On Wednesday, Premier John Horgan and Minister Katrine Conroy announced the BC NDP government will honour the request by the Pacheedaht, Huu-ay-aht and Ditidaht First Nations to defer old growth logging in Fairy Creek Watershed and Central Walbran Valley.
“I’ve heard from people in my community, and I strongly agree, on the urgent and vital need to protect old growth forests and take strong action on environmental protection and tackle climate change,” said Ronna-Rae Leonard, MLA for Courtenay-Comox. “Since the beginning our government has been firm on our commitment to do this work in equal partnership with Indigenous peoples. The protection of Fairy Creek was done at the request of the First Nations who are the rights and title holders and the ones to make the call on land management in their territories.”
On Monday June 7, the three First Nations issued the Hišuk ma c̕awak Declaration, taking back decision-making responsibilities over their traditional territories while also asking the province to defer old growth logging in 2,000 hectares of old growth forest.
This deferral adds to nearly 200,000 hectares of old growth the BC NDP government has already recently protected, including in Clayoquot Sound and the Skagit “Donut Hole” in Manning Park. These areas had been left vulnerable by the BC Liberals. This is in addition to the 10 million hectares of old growth already under protection or uneconomical to harvest.
MLA Leonard said all First Nations have the inherent right of self-determination and are uniquely positioned to be stewards of their territories.
“While this deferral is an important step, it will take years to undo the gross mismanagement of the forestry sector under the BC Liberals,” said MLA Leonard. “But our government is working hard to protect old growth and the natural environment while advancing reconciliation. We are building a sustainable path forward and more old growth protections are coming this summer.”