B.C. wants First Nations to agree before old-growth logging deferred on shared lands
The British Columbia government wants First Nations to reach consensus before logging is deferred in old-growth forests on shared Indigenous territories.
Tara Marsden, sustainability director for the Gitanyow Nation's hereditary chiefs' office in northwestern B.C., said consensus represents a “high bar” in a complex process, which was not made clear when Forests Ministry staff introduced the province's deferral plan last November.
“I think the public who are concerned about old growth need to know that high bar, that it's very challenging to work in this landscape with multiple nations,” said Marsden, the main point contact for her nation on deferrals.
Marsden said she had initially understood from the ministry's messaging that “if you support these (deferral areas), they're going to be protected.”
Instead, there was an “unspoken expectation” from the province that consensus among nations with overlapping territories was needed, she said.
The B.C. government announced last fall that an independent panel of ecologists and forestry experts had mapped 2.6 million hectares of old-growth forests at risk of permanent biodiversity loss. It asked 204 First Nations to determine within 30 days whether they supported the temporary deferral of logging in those areas, or if they needed more time to decide.
Forests Minister Katrine Conroy told The Canadian Press that if consensus on deferrals could not be reached among First Nations with overlapping or shared territories, the province would assess the strengths of their claims.
“We can't automatically go with one deferral over another if nations aren't in agreement,” Conroy said. “So we're trying to work that out and staff are working really hard with nations to look at, you know, what can we do to reach consensus, but in the end, it becomes an issue of strength of claim.”
Asked how often shared territories are affecting deferrals,Conroy said there have been “some issues with some nations, but it hasn't been a lot.”
Any deferrals would initially last two years, allowing for consultation with First Nations about forestry in their territories, the minister said last fall.
After that, the at-risk old growth would either remain off limits for logging or be included in new, more sustainable management plans, she said.
Last month, Conroy announced that the province had so far approved logging deferral on 1.05 million hectares of old growth identified by the expert panel. Out of the 204 First Nations, the province had heard from 188, of which 75 had agreed to the deferrals in their territories, she said.
Meanwhile, about 7,200 hectares of the at-risk old growth have been logged since the government announced the deferral plan, the Forests Ministry said.
The province was clear that 50,000 hectares of the 2.6 million identified by the panel overlap with cutting permits approved before November, it said.
Marsden said her nation hadworked hard to review and confirm their support for the deferrals in Gitanyow territory before Christmas.
It wasn't until she followed up with Forests Ministry staff this month that a regional manager told Marsden the deferrals weren't going ahead.
Portions of the proposed deferrals overlap with an area affected by the Nisga'a Treaty, and Marsden said she was told the Nisga'a weren't supporting the deferrals because they're invested in the forest industry in those areas.
The Forests Ministry later told The Canadian Press the deferrals in Gitanyow territory were implemented “with the exception of a small localized area.”
A statement from the Nisga'a Lisims Government said the nation had yet to decide on the proposed deferral plan, “but instead continue to evaluate it and how it may affect our interests.”
They've been meeting with forest licensees to understand how the deferrals may affect them and Nisga'a members working in the industry, it said.
Asked whether the ministry's communication could have be better, Conroy said “staff have been working full out” to help First Nations and determine if they need a portion of $12.7 million earmarked for the deferral process.
Terry Teegee, regional chief of the B.C. Assembly of First Nations, said the province's old-growth deferral process is still “a space where there's a lot of unknowns” and more clarity is needed when it comes to shared territories.
“On one hand, we as Indigenous nations do want to figure some of these things out on our own, but what if there is differences of opinion, then what?” he said.
First Nations are being asked to come to the decision-making table when many are stretched thin, with limited capacity and resources, Teegee said.
“Overall, what we need to do, is to really develop that space so we can have meaningful dialogue and come to an ability to make those decisions.”
Gitanyow's situation underscores what Marsden sees as a problem with B.C.'s deferral process - a lack of compensation for First Nations and forestry companies that could lose revenue if old growth is off limits.
