British Columbia’s Old Growth: Q&A

Logging of old growth Caycuse Valley in 2020. Photo provided by Wilderness Committee

Old growth logging has dominated headlines in British Columbia in recent days, as blockades and protests arise and an old growth log being transported went viral on social media. We support the numerous non-profit and community groups working on the important issues of old growth and logging, and have concerns about how these activities impact fur-bearing animals.

To provide an overview of old growth logging in BC, why it matters and how residents can voice their concerns, our Defender Radio podcast connected with Charlotte Dawe of the Wilderness Committee. Here are the highlights (episode coming soon!):

Q: What are old growth forests and trees?

A: Old growth forests are defined in a few ways; one way to think of them is old trees. They don’t necessarily mean big trees – they can be in a swamp and hundreds of years old, but won’t grow large; or in alpine regions, they may be old but not look very big. You also have high-productive, biggest, oldest trees, often cedars, firs and spruces. Those are often the ones we’re talking about in BC that are at risk. Of the oldest and biggest in BC, we have less than 1 percent left.

Q: How does old growth logging affect endangered species?

A: Specialist species evolve very tightly with a certain eco-system and have a role or niche that is very narrow. Taking away one of the features of their habitat can doom the species. That’s what we’ve seen with Spotted Owls, one of Canada’s most endangered species. There is a single breeding pair as far as we know in BC. They adapted to live specifically within old growth forests. Their mating, rearing of young and hunting skills all depend on old growth habitat.

Q: Wouldn’t endangered species legislation protect BC’s wildlife?

A: Canada has endangered species legislation, but they give responsibility to provinces and territories to protect species on provincial or territorial land. British Columbia has no law to protect species at risk, even though we have the most species at risk in Canada. The federal government has only twice interjected when the province doesn’t act.

Q: How can people affect change?

A: Contacting your MLA to discuss old growth logging, express the need to protect it and create effective endangered species legislation is essential. If we get enough BC residents up in arms about this, the government will have no choice but to listen.

Wilderness Committee has created several tools related to old growth for BC residents. To see them, click here. Other non-profits and community groups also have tools and campaigns worth researching.

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