The BC Ministry of Forests has done nothing to limit further destruction of wildlife habitat in the Prince George Timber Supply Area (TSA) and conservationists are wondering why.
Extensive logging in the boreal rainforest north of Prince George (Photo: Conservation North)
IT HAS BEEN TWO YEARS since the Forest Practices Board concluded that nature was at high-risk in the Prince George TSA because of industrial logging. Why is it taking so long for the BC government to act on the Board’s recommendations when these ecosystems are on the brink of collapse?
A 2020 investigation by the Forest Practices Board was triggered by complaints from the public who observed extreme levels of logging by forestry companies in endangered old-growth spruce stands in the Parsnip drainage north of Prince George.
The Board concluded that biodiversity (plants and animals) is at high risk of irreversible loss in most of the Prince George District because of industrial logging. This area includes the globally rare inland temperate and boreal rainforests.
Logging in the Hart Caribou range of the northern wetbelt (Photo: Conservation North)
“We are watching logging trucks fly down highway 97 with eight spruce logs because the trees are so huge that’s all that will fit in the back of the truck,” explained Asta Glembotzki of Conservation North.
Confirming the Board’s findings, in 2021 a Technical Advisory Panel identified and mapped these areas as being rare and at-risk because of logging.
The Forest Practices Board’s two recommendations to the BC government in the 2020 report—which have not yet been acted upon—were that they promptly map and protect old growth where it is most threatened by logging, and update the province’s anachronistic biodiversity requirements for the region to reflect the latest science.
Current requirements around biodiversity for the TSA are contained in the Biodiversity Order, a document that was negotiated with industry 17 years ago. The Order is widely known to have been written to protect logging company access to the amount of old forest they want, where they want it. It specifies minimum areas to be retained that are way below what the science says must be protected to avoid ecological collapse.
Conservation North notes that there are other serious problems with biodiversity protection in the Prince George TSA that were never addressed in the 2020 Board investigation report. One example is that the work of keeping track of what has been logged and how much old growth remains in the TSA is left to a group of logging companies, as opposed to an independent scientific body or BC government staff. Conservation North views this arrangement as a serious conflict of interest that needs to be rectified if there is to be any hope of protecting nature in our region.
Conservation North’s Asta Glembotzki observes, “No one we talk to thinks letting forest companies make decisions about how to protect biodiversity is a good idea.” She adds that “BC has to rectify a massive problem in the Prince George TSA by following the recommendations of the Board now.”
Michelle Connolly is a founding director of Conservation North.