It puts the onus on multiple nations to agree on deferrals in shared or overlapping territories, she said, while “there's no financial compensation to say, 'Okay, well, you're actually not going to lose out on your investment.' ”
The deferral process also lacks support for independent analysis that would help First Nations and the logging industry understand the potential effects on local jobs and revenue and how those could be managed, she added.
Conroy said First Nations hold diverse perspectives on managing old growth.
Some have “invested years getting involved in the forest industry, and they really consider it part of their path to economic independence,” she said.
“We've had a number of people say to us, 'Well why didn't you just pay the nations?' and it's, you know, it's quite colonialist,” Conroy said.
“We are respecting nations' wants, wishes and needs, and that's part of reconciliation. We need to respect that if a nation is involved in harvesting ... we need to respect that. If they want to defer, we need to respect that.”
Compensation “never came up as an issue” in B.C.'s engagement on the deferral process with First Nations rights and title holders, Conroy added.
The province recognized that funding would be required to support permanent protection of old growth over the longer term, she said.
Where a First Nation has agreed to the proposed deferral areas,companies or communities who hold harvesting rights may voluntarily avoid those areas, or the minister may issue an order to prevent old-growth logging.
Under B.C.'s Forest Act, compensation is not required until at least four years have passed from the time the minister issues the order.
So far, the province has not had to issue any orders and “many” companies have indicated they will not proceed with logging in proposed deferral areas where discussions with First Nations are ongoing, the Forests Ministry said.
B.C.'s 2022 budget allocated $185 million over three years to support forestry workers, First Nations and others who may be affected by deferrals, as well as legislative changes that Conroy said would “reshape” forest management.
The vision is for a forest sector that “delivers higher value from our forests, with secure, long-term jobs and healthier ecosystems,” she said last fall.
The province also announced last month that it was doubling the amount of Crown forestry revenues shared with First Nations, an increase of $63 million this year, while it works on a new revenue-sharing model for the long term.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 28, 2022.
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
Canada pledged $50 million to prevent Ukrainian grain from going to waste on Sunday as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau committed to work with G7 nations on further measures to halt the famine caused by the Russian invasion of the embattled country.
Canada's chief of defence says Russia's invasion of Ukraine is going to change the course of history.
Cat and dog owners who cuddle their pets when infected with COVID-19 could end up making the animals sick with the virus, according to a Canadian study.
A Dalhousie University team of scientists — in a joint venture with a company called Planetary Technologies — is now in the next phase of their research to use the power of the ocean to one day reduce the world’s carbon levels.
David Cohen has been the United States' Ambassador to Canada since November 2021, and in the time since, both Canada and the United States have experienced a series of shared challenges. In an interview at his official residence in Ottawa, Cohen opens up about the state of the relationship.
Russian President Valdimir Putin was a target of mockery by leaders of the Group of Seven, as they sat around a table Sunday, commencing their three-day summit in Bavarian Alps, Germany.
Russia shattered weeks of relative calm in the Ukrainian capital with long-range missiles fired toward Kyiv early Sunday, an apparent Kremlin show-of-force as Western leaders meet in Europe to strengthen their military and economic support of Ukraine.
The latest on the G7 summit: The Group of Seven leading democratic economies has formally launched at its annual summit a global infastructure and investment partnership aimed at pushing back China's influence in the developing world.
Norway's prime minister and members of the royal family joined mourners at a memorial service Sunday at Oslo Cathedral for the victims of a shooting attack as the capital held its annual LGBTQ Pride festival.
About a hundred people gathered in downtown Vancouver on Sunday afternoon denouncing the U.S. Supreme court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, which secured constitutional protection for abortion rights in the country for nearly 50 years.
With a heat warning in effect for Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, several cities have opened up dedicated indoor cooling centres and outdoor cooling stations. We've compiled a list of what's available and where.
Firefighters in Port Coquitlam extinguished a large fire in an apartment building on Wilson Avenue overnight.
People are getting ready to return to Wakamne, God's Lake, on pilgrimage when the Pope visits Alberta.
