Talk and log. Talk and log. Talk and log. BC NDP are rhetorically protecting old growth!

May 14, 2024 | 42-5, Blog, Governance, Indigenous, Legislature, Question Period, Video | 0 comments

The BC NDP have perfected “talk and log”.

Minister of Environment, Hon. George Heyman, has consistently disagreed with the premise of my questions. If you were to view the world through his rose coloured glasses you would see a fantastical uptopia.

What seems to escape the Minister is while he is tapped to stand and provide the rationale, justification, or excuse, mills are shuttering, tree farm plantations are burning, and the LNG industry has gone from zero projects when he became environment minister in 2017, to a half dozen in progress today.

Now, he wishes out loud that I would pay attention. I have been paying attention Minister!

Your government has failed to protect our ancient old growth forests. You have delivered strong rhetoric, and you have made people believe you are making headway, meanwhile the highest value old growth continues to fall, and you failed miserably to deliver species-at-risk legislation and biodiversity protection.

[Transcript]

A. Olsen:

For years, this government has talked in circles around the important issue of protecting old-growth forests. This is more of what he says and what he does. In his first 100 days, the Premier committed to protecting old growth and prioritizing biodiversity and ecosystem health.

Yet another legislative session has come and gone without any nod to old-growth forests. The old growth strategic review was very clear on what is needed to protect the high-productivity old-growth forests. British Columbians have also been loud and clear: 92 percent of the population want some protection for old-growth trees. Meanwhile, big trees continue to fall under this government, making the province more susceptible to climate change and biodiversity loss.

To the Premier: after four years of promises and commitments to protecting old growth, where are we now?

Hon. G. Heyman:

B.C., under this government, has taken more concrete steps to protect old-growth forests and ecosystems in general than we have ever seen in British Columbia.

There were many shortsighted approaches in the past, decisions to boost raw log exports that led us to the challenges we are facing today. We are working in partnership with First Nations, with communities, with people in the sector. We are conserving more ancient forests for our children and grandchildren and supporting a transition to more sustainable forestry jobs for workers and communities. We are implementing the recommendations of the old-growth strategic review. We launched a $300 million First Nations conservation fund in partnerships with the B.C. Parks Foundation to help protect more rare forests.

On that announcement, Ken Wu, the executive director of the Endangered Ecosystems Alliance said: “Premier Eby has delivered. This is a huge conservation victory for the many thousands of people who have spoken up for years for this.”

[11:05 a.m.]

A. Olsen:

Forests in our province are burning. We get the Minister of Environment standing up and answering questions on forestry questions — the same Minister of Environment that failed to bring in species-at-risk legislation, the same Environment Minister that failed to bring in biodiversity legislation for the last seven years that he’s been the Environment Minister.

Old-growth forests are crucial habitat for many plants and animals, including the spotted owl and mountain caribou. They’re culturally significant for many First Nations, which harvest food and medicines from forests that we’ve stewarded for millennia. They’re a major draw for tourists, who come from all over the world to marvel at these towering trees and their magnificence.

But decades of industrial logging have taken an immense toll on the ecosystems and communities, and this government’s response is rhetoric. More trees are falling. In fact, the volume of old growth cut increased in recent years. Indigenous leaders and conservation groups are demanding the government protect more old-growth trees. In the words of Grand Chief Stewart Phillip: “At this rate, there will be nothing left for our children. Stop putting profit and votes over people.” Stop logging our old-growth trees.

My question is again to the Premier or the Minister of Forests. When will his government fully fund the deferral process and provide compensation to First Nations who lose revenue as a result of the deferrals?

Hon. G. Heyman:

The member is simply incorrect. This government has taken more action on a number of fronts to protect old-growth forests, biodiversity, ecosystems and endangered species than we’ve seen in British Columbia.

We formed partnership agreements to protect the southern mountain caribou with nations in the northeast of the province and with the federal government. We took measures to protect spotted owls, including the captive breeding program. We have a process in place where we are systematically working with First Nations to protect ancient trees, ancient forests, irreplaceable old growth.

And yes, we are also supporting a healthy logging industry. We are working to conserve ecosystems. We are putting ecosystem health at the centre of the Forest Act, which was never done before, never the practice before. Along with the federal government and private sector partners, we have established $1 billion for conservation of ecosystems, species and irreplaceable old-growth forests in this province. We’ll continue our work. I just wish the member was paying attention.

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