Active cutblocks the size of 68 Stanley parks in areas BC considers ‘protected’
Less than one third of Old Growth Management Areas in BC is actually old growth
January 29, 2024
Unceded territories of the Coast Salish Peoples/Vancouver, BC – A new report from the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society British Columbia (CPAWS-BC) finds that areas the BC government counts as ‘protected’ and uses to conserve biodiverse old growth forests do not meet conservation standards and contain little old growth.
- Less than one third (29 per cent) of legal Old Growth Management Areas (OGMAs) are composed of old forests (by area).
- The majority (58 per cent) of legal OGMAs are young forest (by area).
- Active forestry cutblocks also overlap 27,300 hectares of legal OGMAs in the province, an area 68 times larger than Stanley Park.
- Furthermore, when broken down into individual OGMAs, 37 per cent of the approximately 22,000 legal OGMAS in BC do not contain any old trees.
“We’ve known for a while that OGMAs are poorly protected but these results were just shocking and show how far off conservation standards these protections are,” says Meg Bjordal, author of the report and the conservation research and policy coordinator at CPAWS-BC.
The report also looked at examples of OGMAs in the Campbell River Resource District to see what was happening on a smaller scale, and found frequent boundary changes to permit logging, and fragmented areas that cannot foster biodiversity.
“Looking at these OGMA examples, between the data, satellite views and on-the-ground pictures, this is a black mark on BC’s progress to protect endangered ecosystems. It is devastating that we’re still destroying old growth forests.”
The report recommends three key changes:
- Amend OGMA guidelines to effectively protect old growth. OGMAs must be predominantly old forest, and represent large, unfragmented areas without clearcuts or roads. Boundary changes for resource extraction must not be permitted.
- Conduct a provincial review of OGMAs: assess OGMA management and immediately rectify where targets for retention of old forests are not being met. Identify sites that offer large, unfragmented, old growth forests to meet the retention targets and achieve biodiversity protection with OGMAs.
- Upgrade laws and regulations to ensure protection from boundary changes and industrial activity, such as logging and road building, to prevent further fragmentation of OGMAs. Put in place proper monitoring to track changes and incursions.
“B.C. recently reaffirmed their commitment to protecting 30 per cent of the province’s lands and waters in the widely celebrated Trilateral Framework Agreement for Nature Conservation. To reach this target, the province must either take significant steps to meet protection standards for ‘other conserved areas’ or completely exclude OGMAs from B.C. and Canada’s tally of protected areas,” says CPAWS-BC Executive Director Meaghen McCord.
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According to BC government accounting, 19.6 per cent of BC lands are currently protected. This total comprises 15.5 per cent in protected areas, including Provincial Parks, Conservancies and Ecological Reserves; and the remaining 4.1 per cent in Other Effective Conservation Measures (OECMs), 37 per cent of which are OGMAs.
This report used open source data from the BC Data Catalogue and the Canadian Protected and Conserved Areas Database. Old forest was classified by age and biogeoclimatic subzones as per similar methods that the Old Growth Technical Advisory Panel used.
We need BC to take action to protect at risk old growth and to make sure Old Growth Management Areas are actually fostering biodiversity, protecting old growth, and meeting conservation standards.
Email your MLA and tell them you want to see areas they claim as protected, actually protected!