embarrassing report was released from the three independent scientists who published BC’s Old Growth Forests: A Last Stand for Biodiversity last year.
They released maps to show how little high productivity old growth remains and they highlight the old growth forests need to be deferred from logging in order for the Minister to comply with recommendation six of her own Old Growth Review Panel.
I shouldn’t need to remind Premier John Horgan that he promised during the election to implement all the recommendations of his report. These maps show that he and the Minister are failing.
Despite the Minister’s claims that she is doing the work, clearly she is not, if she was then these three independent scientists wouldn’t need to volunteer their time.
Yesterday, another blow was dealt to this government’s attempt to justify their continued inaction on protecting old growth. Three independent scientists did the work, frankly, that the Ministry of Forests should have done a year ago.
These scientists mapped out the forests across B.C. that meet the old growth panel’s criteria for immediate logging deferrals. These are the rarest, grandest, highest risk old growth areas in our province. With this blueprint, the NDP government has the information they need to protect the forests. They have the tools that will make this happen.
What’s missing? The only thing that’s missing — it’s become clear over the past year — is the political will to do anything other than to continue to liquidate these forests.
My question is to the Minister of Forests. She has the information handed to her. She has the tools at her disposal to make the change. Will she live up to the Premier’s promise, and immediately defer logging in these rare stands of old growth forest?
Hon. K. Conroy:
Hon. K. Conroy: We all know that B.C.’s ancient forests are part of what makes this province such a great place to live. We are doing the work that needs to be done to protect them. We have started doing that work, protecting hundreds of thousands of hectares. We are continuing to do that work. We are doing the work, and we will continue to do that work.
Member for Saanich North and the Islands on a supplemental.
We’re doing the work. We’re going to do the work. The work is being done. Work, work, work. There is a song about that.
The fact that that would get a clap is just ridiculous. The answer is brutal, the inaction is brutal, and for the past three years while we’ve asked questions about old-growth logging, our B.C. NDP colleagues have stared at the ground just wishing it would go away. Well, we won’t.
These ancient forests, our elders need someone who will stand up for them. Now British Columbians are being arrested because the people who were elected to do so have not. The work has been done by these three scientists, who have laid out a step-by-step process for the government if they’re confused.
They couldn’t have been more clear: “Deferrals are a means to an end, but they are not the end goal. Immediate appropriate deferrals are critical to create space for conservation. Moving rapidly towards identifying adequate forest for protection, recruitment and long-term resiliency is of utmost urgency.”
If you look at the maps that the scientists released yesterday, as I hope the minister has, you’ll be struck by just how little is left. These ancient majestic forests are vanishingly rare. They look like specks of dust on the map.
My question again is to the Minister of Forests. Will she live up to the promise that was made by the Premier and immediately defer logging in these last rare stands of old-growth forests?
Hon. K. Conroy:
Our government has taken action by already protecting hundreds of thousands of hectares of old-growth that were previously left vulnerable. We know there is more work to do, and we are doing just that. We are engaging with workers, with communities, with companies, with environmental groups and having those really important government-to-government discussions with Indigenous nations.
We are looking at the maps. We are looking at the areas. We are also looking at where the Indigenous nations have a right to be consulted, to have those discussions with them. We are undertaking those very, very important discussions.
We know that there is more work to do, and we are doing that. It might not make the member happy that we aren’t doing it on his schedule, but we are doing it on the schedule of the people of the province. We are doing it by ensuring we are having those very, very important government-to-government discussions with Indigenous nations on whose territories he is referring to. We’re doing that work, and we will continue to do it.