Old growth harvesting deferred in Fairy Creek, Walbran areas. (flickr.com)

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Government honours First Nations request for deferrals

In response to the Hišuk ma c̕awak Declaration and deferral request issued June 7, 2021, by the Chiefs of the Pacheedaht, Ditidaht and Huu-ay-aht First Nations, the Government of British Columbia has deferred old-growth logging for two years in the Fairy Creek and central Walbran areas while the Nations prepare their resource-stewardship plans for these areas.

Under these deferrals, all old growth – approximately 2,034 hectares – in the Fairy Creek watershed and central Walbran area will be protected.

  • The Fairy Creek watershed is 1,199 hectares in size and includes approximately 884 hectares of old forest.
  • The central Walbran area (west of Lake Cowichan) is 1,489 hectares, of which approximately 1,150 hectares is old forest.

Maps of the deferral areas in the Fairy Creek watershed and central Walbran area are available here: https://news.gov.bc.ca/files/FairyCreek_Walbran_map.pdf

The Fairy Creek deferral areas are identified as zone A and zone B. All harvesting in zone A is suspended, including all old-growth areas and an additional 145 hectares of second-growth forest, with two exceptions: removal of trees already on the ground and to harvest trees for Indigenous cultural purposes. In zone B, forestry activities are suspended in all identified old-growth stands, with limited exceptions for safety, environmental and personal uses (firewood).

These latest deferrals are in addition to the nearly 200,000 hectares of old growth – an area nearly double the size of Metro Vancouver – that government protected in September 2020.

In accordance with the request from the Huu-ay-aht, Ditidaht and Pacheedaht First Nations, tenure holders in the Fairy Creek watershed and the central Walbran area will be able to harvest timber in areas not identified as old growth.

New road construction activities will be suspended within identified old growth areas in the central Walbran and Fairy Creek watershed as part of the deferrals. For existing roads in these areas, government and the three Nations expect tenure holders to carry out necessary maintenance to make sure roads are safe and that there is an appropriate level of environmental protection.