The Edmonton Police Service is searching for a 13-year-old girl that was last seen Friday morning.
After nearly five decades, a new ambulance provider will assume emergency medical services in Cold Lake, Alta., this fall.
Hundreds of thousands of people lined the streets of downtown Toronto on Sunday as the city's Pride parade returned for the first time in two years.
There are now more than 50 outdoor pools open across Toronto where people can go to beat the heat.
A heat warning remains in place for the remainder of the weekend in Toronto, but temperatures are expected to cool down Sunday evening.
Organizers of a central Alberta rodeo and its parade committee are calling for calm after a float in this weekend's parade, which possessed a racist theme, was seen in the procession.
Police are looking for suspects after they say a man was injured in a shooting late Saturday.
If you are looking for some more time on the slopes even though it's already summer, you might be pleased by an opportunity at Banff Sunshine Village.
A man in crisis stabbed several people Sunday morning in downtown Montreal, leaving one dead and three injured.
The Montreal fire department (SIM) is advising citizens to avoid the intersection of Sherbrooke St. East near Durocher Ave. as a major building fire is blazing.
McGill University medical students are trying to help treat people who are addicted to opioids. They say many aren't equipped to handle the withdrawal.
As HMCS Kingston and Summerside pulled away from Halifax Harbour and deployed for Operation Reassurance, there was no shortage of emotion from family members who came to see them off.
The inquiry into Nova Scotia’s 2020 mass shooting, says four pages of handwritten notes that sparked a political firestorm in Ottawa this week, weren’t immediately submitted when subpoenaed by its investigators.
'It’s in shambles': RCMP 'architects of own demise,' says criminologist after complaints in N.B. and N.S.
After a week of criticism and anger at the Mass Casualty Commission in Nova Scotia, and outcry in a rural area of New Brunswick, there are questions about the RCMP’s role in community policing.
Residents in Gimli are dealing with overland flooding due to high water levels on Lake Winnipeg and strong winds.
'We can't believe it': Winnipeggers come together to throw surprise baby shower for new Ukrainian couple
A Winnipeg woman is making sure a couple from Ukraine is feeling right at home as they prepare to welcome their first child.
Lori Ann Mancheese's death is now one of five women in the span of about a month being grieved by members of the province's Indigenous community. Winnipeg police say three of those women were murdered.
The latest developments for encampments in Waterloo Region, field trips being paid for, and a new hospital for the area round out the top stories of the week.
An essential caregiver in Waterloo Region is looking to remind the community that the COVID-19 pandemic is not over and the protections in place for the most vulnerable may not be enough.
Norfolk County OPP are asking for the public's help with an arson case from three years ago.
The Saskatchewan New Democratic Party has elected Carla Beck as its new leader.
The ‘ultra low fare’ carrier Swoop entered the Saskatchewan air travel market earlier in June and currently serves three domestic routes out of Regina and Saskatoon.
Several different communities gathered at the Core Ritche Neighbourhood Centre on Sunday to celebrate Welcome Kabayan. ‘Kabayan’ in Filipino means, ‘welcome fellow members of our community.’
City staff have notified council that transit won't return to full operation this year, frustrating several residents.
The Midland Public Library has unveiled a new space for teens to reach out to an age group that often loses touch with the local library.
Emergency crews were notified of the collision around 10:40 a.m. Sunday.
The Saskatchewan New Democratic Party has elected Carla Beck as its new leader.
When Ennio Muzzolini walked into Christies Mayfair Bakery in 1965 interested in purchasing the small bakery on 33rd Street, he never imagined he’d one day be looking on as hundreds of people lined the block to get their hands on a baguette, cinnamon bun or wood-fired pizza.
Organizers have decided to cancel the Elk Ridge Open due to an “inordinate amount of rain.”
OPP Tweet: Highway 17 closed at Sand Bay Road at the Spanish River bridge.
A person was taken to hospital after a shooting on the Sheguiandah First Nation on Manitoulin Island Friday.
The Holistic Healing Fair is back in Sault Ste. Marie following a two-year absence.