Old growth in the Lardeau Valley. “There is basically nothing left like this anywhere, but most valley bottoms in the Kootenays were once like this,” says Rachel Holt of Veridian Ecological Consulting. Photo: Rachel Holt

Old growth in the Lardeau Valley. “There is basically nothing left like this anywhere, but most valley bottoms in the Kootenays were once like this,” says Rachel Holt of Veridian Ecological Consulting. Photo: Rachel Holt

Nelson scientists release maps of old growth forests, urge province to stop cutting

The report contains detailed maps of 2.6 per cent of the forested land in B.C.

A Nelson-based company has published a series of maps showing forests that the government’s own old growth panel recommended should not be logged until more planning is done.

Dr. Rachel Holt of Veridian Ecological Consultants said in a May 19 news release that the company developed and published the maps because the province did not do so, even though its own old growth panel recommended such mapping. Meanwhile, old growth logging continues, she said.

The provincial old growth panel’s report, A New Future for Old Forests, authored by foresters Garry Merkel and Al Gorley and published in April 2020, emphasized the need to halt cutting old trees and stop prioritizing timber supply over ecological values.

Holt says that has not happened. In an earlier report published in September, her company wrote that a forest ministry announcement of two-year shutdown of old growth logging, in response to the publication of A New Future for Old Forests, turned out to apply selectively to areas that were already protected, had already been logged, or were not slated for logging at all.

“In the last year, old growth forests that should have been protected have been logged due to a lack of clarity on the data and maps,” Holt said.

Dr. Rachel Holt of Nelson is one of a group of scientists who have mapped all the old growth forest that the province’s old growth panel said should be “deferred” from logging. Photo: Bill Metcalfe

Dr. Rachel Holt of Nelson is one of a group of scientists who have mapped all the old growth forest that the province’s old growth panel said should be “deferred” from logging. Photo: Bill Metcalfe

The government’s old growth panel recommended that until a new old growth strategy is implemented, the province should “defer development in old forest where ecosystems are at very high and near-term risk of irreversible loss.”

Dave Daust, a forester and the project lead for the Veridian report, says the company’s new mapping will help the government do this.

“(Our mapping) represents the key criteria that the old growth panel outlined for immediate logging deferrals, including the tallest, largest forests, plus rare and ancient forest.”

The company has identified a total area of about 2.6 per cent of the forested land in B.C.

Veridian’s maps can be found at https://veridianecological.ca/old-growth-resilience/.

Asked to comment on Veridian’s maps, the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, in an email, said they are currently analyzing the maps.

“Our initial observation is that this map takes a different approach to the identification of old growth areas for possible deferral than was recommended by the old growth strategic review panel,” the email states without elaborating on the nature of the difference.

Holt is critical of the provincial government for what she calls inaction in a time of an old growth crisis.

“This government has a history of starting out to do the right thing, but then getting cold feet and looking only through a timber supply lens when they make decisions,” she said.

Veridian Consultants said it developed maps and wrote its report on its own initiative, not sponsored by any group or agency.

Related:

Province ignoring need to preserve old growth forests, says Nelson scientist

Province’s response to old growth forest report falls short, says Nelson scientist

In the forest, a Nelson scientist discovers trees take care of their own



bill.metcalfe@nelsonstar.com

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