Government taking action on old-growth deferrals (

Media Contacts

Lindsay Byers

Press Secretary
Deputy Communications Director
Office of the Premier

Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development

Media Relations
250 896-4320


Milestones to a new vision for old growth

The Old Growth Strategic Review report, A New Future for Old Forests, was released in September 2020. Government began implementing its 14 recommendations immediately.

Actions to date include:

  • Government engaged with the First Nations Leadership Council to discuss the report and begin work on the approach for Recommendation 1: “Engage the full involvement of Indigenous leaders and organizations to review this report and any subsequent policy or strategy development and implementation.” Government is announcing new capacity funding of up to $12.69 million over three years to help support this work.
  • In response to Recommendation 6: “Until a new strategy is implemented, defer development in old forests where ecosystems are at very high and near-term risk of irreversible biodiversity loss,” harvest has been deferred in 11 areas of old growth throughout B.C. The most recent deferrals include those in the Fairy Creek and central Walbran area, initiated at the request of the Pacheedaht, Ditidaht and Huu-ay-aht First Nations. The Special Tree Protection Regulation will also protect as many as 1,500 of B.C.’s most iconic old-growth trees and one hectare of forest surrounding them.
  • To further support Recommendation 6, the province formed an independent Old Growth Technical Advisory Panel. Its advice on where priority areas should be deferred has been received and is informing government’s current discussions with First Nations rights and title holders. Further deferrals will soon follow from these discussions.
  • The Technical Advisory Panel’s work, in collaboration with government, also addresses Recommendation 5: “Provide the public with timely and objective information about forest conditions and trends,” by producing and releasing maps and data on the distribution and condition of old growth in B.C.
  • Work on Recommendations 1, 5 and 6, as outlined above, is underway, as is Recommendation 7: “Bring management of old forests into compliance with existing provincial targets and guidelines for maintaining biological diversity.”

Key timelines for addressing the recommendations of the old-growth independent panel report can be found online:

This work is leading to a new old-growth strategy that is part of government’s vision for forests in B.C. The old-growth strategy is expected to be complete in 2023.

For more information, please visit

Media Contacts

Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development

Media Relations
250 896-4320
Technical Advisory Panel recommendations

In June 2021, government appointed an independent panel of scientists and foresters to help with B.C.’s next steps on old growth. The purpose of the panel was to provide maps, analysis and detailed status of old-growth ecosystems in British Columbia in order to improve public information, consistent with Recommendation 5 from the Old Growth Strategic Review. The panel was also asked to provide recommendations on priority areas for implementation of deferrals, consistent with Recommendation 6 from the Old Growth Strategic Review.

Recommendation 6 from the Old Growth Strategic Review noted that, “there are some areas of the province where failure to act now could lead to permanent loss of rare or unique ecosystem components…” This was the basis of their recommendation that, “until a new strategy is implemented, defer development in old forests where ecosystems are at very high risk of irreversible biodiversity loss.”

The panel has completed its work and provided a summary report of its methods, analysis and recommendations as well as a series of eight maps ( The panel’s recommendations are focused on old-growth ecology and are intended to support the discussion between provincial and Indigenous governments.

In order to identify priority areas for deferral panel members based their work on the direction provided in the Old Growth Strategic Review and have recommended that the focus should be on big-treed old growth, ancient old growth and rare old growth. The panel’s analysis shows that of the 56.2 million hectares of forest in B.C., 11.1 million hectares is old growth. This consists of:

  • Big-treed old growth, 6.2 million hectares: Big-treed old growth is naturally rare. And, since it has been heavily targeted by harvesting, big-treed old growth is now very rare compared to its historic distribution, putting it at extremely high near-term risk. The technical panel has recommended 1.7 million hectares of this be deferred.
  • Rare old growth, 0.8 million hectares: If an ecosystem has been heavily harvested and very little old growth remains, these remnant areas are, by definition, rare. The panel has recommended 0.5 million hectares of this be deferred.
  • Ancient old growth, 0.6 million hectares: Ancient forest is globally rare and particularly irreplaceable because of the time it takes to grow an ancient forest. The panel has recommended that 0.4 million hectares of this be deferred.

It is estimated that, historically, there were approximately 25 million hectares of old forest in B.C. Of this, 11.1 million hectares of old growth remain, approximately one-third of which, 3.5 million hectares, is already protected. B.C. is working toward a comprehensive old-growth strategy based on the 14 recommendations of the Old Growth Strategic Review.

Summary tables of the panel’s analysis on these forest types in B.C. is available here:

The panel’s work supports the discussions between the Provincial and Indigenous governments.

Media Contacts

Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development

Media Relations
250 896-4320
Supports for workers, First Nations, communities impacted by old-growth deferrals

The Province will implement co-ordinated and comprehensive supports for workers, communities and First Nations through the development of new programs and by continuing and enhancing existing programs.

Supports through existing programs

The Province will continue to provide supports through existing programs, as well as enhancing them to ensure workers, communities and First Nation communities have access to supports that help people and communities transition to new economic opportunities:

  • Forest Employment Program: Creates short-term employment to help forest contractors explore new work.
  • Skills Training for Job Pathways: Connects affected workers, communities and First Nation communities with skills training and educational opportunities for new careers.
  • Community Rapid Response Team: This team will provide in-community support and will co-ordinate with ministries and organizations to ensure supports are in place for individuals and communities.
  • Rural Business and Community Recovery Initiative: Recovery advisers will be in place to help create jobs, support rural businesses and communities, and support strategic decision-making.
  • Bridging to Retirement: Forestry workers 55 and older may receive supports to help transition to retirement.

Potential new programs

The Province will work in partnership with businesses, communities and First Nation communities to develop a suite of targeted supports that will help mitigate the adverse economic impacts associated with old-growth deferrals. Areas of focus include developing:

  • Supports for job creation in rural British Columbia through value-add forestry and other manufacturing.
  • Supports for infrastructure and economic development projects that promote diversification and resilience. This could be similar to the StrongerBC Rural Economic Recovery stream of the Community Economic Recovery Infrastructure program that supported projects such as upgrading industrial parks, destination development, airport expansions, marine access, recreation and heritage infrastructure.
  • Establish an internal government office to bridge and leverage cross-ministry connections for strategic collaboration on rural diversification.

Learn more about support programs:

Media Contacts

Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development

Media Relations
250 896-4320