Rainforest Solutions Project

Promoting conservation and economic alternatives in British Columbia's Great Bear Rainforest


Government extends logging ban on central coast to allow for land-use plan

June 26, 2003

The provincial government has extended the moratorium on commercial logging covering just under one million hectares of pristine valley on the central coast of British Columbia.

Sustainable Resource Management Minister Stan Hagen said Wednesday the land in 20 candidate protection areas and 17 option areas will remain untouched by logging at least until sufficient scientific data is collected and the province’s land-use plan for the area is complete.

Hagen expects to receive that report, from the Central Coast Land and Resource Management Planning Table, by the end of this year. He said the land will continue to be protected “until June of 2004 or sooner.’‘

Environmentalists described the move as a positive step.

“This is the least they could do,’‘ said Ken Wu, executive director of the Victoria chapter of the Western Canada Wilderness Committee. “It’s a step in the right direction.’‘

However, there is still concern about the government’s long-term plan for the land, said Tamara Stark, forests campaign co-ordinator for Greenpeace. Stark said the government took three months to decide to prolong protection on this land during this process, a decision she described as a “no-brainer.’‘

The areas under protection include pristine valleys of old-growth rainforest, featuring sitka spruce, giant red cedar, Douglas fir and hemlock. They provide habitat for grizzly bears, Kermode bears and coastal wolves.

Rich timber resources in these areas have attracted plenty of interest from forestry companies and there is some exploratory interest from the mining industry, Hagen said.

“The environmental community is concerned that nothing start to happen in those areas before planning is complete,’‘ Hagen said.

Wednesday’s announcement ensures that, by extending an order-in-council under Part 13 of the Forest Act. It will expire June 30 of next year, allowing enough time for the land-use planning process to be completed and implementation to begin, the ministry said.

Stark said Greenpeace is “still hopeful” the government will listen to recommendations of the Coastal Information Team, a group of experts analyzing the area and determining how jobs and biodiversity can both be protected.

Forests Minister Mike de Jong said the continued protection of the area will come at a cost to the forestry industry.

“We know that, but the flip side of that is a much greater cost if we don’t do this properly,’‘ said Hagen, referring to possible international market campaigns from Europe.

Outside those designated areas of protection, timber harvesting will continue in the central coast region, which covers about 4.8 million hectares in total.

Hagen also announced two pre-tenure plans in the Muskwa-Kechika management area which will allow exploration of extensive natural gas deposits in areas with high potential. Cabinet also approved a plan paving the way for a potential $21-million ski industry expansion in the mountains surrounding Blue River.