Logging carryovers from old growth forests in British Columbia exceed Great Bear Rainforest – Sooke News Mirror

The BC government’s plan to preserve old-growth and at-risk forest ecosystems has reached two-thirds of its goal, gaining approval from Indigenous communities for proposed protected areas and logging plans.

The 1.7 million hectares currently being negotiated for protection exceed protected areas in the coastal region now known as the Great Bear Rainforest, Forests Minister Katrine Conroy said Friday at an event to mark the update on progress. Among the signatories is the Canim Lake Indian Band in the Central Interior, whose representative described his people’s perspective on a century of logging and ranching.

Canim Lake councilor Carl Archie said it was “ironic that the area was named after the caribou”, which was the main source of traditional food for his people.

“There were vast herds and the people of Canim Lake protected those herds with our blood and our lives,” Archie said on April 1. “Although they once supported our people from time immemorial, they are now gone. Where there used to be vast herds numbering in the thousands, as far as the eye can see, they now soar nearly 100 animals in Wells Gray Park.

Like many of the more than 200 Aboriginal groups consulted on forest preservation, Canim Lake has its own logging operations. Archie said his elected council now had its own forest stewardship plan and had “led the charge” to increase the share of the annual allowable cut reserved for native title holders. Canim Lake accepted the carryover areas proposed by the Government of British Columbia, but reserved the right to modify designated areas in the future.

Archie endorsed Conroy’s move toward Indigenous-led land use planning that considers the cumulative impacts of roads and logging. “Our caribou depend on old-growth forests for their very existence, and it’s our responsibility to bring them back,” he said.

Implementation of BC’s old-growth forest preservation strategy shifts to a new ministry of land, water and resource stewardship, as the province regains control of decisions such as where resource access roads can be built. The Old Growth Strategy aims to extend protection to up to 2.6 million hectares of forest identified as being at risk of permanent habitat loss by 2023.

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