Shail Wolf admires the ancient tree the protesters have dubbed the grandmother. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)

Shail Wolf admires the ancient tree the protesters have dubbed the grandmother. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)

OUR VIEWS: Old-growth can kicked down the road

Latest deferral avoids a difficult conversation about how, when to stop logging our oldest forests

The B.C government needs to make a clear statement on whether or not it favours logging old-growth forests in B.C.

On Monday, traditional chiefs of three Vancouver Island First Nations, the Pacheedaht, Ditidaht, and Huu-ay-aht, announced they want the province to defer any logging in and around the Fairy Creek area while they create their own stewardship plans.

By Wednesday, Premier John Horgan had agreed to a two-year deferral of logging in the Fairy Creek area, and he spoke of the importance of protecting the environment and of Indigenous reconciliation.

However, the announcement stops short of a decision on whether, or when, we stop logging old growth.

It’s similar to the language the NDP used in its last election campaign.

RELATED: Seniors block B.C. legislature streetfront in old-growth solidarity protest

“I’m committed to protecting old growth and biodiversity while supporting forest workers and communities,” Horgan wrote.

Okay, but when it comes to specific stands of trees, which one is it? Old growth and biodiversity, or forestry jobs?

Later in the same campaign promise was this sentence: “Many of our old-growth stands are worth more standing up than they ever could be cut down…”

“Many” is the load-bearing element of that sentence. Many doesn’t mean all! But it was an implicit promise to protect forests, to chart a new economic path that relied less on extracting a resource that, on the Coast, takes 800 years to grow back.

READ MORE: Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

This government needs to consult with First Nations, consult with coastal resource-dependent communities, and then announce a long-term plan. That plan should set hard limits on how much old growth, if any, can ever be harvested again in B.C.

Someday soon, we’ll have to phase out large-scale old-growth logging, or risk destroying unique habitats.

The debate we’re having now is about whether we do it sooner or later, and about how we chart an economic course for our province when we stop cutting down 800-year-old trees.

We’ve got two years to decide the fate of forests that, if logged, will be gone for 10 human lifetimes.

RECENT: First Nations tell B.C. to pause old growth logging on southwest Vancouver Island

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