The Inland Temperate Rainforest (ITR) is a globally unique, interconnected ecosystem that cannot be replanted or replaced. Scientists give the ITR ten years before full ecosystem collapse – unless we act now.
From extraordinary lichens to endangered mountain caribou, animals need old-growth trees to survive and thrive. Our short-term profits means the silent extinction of plant and animal species that call the ITR home.
The ITR also protects us. Intact old-growth forests immediately mitigate the impacts of climate change. They provide fresh water and store far more carbon than the plantations replacing them, and their structure actively protects us from wildfire. The climate and biodiversity crises are accelerating – we need to save these few remaining old growth forests now.
In November of 2021, the BC Provincial Government announced their intentions to defer 2.6 million hectares of old growth from logging, pending discussions with Indigenous Nations. But a few things have happened since then:
The government has made it so that all Indigenous Nations with overlapping territories in a deferral area must agree on whether or not to continue logging before a deferral will be implemented. This standard of consensus has NEVER been applied to any other resource management.
Deferrals are only a chunk of the discussion. While the BC government has been making promises, our communities, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, dependent on old growth logging have been asked to pick between economic security or conservation — without long-term financial support to make their decision. The Province must level the playing field and provide conservation financing as a meaningful alternatives to old growth logging.
According to the provincial government’s own numbers, over 9000 soccer fields (7200 ha) of deferral areas have been logged since November. Furthermore, BC is considering more new cutting permits in deferral areas.
WHAT EXACTLY IS A DEFERRAL ANYWAY?
Deferrals are a two-year stop-gap measure to stop the bleed an the ecosystem.
It pauses logging, to allow proper time for discussions between levels of government to happen. In BC, many of these ecosystems are high risk of irreplaceable biodiversity loss.
Deferrals are not enough without meaningful options for communities and nations to transition away from old growth logging, and they are certainly not enough for the wildlife that depends on old growth. As one of the last jurisdictions in the world still logging these irreplaceable ecosystems, it is vital that immediate action is taken to prevent the loss and imminent ecological collapse in old growth in the Inland Temperate Rainforest.